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The Return of Physics Week in Review! February 22, 2014


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We’re back from our travels with some nifty new physics: the best of the backlog of stuff we perused upon our return from that mysterious Land With No Internet Connection.

Big Bang Secrets Swirling in a Fluid Universe: “To a sound wave, the cosmos has the consistency of chocolate syrup.”

Could RHIC Strangelets Spawn Doomsday? tl;dr: No.

Theoretical physicists may have stumbled onto a solution to the black hole “information paradox.” Related: Don Marolf (the “M” in “AMPS”) helps explain what Stephen Hawking actually said about black holes.  And so do the folks at SciShow.  Bonus: Here are Hawking’s Ten Best Science Jokes.

The Black Hole’s Tale: Matt Strassler offers some physics-inspired poetry on the ongoing firewalls/info paradox debate.

Quantum Theory claims: “All tales are told!”
But gravity demurs; for Einstein’s bold
Equations show that black holes tell no tales
And keep their secrets hidden deep within.

Crisper Images Through Physics: Quantum Microscope Uses Spooky Entangled Photons To See Better, Possibly to Peek Inside Living Cells.

Jalopnik’s Jason Torchisnky wrote a post a few months ago demolishing the claims of a company that sells Fuelshark, a device that supposedly improves your gas mileage. The company wasn’t happy. So Jason apologized for the fact that they sell a product that doesn’t work.

“I’d like to reiterate that based on my own tests, evaluations of the internals of the product, and consultation with experts, the Fuelshark does absolutely nothing beyond casting a novel blue glow in your footwell. I have found Fuelshark’s multiple claims of how their product works to be contradictory and surprisingly fanciful. I’m not sure if they genuinely believe it works in the way they’ve described, or if they’re just hoping that enough technical jargon and hand-waving will make people just accept it as truth.”

Those aren’t black holes, says physicist George Chapline, they’re dark energy stars.

Soundscape. Courtesy of Michael Towsey.

Seeing Sound. Scientists hope to use images like these to assign a unique acoustic signature to an ecosystem.

Vector boson fusion? A new class of processes is observed while sifting the data from the 2010-2012 running of LHC. Related: Unexpected Decays of the Higgs Particle: What We Found.

Here is the Higgs ‘explained’ by the man himself (Peter Higgs) in 120 secs on YouTube.

Mega-Doughnuts: CERN to Study Plan for 100-Kilometer Atom-Smashers.  This Couple’s history is intertwined with 60 years of CERN: they are still often in the laboratory’s cafeteria, arguing physics. …

The Department of Energy’s Diminishing Support for Particle Theory: A “Calamity.”

How do physicists avoid p-hacking with long-shot hypotheses? Adjust p-value threshold.

Columbia University string theorist and popular author Brian Greene launches World Science U, with free courses for everyone.

Want Bullet-Proof Skin?  Scientists are experimenting with one of toughest natural materials on earth: spider silk.

Retrocausality: a physicist explains how to send messages back in time.

Let there be light: Cosmologists reconsider epoch of reionization.

Trapped Electron Reveals Its Mass: New measurement of particle is 13 times more precise than previous estimates.

The square root of beautiful (vintage mss): “Charles Fisher, took a solitary pleasure in calculating the square roots of numbers from 2  to 589, not bothering to write down the 24 perfect squares to 576.”

Nuclear fusion? Laser-wielding physicists find promising hints.  Related Q&A: What Would You Do With the World’s Most Powerful Laser?

Seeing Skies Thru Galileo’s Eyes: Online database allows scientists to virtually peer through world’s first telescopes.  Related: How a Book Thief Forged a Rare Edition of Galileo’s Scientific Work, and Almost Pulled it Off.  Bonus: Neuroscientists Discover The Secret Behind Galileo’s Illusion.

How to design an interstellar communications system.

The Grand Collisions That Make Snownadoes and Arctic Sea Smoke.

Because dark energy is so weird, researchers are … creative.

NOvA sees first long-distance neutrinos.

Micromigrations: Revealing the Hidden Patterns of Birds and Insects in Motion.  … Related: Replace a flock of birds with fireflies on a dark night, and this computer-genrated swarm is about what you’d get.

Eleven Years of Research Found Zero Evidence Mobile Phones Cause Cancer.

Step aside, Bobby Fischer. Ants Playing Chess Find New Solutions To Old Problem.

Angry Birds: How Do You Change Red to Pink?

It’s up, up and away for ancient trapped helium at Yellowstone.

Snow Plow Projectile Physics.

The unaired TV pilot for The Big Bang Theory is quite different from what actually aired.

The study of fundamental physics has practical benefits. We should do more of it. Not just for that reason.  Related: Why the world needs more Leo Szilards.

Are Parallel Universes Unscientific Nonsense? Max Tegmark’s Insider Tips for Criticizing the Multiverse.

The Lego Movie: a parable about the multiverse? [SPOILERS]. Related:  The Many-Worlds Hypothesis And The Hardest Super Mario Level.

Noise: A Visualization of Sound through Stop Motion.

Quantum Internet: First Teleportation to a Solid-State Quantum Memory. A European team of physicists has demonstrated a device that can teleport quantum information to a solid-state quantum memory over telecom fiber, a crucial capability for any future quantum Internet.

Sports Are Science: “Science is best understood as a process, not a collection of facts.”  Like football! Here’s why kicking field goals is easier in Denver: Less air = less drag on the ball, so kicks go farther. Related: what’s the Coriolis Force on a Kicked Football?

It’s also true of Olympic sports. For instance, great ski jumpers are masters of aerodynamics, and Olympic women ski jumpers would jump equally far on the moon.  How Fast Can a Skater Turn in the Speed Skating Short Track? Like athletes who compete on ice, skiers rely on film of liquid beneath skis to provide low friction to glide. Finally, curling is rather unique among target sports because it allows athletes to alter the trajectory of their projectile after release.  Bonus Podcast: the physics of snowboarding

The physics of celebrity boxing: George Zimmerman vs rapper DMX.

The gender issues of Sports Illustrated‘s swimsuit issue remain, but a video of its zero gravity shoot with model Kate Upton hints at the strangeness of space.  …

New Planck data may shed light on the inflationary era of the very early universe.

Making fingerprints light up with nanoparticles.

To date, particle supercollider detects no evidence of dark matter.

The Zero Theorem, A New Film by Terry Gilliam That Mathematically Explores the Meaning of Life.

Credit: Hugh Turvey, http://www.x-rayartist.com

X-ray photography that shows the world in a whole new light: Hugh Turvey’s images of everyday objects.

Raman spectroscopy reveals Renoir’s true colors: Portrait gets a digital makeover to restore faded red pigments.

Newton’s Apple: Science and the Value of a Good Story.

Quarks in the Looking Glass: A recent experiment at Jefferson Lab probed the mirror symmetry of quarks. Related:  Quarks Know Their Left From Their Right: How electron interacts with other matter depends on which way it’s spinning.

Interactive Mirrors Built from Arrays of Moving Objects. “New York-based artist Daniel Rozin creates amazing installations and sculptures that have the ability respond to the presence of a viewer. Among his best known works are an ongoing series of interactive mirrors built from complex arrays of moving objects including wooden pegs, circular bands of laminated rings, plastic spokes and even pieces of discarded trash. Using custom software and video sensors Rozin has the sculptures react in real-time to create a live visual representation of a viewer’s likeness.

Aerodynamical insets: bumblebees can fly in air thinner than atop Mt Everest.

A Short Explanation of Ferrofluid, A Type of Fluid That Has Properties of Both a Solid and a Liquid.

Mathematician calculates 177,147 ways to tie a tie.

Is energy conserved in a Universe with dark energy?

This is the science vs. theology debate we wanted: Sean Carroll vs William Lane Craig.

A mathematical model of complex systems predicted the revolutions occurring around the globe right now. Related: Can Twitter Predict Major Events Such As Mass Protests? Argument is persuasive but is it true?

Baking and Math blog finds that fractions are hard (or, Way Too Many Brown Butter Cookies).

Hand-Cranked Kinetic Sculpture Simulates a Droplet Splashing into Water:

Henri Poincare: The genius who led the doomed fight for decimal time.

BaBar still breaking new ground after 20 years (the physics experiment, not the fictional elephant).

Might I be a cosmic freak?” On Boltzmann brains and quantum fluctuations.

What violins have in common with the sea: wave dynamics. how scientists worked out the mathematics.

After 400 years, mathematicians find a new class of solid shapes.

In memory of the men and women who lost their lives in the quest for space exploration.  …

A Little Butt Music, courtesy of student and famous Bosch painting.

Statistically Significant: Michelangelo D’Agostino taps his physics ingenuity daily as a data scientist.

A view of the sun’s edge. Image credit: Alan Friedman

Science and art collide in space images: What are we really seeing when we look at photos of planets and stars?

Ants are even stronger than you imagine: New research finds that ants’ strength lies in their neck joints.

Celebrating 25 Years of Not Getting Lost Thanks to GPS – and Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

Plus ca change… An early scientific screed/rant on the disparaging of the sciences from 1873.

Jeopardy’s Controversial New Champion Is Using Game Theory To Win Big.

‘Black widow’ pulsars consume their mates. The first rapidly spinning black widow has been discovered using only gamma rays.

Curiosity, discovery, love, and other things that give life meaning without violating laws of nature.

The Means Justify the Ends, or, Mathematicians are Sherlocks and Physicists are Mycrofts.

The Diamond particle accelerator in Oxfordshire: Britain’s answer to the Large Hadron Collider.

Seeing again : geometry, cartography and visions in the work of Opicinus de Canistris (1296-C.1354).

KnowThat?!, A Video Series Teaching Science Using American Sign Language.  Related: Comedian Reggie Watts Teaches Students Bad Science in 70s Sitcom-Style Show, Teach.

New Survey: Americans Don’t Even Know What They Think About Science.

Real glass that bends without breaking? Mollusk shell holds the key.  Related: The Science Behind The Transparency of Glass And Other Amorphous Solids.

Why strange loops could be an argument for artificial intelligence.

A Quantum Adventure: “the problem with atoms is that they exist in 3-dimensional space.”

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.





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