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Cocktail Party Physics

Physics With a Twist

Physics Week in Review: April 27, 2013

First things first: There is a movement afoot of sorts within certain sectors of the high-energy physics community to rename the Higgs boson to better reflect all those who contributed to its theoretical development and eventual discovery...

April 27, 2013 — Jennifer Ouellette
An-Ti-Ci-Pa-Tion: The Physics of Dripping Honey

An-Ti-Ci-Pa-Tion: The Physics of Dripping Honey

Forget Big Questions like dark matter, dark energy, supersymmetry, and the quest for a grand unified theory for a moment — what we really need physicists to focus on is the mystery of why strands of sweet, sticky honey can get so long and thin as they drip without actually breaking...

April 21, 2013 — Jennifer Ouellette

Physicists Tackle the Shrinking Proton Puzzle

Back in 2010, physicists were baffled by the results of an experiment to measure the radius of the proton using an exotic form of hydrogen. It was significantly smaller than expected: 0.00000000000003 millimeters smaller...

April 18, 2013 — Jennifer Ouellette

Physics Week in Review: April 13, 2013

"The annals of theoretical biology are clogged with mathematical models that can be ignored or, when tested, fail." Biologist E.O. Wilson set off a mini-firestorm with an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal topped by a provocative headline claiming "Great scientists don't need math." The actual text was a bit more nuanced than that; Wilson's main point, supporters say, was to encourage students not to be discouraged from pursuing a career in science just because they struggle with math.Stepping up to the plate to bat for Wilson's team, Ashutosh Jogalekar wrote, "In many fields math is a powerful tool, but only a tool nonetheless; what matters is a physical feel for the systems to which it is applied."Others didn't see it this way, most notably Berkeley mathematics professor Edward Frenkel, who wrote an impassioned response for Slate...

April 13, 2013 — Jennifer Ouellette

Meet the Mandelbulb

Fans of British fantasy author Piers Anthony's Mode series may recall that the second book, Fractal Mode , speaks of a strange world that represents a perfect three-dimensional model of the famous (to mathematicians, anyway) Mandelbrot Set -- a stunning geometrical shape that results when you take a particular equation and apply it to a number, and then to the result, and then to each subsequent result after, ad infinitum .I've written about chaos and fractal patterns before, most notably in the work of painter Jackson Pollock...

April 8, 2013 — Jennifer Ouellette

Physics Week in Review: April 6, 2013

This week kicked off with April Fool's Day, when I normally stay off the Internet until all the silliness subsides. But props to Fermilab for its April Fool's joke, "announcing" its new director...

April 6, 2013 — Jennifer Ouellette

Physics Week in Review: March 30, 2013

We have been Down Under in the Land of Oz all week, but Jen-Luc Piquant has been zealously compiling cool physics-y links for you anyway. By the time you read this, we will be landing in Los Angeles, arriving earlier than we left Sydney...

March 30, 2013 — Jennifer Ouellette

Tunnel Vision: Probing the Physics of Fire Ants

"Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise. It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, Yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest." -- Proverbs 6:6-8The above proverb adorns the Web page of Nathan Mlot, a graduate student in mechanical engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology...

March 29, 2013 — Jennifer Ouellette

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Scientific American Health & Medicine