ADVERTISEMENT
  About the SA Blog Network













Physics Week in Review: June 29, 2013

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


Email   PrintPrint



The Time Lord and I have been vacationing with the family in Hawaii (island of Maui) all week, but Jen-Luc Piquant has nonetheless managed to gather a host of cool physics-ish links for your reading enjoyment anyway. Shameless self-promotion first: check out my new post up at Nautilus on Many Worlds and the nineties film Sliding Doors, Splitting Image: The Alternate Realities of the Multiverse.

One-hundred-and-five-year-old scientific mystery of nuclear-sized explosion in Russia finally solved. That would be Tunguska, and Slate has the scoop on video.

A new report from the American Association of Physics in Medicine finds the x-ray scanners at US airports are safe.

Fermilab produces its first potential astronaut: particle physicist Josh Cassada accepted in NASA 2013 candidate class.

This week’s visual gag (courtesy of Chris Clarke on Twitter): Conveying mathematical data in a way people will grasp immediately and viscerally.

A novel way of packing more data in optical communications by using “twisted light” has been shown to work in optical fibres – with terabit-per-second rates.

The Atlantic has the scoop on What the Night Sky Would Look Like If the Other Planets Were as Close as the Moon

Via io9: The strange behavior of strings of beads. “Watch what happens when you toss one end of the string out of the beaker.” The mind boggles.

Russian Meteor Shock Rippled Around Earth, Twice: we know this because infrasound is awesome!

Rhett Allain of Dot Physics asks another burning question: Could Superman Punch Someone Into Space? tl;dr: “No.” Why? PHYSICS!

On the origin of the Eiffel Tower and leaning to the left.

What lava looks like when poured over ice: researchers with the Syracuse University Lava Project decided to create their own simulation.

Shark Wheels: Revolutionary new tech or reinventing wheel? Well, it’s revolutionary in the sense that “their products  revolve around a central axis.”

This Is What It Feels Like to Pass Through A Singularity: fantastic post by io9′s Annalee Newitz.

Lord Kelvin and the Age of the Earth. “Today is the 189th anniversary of the birth of William Thomson”

Lego model of the ATLAS particle detector at the LHC. Photograph: Sascha Mehlhase. http://sascha.mehlhase.info/physics.php?open=atlaslego

Lego ATLAS: Here’s your chance to build one of the detectors that found the Higgs. A model of ATLAS in Lego has just passed the magic 10,000 votes needed for the company to consider marketing it. Feel free to add your own voice in favor, though!

Everything you always wanted to know about moving a gigantic 50-foot electromagnet but were afraid to ask.

How not to shoot a monkey: Aatish Bhatia addresses that video analysis of a classic physics problem.

Archimedes: Separating Myth From Science. “More than 2,200 years after his death, his inventions are still driving technological innovations.”  Yeah, the death ray is probably apocryphal, but it’s still an awesome story.

Via the Guardian: Z Machines, a three-piece rock band made entirely from robots, played guitar, drums and keyboard alongside Japanese pop singers in Tokyo on Monday.

Physics Buzz Podcast: The Mad Scientist vs Superman, and the four dominant ways that scientists are portrayed.

The Limits of Psychophysics, and Physics: “People aren’t biological billiard balls.”

Combustion is a remarkably complicated phenomenon fluid dynamically.

The four-hundred-year mystery of the Ashen Light of Venus.

Quick-Change Artist: A missing ‘partial’ neutrino may just be a boson in disguise.

How Real Scientists Shaped the Story of the film Europa Report.

Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona; NASA/JPL/University of Arizona.

Celestial Lava Lamp? On Jupiter’s “malevolent moon” you can find a “Lake District from Hell.”

Chad Orzel takes a closer look at new research on Atom by Atom Interaction: “Direct Measurement of the van der Waals Interaction between Two Rydberg Atoms.”

The 2nd century satirist Lucian of Samosata wrote the first detailed (fictional) account of a trip to the moon.

Discovery of two planets that appear to have formed in a stormy star cluster surprises astronomers.

Cosmic Awe!  Quoth Ethan Siegel of Starts With a Bang: “I promise you, you’re not the only one who freaks out a little when you think about it all!”

Fairy circle mystery solved by computational modeling. Similar circles may show up in other systems. (You didn’t really believe in fairies, did you?)

Ed Yong reports on how plants perform molecular maths: Arithmetic division guides plants’ use of energy at night.  But in what sense are plants “actually doing maths”?

Picturing science: teaching maths: the Guardian‘s Rebekah Higgitt looks at the objects used to teach mathematics and astronomy – conic sections, pencils, fruit and… chickens?

Why physicists need to get on Twitter: “people want to hear what you’ve got to say.”

In Lopsided Map of the Cosmos, a Glimmer of Its Origins: asymmetry in Planck data  offers new clue about Big Bang.

Poor Math Skills Make a Mortgage Default More Likely . Quoth Jen-Luc Piquqnt: “Gee, ya think?” Understanding how compound interest works is pretty important. Related: What It Took 20 Years on Wall Street to Learn. “We had almost driven the car off the cliff.”

Pinholes And Plastic Wrap Send Sound Through Walls. “The process relies on drilling small holes in a rigid material, such as a wall, and covering them on one side by a membrane made from the plastic wrap found in any kitchen.”

How To Win Monopoly In 21 Seconds. I wish I’d known this growing up; I could have trounced my brother.

Ask a Physicist: How does spacetime get bent? “The great John Archibald Wheeler had a ready description for how all of this fits together. ‘Spacetime tells matter how to move;’ he said, ‘matter tells spacetime how to curve.’”

For Better Science Meetings, Invite an Artist. And vice versa: for a nifty infusion of ideas for art, invite a few scientists.

Using computers to virtually test new molecules, researchers ID 1000s of organic materials for use in solar cells.

June 24, 1982: “The Jakarta Incident” – a cloud of light surrounded the airplane, then all four engines lost power.

Mind-Controlled “Pong” is One Step Toward a World Cup Kickoff.

Photographic gallery: The History of Early Computing Machines, from Ancient Times to 1981.

Supermoon gallery from around the world: “If you gazed toward the night sky [last] weekend, you may have noticed that the full moon looked a little bit brighter and bigger. That’s because this full moon occurred while the moon was at its closest distance to Earth — its perigee.”

The third culture: The power and glory of mathematics. “In 1959 C P Snow delivered a celebrated lecture in which he decried the man-made gulf between the arts and the sciences. Yet there is one subject that already spans the divide and is unjustly neglected — mathematics.”

The physics of magnets can model how Supreme Court judges vote: the Statistical mechanics of the US Supreme Court. Discuss.

Introducing the Blog on Math Blogs, by the American Mathematical Society.

A mathematical guide to the world’s most liveable cities: Can quality of urban life be boiled down to a formula?

Finally, in honor of Cocktail Party Physics, here’s a video (via Mental Floss) on How 26 Famous Cocktails Got Their Names:

Jennifer Ouellette About the Author: 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 views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





Rights & Permissions

Comments 3 Comments

Add Comment
  1. 1. David Cummings 6:36 am 06/30/2013

    Jennifer, as I understand it, there are multi-theories on the multiverse, at least two of which are quite different from each other (though not necessarily mutually exclusive):

    1) The Inflationary Cosmology Theory of the Multi-Verse, which posits an eternal inflation in which an infinite number of Big Bangs take place, some with laws of physics like our universe, some not. And by the nature of “infinite”, some almost exactly like ours but with some some changes, like Jennifer Ouellette being President of the United States.

    2) The Everett Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, which sees our existing universe (the one we are in right now) split into a number of nearly-identical copies with each quantum-mechanical “decision”… and having done so all through its history.

    I only mention this because multiverse is becoming all the rage and in my opinion the two separate concepts often get lumped together, while two me they should be discussed separately, even though they are not mutually exclusive.

    Link to this
  2. 2. Jennifer Ouellette 3:46 pm 06/30/2013

    Yes you’re quite right and the linked article makes the distinction pretty clear. It focuses on Everett’s Many Worlds.

    Link to this
  3. 3. jtdwyer 4:44 pm 07/3/2013

    Re. “Amazing bead chain experiment in slow motion…”
    - you kids musta never had a Slinky to play with!

    A Slinky exhibits the bead chain dynamics, adding spring tension for a ‘boost’. Having your own allows many ‘experiments’ and many hours of ‘mid boggling’ – get one!

    Link to this

Add a Comment
You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.

More from Scientific American

Scientific American Holiday Sale

Give a Gift &
Get a Gift - Free!

Give a 1 year subscription as low as $14.99

Subscribe Now! >

X

Email this Article

X