Ryan Ridden

Ryan Ridden is a graduate from the University of Canterbury with an Honours Degree in Mathematical Physics. From a young age he was captivated by the universe, which drove a passion to understand how it all works, from the very small to the very large. Ryan is also passionate about sharing his knowledge with others, at present having given over 70 lectures to school classes of all levels and various societies on a wide range of topics. Ryan is also on YouTube Ryan Ridden and twitter @ryanridden.

Colours of the Quantum World - Micro to Macro

Jan 16, 2017

Colours are everywhere. The colours we see come from light with different wavelengths, but light isn’t the only thing physicists say have colour. In the quantum world the subatomic particles known as quarks have colour. As with everything quantum mechanical the colour of quarks isn’t what it may seem. Quarks can come in a variety of six colours, from red, green and blue to antired, antigreen and antiblue. Straight away something seems fishy, why are there only three colours and what is an anticolour? To answer these questions we will need to explore some ideas of quantum mechanics, and try to understand the mad mind of a physicist at the dawn of particle physics. The Colourful Nature of Quantum Mechanics The colour of quarks has nothing at all to do with colours of light we are familiar with. You see … Read More

Return to Blogging - Micro to Macro

Jan 16, 2017

Andrew and I in front of the incredible Colosseum. It’s been a while since my last blog post, but in my absence I haven’t been wasting time. Last year after completing a First Class Honours Degree in Mathematical Physics at the University of Canterbury, I took some time off to travel, before starting my next academic adventure. For a few weeks I travelled across Europe with my brother, visiting capital cities and soaking in the rich history they had to offer. On my trip I was fortunate enough to see castles, canals, monuments, mummies and ruins from one of humanities greatest empires. I will write about what I saw and learnt in the future, so stay tuned for that. A foggy morning in Canberra from Mt. Stromlo. Following my European adventure, I made the jump across the ditch … Read More

A Breakout Discovery: Supernova shock breakout detected - Micro to Macro

Mar 26, 2016

Stars don’t shine forever. The life of a star is incredibly long by our standards, they can live for millions to billions of years. Our own Sun, a star just like any other, has only 5 billion years left before it runs out of fuel and dies. Small stars like the Sun die with a slow puff of material into space, but stars much more massive than the sun don’t go gently. Massive stars live fast, die young and go out with an incredible bang known as a supernova. A new observation has caught a massive star going supernova, right from the beginning, giving us an unprecedented glimpse into its death.   Kepler and K2 This supernova was caught by the Kepler Space Telescope. How this detection was made is fascinating in itself, because Kepler was supposed to be a … Read More

Panspermia: Danger in searching for alien life - Micro to Macro

Mar 20, 2016

Are we alone? This is one of the most profound questions we can and have asked. The quest to find life outside of Earth captures our attention. It is a quest that challenges how we view ourselves in the universe. Could it be that Earth is special and life thrives only here? Could it be that we, as a species are the only “intelligent beings” in the Universe? Or is the Earth just one alcove that life has taken hold and could it be that we are just one spot of intelligence in a sea awash with it? Being the curious and social creatures that we are, it’s no surprise that we are drawn to this immense question. The search for life has plagued humanity’s mind for a long time, but only in the past few decades did we truly … Read More

Astronomy: A Voyage of Discovery - Micro to Macro

Feb 09, 2016

Astronomy is a subject of exploration. In an age where the Earth has been charted from the Old World to the New, it almost seems like the age of great voyages of exploration and discovery have long passed. That stands true as long as you don’t look up at night. On a clear night it becomes painfully clear there is much more to discover; an entire universe out there, filled to the infinite brim of secrets and discoveries waiting to be uncovered. The age of exploration hasn’t passed, it has simply moved up into the never ending sky with astronomers at the helm. In astronomy countless voyages are undertaken, not by humans but by light. The light may travel for billions of years at the fastest possible speed of 300,000km/s, passing over distances so vast, and wonders so grandiose, it would … Read More

The Immense Universe: Thoughts for a sunset - Micro to Macro

Feb 05, 2016

The universe is immense. All too often we are reminded of how large the Universe is; it is 150 million km or 8 light minutes to the Sun, 30,000 light years to the galactic centre, 2.5 million light years to the Andromeda Galaxy (the closest galaxy to the Milky Way) and 46 billion light years or 4.2×10²³ km (42 followed by 22 zeros) to the edge of the observable Universe. These distances are indisputably large. In fact they are too large. Distances in the Universe don’t make any sense to our brains. This isn’t the brains fault, it has evolved on a world where, before the advent of vehicles, distances of kilometers were large. So when confronted by a distance like 4.2×10²³km, the brain simply has no innate understanding. The fact that it is in km is almost meaningless, it’s a … Read More

Micro to Macro - Micro to Macro

Jan 13, 2016

In our universe the incredibly tiny and the absolutely enormous are intertwined. In our everyday life there appears to be a clear distinction between the microscopic and macroscopic worlds, however, in many ways this is an illusion. We can begin to see how the two worlds connect by looking at the fundamental rules of the universe, as uncovered by physics and the large scale universe, observed through astronomy. The clearest connection between the micro and macro worlds can be found 13.7 billion years ago at the beginning of the universe—at the Big Bang. In the Big Bang model, the universe itself started in a very small space, the entire cosmos compressed into an infinitely small point called a singularity. In this model connections between the micro and macro become apparent, but what exactly are they? A Micro Beginning The first … Read More