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    Jennifer Ouellette Jennifer Ouellette is a science writer who loves to indulge her inner geek by finding quirky connections between physics, popular culture, and the world at large. Follow on Twitter @JenLucPiquant.
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  • Physics Week in Review: February 28, 2015

    Meteorite clasts imaged in different colors. Image: AMNH/YouTube.

    Science fared pretty well at this year’s Academy Awards. Case in point: Here’s Best Actor Eddie Redmayne on Portraying Stephen Hawking. The Alan Turing biopic, The Imitation Game, also received multiple nominatians, and the mathematician who wrote the book on Turing told journalist Christopher Mims that The Imitation Game is a fitting tribute to the [...]

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    Physics Week in Review: February 21, 2015

    Iconic image from Joy Division's "Unknown Pleasures" album (1979), based on pulsar data.

    Winter is in full force in the Northeast, so naturally science has some insights to share for those caught in the snowdrifts. For example: Don’t Jump Out of a Window Into Snow: But If You Do… it’s best to understand the physics of a snow jump. Related: Winter Thermodynamics: the science of Foggy Glasses. Mysterious [...]

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    Physics Week in Review (Valentine’s Edition): February 14, 2015

    Credit: Marcus DeSieno,

    Today is Valentine’s Day. In love? Or just the opposite? Express how you feel with physics-inspired Valentines—and anti-Valentines for those who perhaps aren’t huge fans of the holiday. Or check out these science-y valentines for geeks in love.  Related: The stats of Sex & Love: Mathematician’s formulae for how to pull abd who to marry. [...]

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    What Does It Take to Change a Mind? A Phase Transition [UPDATED]

    Credit: Zach Weiner/Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal,

    This week’s Virtually Speaking Science episode featured yours truly in conversation with Laurie Paul, a philosopher at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2014 Guggenheim Fellow, and author of a new book, Transformative Experience. We chatted about so-called transformative experiences, empathy, identity and the fluid nature of the self, and whether having a child [...]

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    Physics Week in Review: February 7, 2015

    Credit: Electron and Confocal Microscopy Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, USDA

    The physics in-jokes came fast and furious in this week’s episode of The Big Bang Theory. While telling Penny about his latest research over dinner, Leonard has a brainstorm insight, and ends up collaborating with Sheldon on a cosmology paper, which they post to the online arXiv. It gets covered on the Quantum Diaries blog [...]

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    Physics Week in Review: January 31, 2015

    Credit: Michael Grab,

    The Super Bowl is tomorrow, which means people were still obsessing over the so-called “DeflateGate” controversy stemming from the Patriots’ win over the Colts. This week, the N.F.L. Investigator Consulted with a Columbia Physicist. The verdict: Deflation Experiments Show Patriots May Have a Point After All; the pressure change could easily be due to atmospheric [...]

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    Physics Week in Review: January 24, 2015

    Image: J. Adam Fenster, University of Rochester

    Sunday brought two NFL playoff games, whereby the Seattle Seahawks eked out an unlikely victory over the Green Bay Packers, and the New England Patriots trounced the Baltimore Colts. But the latter game sparked a controversy (dubbed “DeflateGate” on Twitter) about whether the Patriots may have illegally deflated the football slightly to make it easier [...]

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    Physics Week in Review: January 17, 2015

    1997 Nobel Laureate Steven Chu. Credit: Volker Steger

    This week on Virtually Speaking Science, I chatted with physicist Ainissa Ramirez, co-author of Newton’s Football: The Science Behind America’s Game about her life as a self-described science evangelist and “Science Underground,” her new micro-podcast with journalist Bill Retherford. Related (since we talked a bit about the rare earth metals used in so many consumer [...]

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    Physics Week in Review: January 10, 2014

    Credit: Alberto Seveso,

    As you read this, we are making our way back to sunny Los Angeles after spending some time in Seattle. The Emerald City is on fire with Seahawks fever, so it seems appropriate to read that geologists Are Going to Measure Seattle Seahawk Fans’ Feetquake, via the judicious distribution of sensors around the stadium. Scientists [...]

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    Physics Week in Review: January 3, 2015

    Convective mass transfer in a champagne glass. Image credit: F. Beaumont et al.,

    Welcome to 2015 and take a moment to bask in The Beauty of a Grain of Sand on a Cosmic Beach. You, too, can start off the new year admiring a gorgeous photo of a barred spiral galaxy, along with thoughts from the Bad Astronomer on how big our human minds can be — even [...]

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