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Cocktail Party Physics

Physics Week in Review: April 25, 2015

Credit: Julian Salaud, http://julien-salaud.info

Here’s a treat for fans of movies and the brain: an article called Strange Continuity. Throughout evolutionary history, we never saw anything like a montage. So why do we hardly notice the cuts in movies?  Sure, it’s not technically physics but it’s a topic I love and have written about for Pacific Standard and on [...]

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Cocktail Party Physics

Physics Week in Review: April 18, 2015

“Ride of the Valkyries” by Richard Wagner. Credit: Reify, http://reifynyc.tumblr.com

In honor of Tax Day in the US, here is a piece on the IRS’s Favorite Mathematical Law: Armed with Benford’s law, “the IRS can sniff out falsified returns just by looking at the first digit of numbers on taxpayers’ forms.” So, beware. A Grand Theory of Wrinkles: A collaboration between mechanical engineers and mathematicians [...]

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Cocktail Party Physics

Physics Week in Review: April 11, 2015

Credit: Niyoko Ikuta, http://www.yufuku.net/artists/niyoko-ikuta

The Large Hadron Collider’s Second Run broke its own energy record for accelerating particles when it started up again this week. Here’s an inside look at how the atom smasher has been amped up.  Related: The LHC made simple: here’s what it’s doing in five simple steps. Also: The three main ways physicists look for [...]

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Cocktail Party Physics

Physics Week in Review: April 4, 2015

Credit: Mana Morimoto, http://manamorimoto.tumblr.com

First up: a spot of science-y April Foolery: Physicists Warming Up the LHC Accidentally Create a Rainbow Universe. Related:  CERN researchers confirm existence of the Force (the photos alone are hilarious).  Also: Smithsonian displays Wonder Woman’s invisible jet for April Fools’ Day. Bonus: Six of Ben Franklin’s Greatest Hoaxes and Pranks.  A bit of foolish [...]

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Cocktail Party Physics

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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Cocktail Party Physics

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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Cocktail Party Physics

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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Cocktail Party Physics

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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Cocktail Party Physics

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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Cocktail Party Physics

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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