ADVERTISEMENT
  About the SA Blog Network













Physics Week in Review: July 12, 2014

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


Email   PrintPrint



This week, the marvelous documentary about the discovery of the Higgs boson, Particle Fever, became available on iTunes. It’s well worth a download. And Higgs fever continues apace, at least among particle physicists. The Higgs Particle Behaves In A Way Consistent With The Standard Model – Maybe A Dark Supersymmetry?  Related: Does The Higgs Violate Lepton Flavour Number? A CMS Result Tickles Wild Fantasies. And here’s a spot of satire: Bored Scientists Now Just Sticking Random Things Into Large Hadron Collider.

On the sports front, this week was the Tour de France, inspiring Rhett Allain of Dot Physics to ask some tough questions like just how steep is too steep a gradient for a road bike? And also? For the diehard physics buffs — homework!

The World Cup continues. How shocking was Brazil’s 7-1 defeat, mathematically speaking? Not as surprising as you might think, says The Guardian‘s Andrew Steele. Here’s more on that crushing defeat from FiveThirtyEight (which originally predicted a Brazil victory).  Related: Why the World Cup Suddenly Has So Many Goals – NASA engineer Rabindra Mehta explains the aerodynamics of the World Cup soccer ball.

The Physics of the Warped Wall: The science behind defeating one of Ninja Warrior’s toughest legendary obstacles.

Consider the ‘anti crystal’: a theoretical solid that is perfectly disordered, and Could Reveal the Secrets of Materials.

Highway for ultracold atoms in light crystals: an analogue of the Meissner effect in a ladder-like crystal of light.

Credit: Horst Punzmann et al., http://arxiv.org/abs/1407.0745

Tractor Beam Created Using Water Waves. Make waves in just the right way and they can pull floaters as well as push them, say fluid dynamics experts.

The mathematical fault in The Fault in Our Stars (Cantor’s diagonalization argument). “All those infinite sets are the same size. But [Hazel] is right that some infinities are bigger than others.”  Some Infinities Are Bigger than Other Infinities, and Some Are Just the Same Size – more on the math in The Fault in Our Stars.

Giving History the Finger: “Galileo’s finger’s role as relic, rather than as appendage to a corpse, dates to March 12, 1737.”

How do you determine the direction a bicycle went when you come upon just its tracks? The question goes back to the early days of the bicycle age and a 1903 Sherlock Holmes story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle called “The Adventure of the Priory School.” Surprisingly, Holmes’s reasoning in the story was incorrect.

A Tough Little Droplet Fights To Stick Around via an effect called the coalescence cascade.

Bruno Zumino Dies at 91; Sought to Tie Together Laws of Universe via a theory called supersymmetry. Related: The Theory of Supersymmetry, Visualized by CERN’s Artist-in-Residence Ryoji Ikeda.

Expect delays: why trains slow down when it’s hot.

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin is 84, an American hero, tireless, dreaming of Mars, not resting on lunar laurels. Calls NASA “adrift.”

The Man Who Turned Paper into Pixels: How Mathematician and Black Jack Wizard Claude Shannon Ignited the Information Age.

The Invention of Wireless Cryptography: Wireless technology has always involved a delicate negotiation between state security, secrecy, and citizen oversight.

Small Animals Live in a Slow-Motion World. The speed of life isn’t constant.

How To Build An Evryscope. Astronomers are building an entirely new kind of telescope that can photograph the whole sky simultaneously and continuously.

Build your own Geiger counter for a paltry $100. “Just be sure you’ve got a decent radioactive source on hand to test it.”

Millions of water drops collide to show the sound of rain in digital artist Yugo Nakamura’s video titled “Amaoto no Yurai,” or “The Origin of The Sound of Rain.” Per Spoon and Tamago: “The designer set out by recording the sound and motion of water drops falling on different objects – everything from soil, rock, tree and leaf to brick and skin. As expected, each sound was unique and didn’t even come close to what we recognize as the sound of rain. But when the sounds were combined – first 2-fold, then 4-fold and exponentially larger – the result seems to speak for itself.”

Physicists spot potential source of highest energy cosmic rays.

The Tale of a Vintage Spacecraft That’ll Never Make it Home: the International Sun-Earth Explorer (nicknamed ISEE-3) launched in 1978. A “group of ambitious volunteer-engineers made contact with a 1970s spacecraft, downloaded its data, and attempted to shift its trajectory homeward.”

The 6 Most Surprising, Important Inventions From World War I.

From terraforming to finding aliens, a geophysicist explains.

Forged in Cosmic Furnaces: The Geology of the Seahawks Super Bowl Rings (Prologue).

Your Brain Is On the Brink of Chaos – Neurological evidence for chaos in the nervous system is growing.

A mathematical treatment of how vampires can optimally control the human blood supply.

According to a new simulation, Mercury and other unusually metal-rich objects in the solar system may be relics left behind by collisions in the early solar system that built the other planets.

Interstellar Song: Solar Tsunami Washes Over Voyager 1.

Musician Nick Zammuto’s new video (“Great Equator”) was filmed entirely with microscopes. Zammuto has “an interest in making the invisible visible that goes back to his days studying chemistry in college, particularly his research on liquid crystals. From there, Zammuto got a gig working in the analytics wing of an art conservation lab at the same school, where he learned how to work a scanning electron microscope.”

Behold The Marvel Of Nature That Is A Cloudbow.

Beloved British Artist Ralph Steadman Illustrates the Life of Leonardo da Vinci. A portrait of the legendary polymath that grants equal dignity to the grit and the glory.

These Steampunk Computers Transport Us To The Victorian Retro Future.

Supermassive black hole blows molecular gas out of a galaxy at 1 million km/h.

Credit: Charles Leval, a.k.a. "Levalet", http://www.levalet.org/2014/07/danse-macabre.html

“Danse Macabre” (right), An X-Ray Street Art Installation of a Dancing Figure in Paris by artist Charles Leval.

Cosmos Drew Biggest Global Audience Ever for National Geographic Channel. “A whopping 135 million people — including 45 million in the U.S. — watched at least some of the 13-part science series, National Geographic Channel announced today. Overall, it aired on all 90 National Geographic Channels as well as 120 Fox-branded channels in 125 countries.”  Also? It just received 12 Emmy nominations.

Related: Here are Scicurious’s 5 favorite and teachable Cosmos moments.

Mythbusters Still Make Science Fun. A Nerdist love letter to the long-running Discovery Channel series. “What makes MythBusters unique in its approach to the scientific method (albeit a stripped-down version) is its willingness to not talk down to audiences. The show covers very complex concepts for a general audience, but for the most part the show’s presenters find a way to make them palatable.”

This Traffic Jam was stuck in a Belgian forest for 70 years. Or was it? Jason Torchinsky of Jalopnik says That “70-Year Old Traffic Jam” Isn’t Quite What It Seems To Be.

LEGO Reveals Female Scientist Minifigures: “the set includes three scientists: a paleontologist, a chemist, and an astronomer, along with instruments or examples of their work.”

Meet the Yoctonewton: physicist Dan Stamper-Kurn and colleagues made the smallest measurement of a force ever recorded.

Scientists watch the molecular dynamics of photosynthesis in action.

Tell Me Wave, Where Did You Come From? Who Made You? “Could a really clever person, Feynman asks, just by looking at the waves on the pool’s surface, imagine those waves rippling backwards and ‘figure out who jumped in where and when?’ In other words, can somebody read a wave’s history?”

30 Days of “Quantum Poetry” Celebrating the Glory of Science: From black holes to DNA to butterfly metamorphosis, bewitching verses on the magic of nature.

Artist and designer Niklas Roy uses tubes and a vacuum cleaner to show the joy of particle physics with his “Pneumatic Sponge Ball Accelerator,” an art installation in the Netherlands.

A Billionaire Mathematician’s Life of Ferocious Curiosity. “I wasn’t the fastest guy in the world. I wouldn’t have done well in an Olympiad or a math contest. But I like to ponder. And pondering things, just sort of thinking about it and thinking about it, turns out to be a pretty good approach.”

Space Vegetables Are the Best Hope for Quality Martian Cuisine.

Forget the Shortest Route Across A City, New Algorithm Finds The Most Beautiful.

Though we may not often consider it, our bodies are full of fluid dynamics, like blood flow.

A physicist in the neurobiology lab: After 10 yrs as a theoretical physicist, Larry Abbott discovered a new passion.

Why the Pigeonhole Principle Is One of Math’s Most Powerful Ideas. “As long as there are (N – 1) number of pigeonholes, and (N) number of pigeons, we know there will always be at least two pigeons in one hole.”

Stephen Hawking: “I was close to death after bout of pneumonia in 1980s.”

The Science of Citizenship: What’s at stake when schools skimp on science?

U.S. court hears New Jersey’s request to block research cruise; Opponents worry acoustic mapping effort could harm wildlife.  …

How Not To Attract Women to Coding: Make Tech Pink. “Do people really think that the only way you will ever get a girl to write coding for innovative software is to stick a butterfly somewhere in there?”

When Beliefs and Facts Collide. People who deny widely accepted findings on subjects like climate change are not necessarily ignorant of the science. New study found that “religious people knew the science [on evolution]; they just weren’t willing to say that they believed in it.”

The Ultimate Metaphysical Debate: Should We Try To Save The Universe?

Every Datum Tells a Story: The dawning of the age of meta-information.

European Spallation (neutron) Source ready to start construction.

Impact craters may have cradled life on early Earth.

This week would have been Nikola Tesla’s 158th birthday, so Elon Musk Donated $1 Million to the Tesla Museum, in response to a plea from Oatmeal creator Matt Inman. Inman penned the classic — and infamously controversialOatmeal Webcomic championing Tesla as the greatest geek who ever lived. Live Science offered up some Strange Facts About the Inventor, and  PBS has an entire special on Tesla: Master of Lightning. Others focused on the Serbian inventor’s darker side.  The Rise and Fall of Nikola Tesla and his Tower: The inventor’s vision of a global wireless-transmission tower proved to be his undoing. Also: Nikola Tesla’s Pro-Eugenics, Anti-Coffee Portrait of the Future.

Credit: (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute)

Dazzling New View of Europa’s Frozen Red Veins. The moon is one of the top candidates for supporting extraterrestrial life.

Satellites That Literally Sail on Light Get Official Launch Dates. (Where we’re going we don’t need fuel.)

Jeans Instability And A Spiral Bridge Between Two Ancient Galaxies.

Researchers Test Personal Data Market to Find Out How Much Your Information Is Worth. If you could sell your location data every day, how much would you charge?

The Infinite Man Is A Skillfully Amusing Time-Travel Romance.  Related: Subnormality: A Webcomic About A Time Traveler Trying To Comprehend Terminal Illness.

The Giant Fermi Bubbles in the Milky Way.

Patents of the Rich and Famous. Percussionist Marlon Brando Patented His Invention for Tuning Conga Drums.

Fun with Swarm Dynamics. The Insect Version of the Iron Throne Is Literally Made of Wasps.  Related: A TED-Ed Animation Exploring the Complex Social Organization and Construction of Ant Colonies.

Dead forests in radiation zone of Chernobyl won’t decompose.

Tuneable illumination: how quantum dots are perfect combination of molecular chromophores and bulk semiconductors.

Strange Radio Signals Mystify Astronomers. “[F]or the first time another giant dish has picked up one of the mysterious “fast radio bursts” (FRBs) that have been puzzling astronomers at the Parkes Radio Telescope. The find confirms these bursts indeed come from outer space, but beyond that their source is still wide open.”

Plato’s Math Errors Mislead Us Still. “Can math sum up all patterns? Is that a “rational” faith?”

Beach Sand Used To Make A Battery That Lasts Three Times Longer: Charge your phone with that white stuff from the beach.

In honor of the upcoming CW television series The Flash, New York City-based filmmaker Patrick Willems has reimagined the speedy DC Comics superhero through the lens of legendary Swedish director Ingmar Bergman.

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

Add Comment

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

Black Friday/Cyber Monday Blow-Out Sale

Enter code:
HOLIDAY 2014
at checkout

Get 20% off now! >

X

Email this Article

X