Author: Sabrina Stierwalt, PhD

Dr Sabrina Stierwalt earned a Ph.D. in Astronomy & Astrophysics from Cornell University and is now a Professor of Physics at Occidental College.


If you believe in ghosts, you are far from alone. Around 45% of Americans believe in ghosts and as many as 18% of people will go so far as to say they have had contact with a ghost. I will also admit to spooking myself out on occasion when my dog has refused to stop barking at what appears to be an empty corner of the house. But what makes us feel like we are in the presence of a supernatural spirit? Are there possible scientific explanations for that tingling sensation you get on the back of your neck, or…

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If you’ve never heard of chemtrails, don’t fret. Before spending time in Southern California I hadn’t heard of them either. But whether it’s being in the land of obsession-with-healthy-living, or perhaps just being near a few major airports, I now hear about chemtrails quite frequently in SoCal. So what are chemtrails? Should we be worried about their effects on our health? What Are Chemtrails? Chemtrails, short for chemical trails, are what some call the white trails you see left behind as a plane passes overhead. Believers in the chemical aspect of chemtrails say those trails are actually clouds of chemicals…

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In 1946, an engineer was working near a piece of equipment known as a magnetron which is part of a radar system when he noticed that the radar emission at microwave frequencies melted the snack bar he had stashed in his pocket. Legends disagree as to whether it was a peanut cluster bar or a chocolate one, but the fact remains that rather than just mourning the loss of his snack, he did a little investigating. He and his coworkers realized that focused beams of microwave emission—that’s waves of energy at frequencies near the radio frequency regime—will cause polar…

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In Southern California, an estimated 1.2 million people live within 500 feet of the freeway even though the California Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board recommend against it. As urban populations rise around the globe, more and more people are living in zones with high levels of air pollution close to major roadways. Many of those people have fewer economic options making freeway pollution a matter of environmental justice. The health risks of living, working, or otherwise spending large fractions of time near freeways, are a topic of current scientific study but are already known to be…

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Most of us take for granted that we have the power to monitor the passage of time, to know at any moment how many minutes remain until our next appointment, or to be able to agree on the time with someone on the other side of the world. This was, of course, not always the case. How do we measure time? How accurate are today’s clocks relative to the first clocks of ancient times? And what is the definition of a second? Let’s take a walk through the evolution of time measurement. 5 Tools We Use to Measure Time Sundials…

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528 oysters in under 10 minutes. 8 pounds of bacon in 8 minutes. 113 pancakes in 8 minutes. 14.5 burritos in 10 minutes. Competitive eating is a serious sport that requires training, preparation and discipline to come out a champion. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the annual Nathan’s Famous 4th of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island. Last year, an estimated 35,000 fans came out to watch two intense competitors win the title from record holding champions. In the women’s competition, Miki Sudo ate 38 hot dogs, beating out Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas who…

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