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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.
  • The third eBook in our Ask the Experts series, The Human Body and Mind tackles questions about our own strange and mysterious biology. ...

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  • Physics Week in Review: March 28, 2015

    Credit: Ben Shields et al./University of Adelaide

    The much-ballyhooed Large Hadron Collider restart hit a snag this week, thanks to an electrical short discovered over the weekend, apparently caused by a metal particle. (Hey, it’s the most complicated machine ever built! It’s sensitive! Remember that infamous baguette that knocked it off kilter back in 2009?) Engineers and technicians may need to warm [...]

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    Physics Week in Review: March 21, 2015

    Credit: Tom Wagner, http://iowatom.weebly.com

    That deafening sound you heard over Wednesday and Thursday was the sound of millions of science-minded folks collectively banging their heads against their computer screens in frustration. The trigger: a fear-mongering Op-Ed in the New York Times Style section by Nick Bilton, who decided that the new Apple watch and similar smart watches and wearable [...]

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    CSI: Picasso: X-Rays Reveal the Master’s Materials

    "Wheat Stack Under a Cloudy Sky," Vincent van Gogh

    Every field has its raging debates among impassioned experts, and the art world is no exception. Case in point: some art historians long suspected that master painter Pablo Picasso used common house paint rather than the oil paints traditionally used in his era, which would make him the first known artist to do so. But [...]

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    Physics Week in Review (Pi Day Edition): March 14, 2015

    Planet – bottom of a glass containing half and half, water, food coloring. Stars – salt, cinnamon, baking powder. Credit: Navid Baraty, http://www.navidbaraty.com

    Today we celebrate the Pi Day of the Century: March 14, 2015, is the first five digits of pi, or 3.1415.  It’s also Albert Einstein’s birthday, so Sean Carroll reminded us how they are intimately connected; yes, Pi has something to do with gravity. So did Rhett Allain over at Dot Physics: Why is Pi [...]

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    Physics Week in Review: March 7, 2015

    Credit: EPFL

    Brrr! Winter still has much of the country in its iron grip. While you’re waiting for spring to make its presence known, perhaps you’d like to try your hand at photographing Snowflakes in Freefall.  A team of researchers at the University of Utah have developed a Multi-Angle Snowflake Camera to do just that. Related: here [...]

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    The Physics of Diving Gannets, Bird Navigation, and Speedy Tiger Beetles

    Photo courtesy of Lorian Straker (Smithsonian) and Sunny Jung

    Jen-Luc Piquant was at the APS March Meeting in San Antonio, Texas this week, a longtime favorite conference, and often touted as the largest physics conference of the year, covering a diverse range of topics: biophysics, fluid mechanics, materials (exotic or otherwise), complex systems, quantum mechanics — it’s a treasure trove of cool cutting-edge physics. [...]

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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, http://marcusdesieno.com

    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, http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2865

    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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