This week in physics demonstrations, physicist and blogger Greg Gbur (a.k.a. Dr. Skyskull) discovered that making Lichtenberg figures is as much an art as a science. "The reference to “frozen lightning” is not a bad description because Lichtenberg figures are formed by essentially the same process as a lightning bolt, albeit on a much smaller scale." Check out a sample figure (right) and others on his site, along with details about the history and science of this nifty art form.
The Associated Press posted its original coverage of the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Devastating past, peaceful present: Ars Technica marks the occasion with a photo gallery, while The New Yorker dug up a classic from its archives: "Hiroshima," by John Hersey, profiling eight survivors. Related: America Reflects On The Bomb, 70 Years After Hiroshima. Also: Twilight of the Bomb. 90-year-old physicist Murray Peshkin remembers Trinity, Hiroshima and the nuclear legacy. "It’s not that I regret having done it. Under the circumstances it seemed the right thing to do." Bonus: This Frightening Animation by Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto Shows Every Single Nuclear Explosion That Occurred Between 1945 And 1998.
And there's more! Bethe, Teller, Trinity and the End of the Earth. Seventy Years After the Bomb, an Original Hiroshima Trolley Is Up and Running. Atomic amnesia: why Hiroshima narratives remain few and far between. Hiroshima: stifled stories and one man's memory of a cataclysm. How Hiroshima Survivors Are Leaving A Legacy For Science. Related: The deep influence of the A-bomb on anime and manga: Akira and beyond. Also: Hiroshima's literary legacy: the 'blinding flash' that changed the world forever. The bomb and a new scientific and technical landscape. Harry Truman's statement on Hiroshima signaled a number of changes. Yet we still know very little about the history of secrecy and censorship in wake of atomic bombings. Finally: Hiroshima's Radiation: a graphic illustrating the radiation unleashed by Little Boy, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, as compared to other key figures on radiation exposure. (Tomorrow, of course, will be the 70th anniversary of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki.)
What has nuclear physics ever given us? Quite a lot, actually, beyond the bomb. "Though their discoveries led to the harnessing of nuclear energy as a weapon, it should not be forgotten that the purpose of Rutherford, Geiger and Marsden’s experiments, as with much of scientific research, was simply to understand nature." Related: Seventy Years Later, Atomic Bombs Still Influence Health Research.
Blue Moon of 2015 Thrills Skywatchers, and Discovery News has the photos to prove it.
UFC Fighter Ronda Rousey Has Physics-Based Superpowers. It's like Wired's Rhett Allain wrote this just for me. For example, he calculated the kinetic energy of one of Rousey's punches: "Twenty-five joules! That might not seem like a lot of energy, but just lifting a typical textbook off the floor and onto a table is about 10 Joules. Do this every three seconds. Now weave and dodge at the same time. You will get tired quickly. Or, conversely, imagine getting hit in the face with two textbooks every three seconds."
IceCube sees highest-energy neutrino ever; could lead scientists to the source of ultra-high-energy cosmic rays.
Tiny black holes could trigger collapse of universe—except that they don't. Still, in principle, a tiny black hole could seed the formation of a new vacuum just as an impurity can seed the formation of a bubble in boiling water.
Theories of Everything, Mapped - a fantastic interactive from Quanta. From quantum gravity to the search for dark matter, explore the biggest questions in fundamental physics, and the network of theories proposed to answer them.
Can you make up anything in theoretical physics? (It may sometimes seem like that from the outside looking in, but really, no, you can't.) "Theoretical physicists, as they 'make up theories,' are not free to just do whatever they like. The standards in physics are high, both in experiment and in theory, because there are so many data that are known so precisely. New theories have to be consistent with all the high precision data that we have accumulated in hundreds of years, and theories in physics must be cast in the form of mathematics."
This Is What Controversies Look Like in the Twittersphere. A new way of analyzing disagreement on social media reveals that arguments in the Twittersphere look like fireworks.
BIG Architects has a feasible strategy for converting four iconic smokestacks in the center of London into a series of gigantic pedestrian-powered Tesla coils.
The scoop on the science of ice cream: "It's one of the most complex food products you'll ever consume: a thermodynamic miracle that contains all three states of matter—solid, liquid, and gas—at the same time."
Allotropy: Why winter spells trouble for the Tin Man.
Physicists Set a New Speed Record for Light-Emitting Quantum Dots.
Could quantum 'clocks' tread two different paths to general relativity? how interference with atomic clocks might be destroyed by phase shifts induced by gravitational time dilation. Related: Back-of-the-Envelope Gravitational Which-Way.
What is a Knot? Let Numberphile explain:
How Insect Vision is leading to more sensitive drones. A tiny, biologically inspired motion sensor could help small drones avoid collisions as they buzz around.
World's quietest gas lets physicists hear faint quantum effects. When the noise or entropy in a system is reduced, subtle information becomes visible, such as the faint word ‘Berkeley.’
Harnessing 'Spooky Action at a Distance' To Make a Better Battery. Quantacells!
A Few of Evelyn Lamb's Favorite Spaces: the Infinite Earring. "Topology is all about squishing and stretching; distance shouldn't matter. But the infinite earring illustrates the delicate interplay between topology and geometry."
Mathematical deja vu, and Coffee: "Last week I was in a hotel in Edinburgh where the whole bedroom was vibrating for some unexplained reason, at an almost imperceptible level. The Bessel functions in my glass of water were a key part of the evidence that persuaded the manager to move us."
If It Weren't for This Equation (Shannon's information theory), You Wouldn't Be Here.
Dimensions of Flavor: "Fibonacci lemonade has two variables: lemon juice and sugar. Beer has a few more degrees of freedom in the types and amounts of grains, hops, and malt."
Adaptive marketing has a downside. Pricing electrical power based on demand could lead to chaotic markets. This seemingly obvious way to make the electricity market better may actually make it worse.
Wood And Charcoal Cut Earthquake Research Down To Size. Wood-based products can have mini-earthquakes.
Bend me, shape me, any way you want me: Scientists curve nanoparticle sheets into complex forms.
Plan for supersized entanglement is unveiled by physicist.
A Helpful Derivation of Planck's radiation law (Part 1), i.e., "the correct formula/law for blackbody radiation."
A conversation with Neil Sloane, the Connoisseur of Number Sequences.
What Ant-Man Gets Wrong About The Real Quantum Realm.
Real Genius turns 30: How one Caltech woman helped inspire the lead female character.
Einstein, Edison and an Aptitude for Genius: Einstein hated standardized testing, but the reasons why will surprise you.
The enduring legacy of Leo Szilard, father of the atomic age.
Take a moment to appreciate the Microscopic Beauty of a Water Splatter. This striking image (above) of a water droplet drying was captured by accident and went on to win the grand prize in the 2013 Electron, Ion and Photon Beam Technology and Nanofabrication micrograph contest.
Cooking Up Altered States. "Churning raw milk sufficiently creates butter. Squirting lemon juice coagulates it into curd. These two phenomena are not as straightforward as they sound on the molecular level."
Interview: historian Alex Wellerstein And physicist David Saltzberg Discuss Getting History And Science Right On WGN America's Manhattan.
U.S. neutrino experiment's first result tantalizes. Early data suggest experiment will succeed in ranking ghostly particle by mass.
Maria Mitchell: How a Victorian Astronomer who discovered a comet Fought the Gender Pay Gap, and Won.
Crunchy on outside, soft and cold in middle: Comets are less like floating rocks, and more like deep-fried ice cream.
Check Out How The Solar System Moves In This Interactive Map.
Compared to a human lifetime, the Universe is ancient. But even a single year holds important changes.
This beautiful cosmic bubble is actually a dying star.
The first interplanetary cubesats are heading to Mars next year to test cheaper, better exploration.
Happy Birthday, @SarcasticRover! The best bot on Twitter reflects on three years of 'dumb science tweets.'
Hildegard of Bingen''s Cosmos and Its Music: Making a Digital Model for the Modern Planetarium.
The mystery of particle generations: Why are there three almost identical copies of each particle of matter?
Learning Physics Is Tough. Get Used to It. "There is no shortcut to learning physics."
The Logic of Lightning Strikes -- what are the odds? Your weekend Fermi problem.
India's Time Travel Comedy Has A Great Idea: Take A Selfie With Gandhi.
Sandcastles inspire new nanoparticle binding technique.
Tour Mauna Kea and the Site of the Thirty Meter Telescope.
A New Era for Origins of Life Science? "we've never had so many promising scientific angles..."
NOvA experiment announces first results regarding neutrino oscillations.
6 Graphs That Showed Landmark Discoveries—but Were Later Debunked.
Using carbon nanotubes to enhance the efficiency of laser-driven tabletop particle acceleration.
Learning from Hume; or, Hume and Particle Physics. "how would a true Humean regard today’s theoretical accounts of the world?"
Interesting Q&A with philosopher Philip Kitcher: "Current education in science treats all students as if they were going to have scientific careers. They are required to solve problems and memorize lists. For many of them, this kills interest very quickly. In my view, all students should be given an initial opportunity to pursue the science track as far as it goes. But for those who quickly decide that track isn’t for them, a different style of teaching is in order. That should acquaint them with important concepts, give them a sense of the character of scientific work, present some of the wonderful surprises of scientific discovery, and, above all, show how important scientific research continues to be to human life. Science literacy consists in the ability and the desire to follow reports of new scientific advances, throughout your whole life."
Neil deGrasse Tyson: curiosity about science is 'an ember that must be fanned.'
There Are Other Things in Chernobyl Apart From Radiation.
Wolfgang von Kempelen's chess-playing automaton. Long before Deep Blue, a chess-playing machine – the Mechanical Turk – fooled the world and helped to inspire the computer.
Nanoscale 'yolks' and 'shells' improve rechargeable batteries.
The 10 Famous Scientists You Would Most Want on Your Side in a Bar Brawl.
Can math solve the congressional districting problem?
Buzz Aldrin Proves the Federal Government Has A Form for Everything with travel voucher for his trip to the Moon. That's right: Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon – then claimed $33.31 in travel expenses.
Flame on! Do Humans Ever Spontaneously Become Human Torches?
Could High-Dive Jumpers Leap Over This Whole Pool?
Stephen Hawking Provides a Cosmic Intro to First Trailer for the Ben Stiller Sequel Zoolander 2.
A Look at the Chemistry and Physics Behind Fire.
How Quicksand Works and the Physics Needed to Escape From It: