The Christmas holiday approacheth, and for those of a Maker bent, here's how to Build A Sled For Slinging Snowballs -- Winter Warfare Will Never Be the Same. If you're more the craft-y sort, now you can deck the halls with Nobel physicists with this physics twist on the craft of cutting paper snowflakes. Bonus: Here Are the 2014 Star Wars Snowflake Patterns You're Looking For. And for your listening pleasure, we give you A Symphony of Vintage Computers Performing a Cover of the Christmas Song 'Carol of the Bells.'
Other holiday-related links: In Defense of Santa's Weight. "Santa’s behavior and public image are at odds with contemporary accepted public health messages,” argues a [satirical] British Medical Journal editorial written by Dr. Scrooge and colleagues. Also: here's a Festive Explanation of the Chemistry of Poinsettia Plants, and some insight into the Innovative Chemistry Of Tinsel -- plus some fun tinsel experiments you can do at home. Bonus: Seven Ways That Chemistry Puts The Magic Into Christmas
When Geminid Meteors Rained Down on Earth. If you missed the Geminids meteor shower, the Guardian was among the media outlets that captured the event in pictures. "Sky-watchers have braved freezing temperatures to enjoy one of the year’s most spectacular meteor showers. Clear skies, which sent the thermometer plunging, ensured a good view of the Geminid meteor shower."
On the shameless self-promotion front, you can hear me expounding about the awesomeness that was Season 1 of the TV series Manh(a)ttan on this week's Physics Buzz podcast: bringing nuclear physics to primetime TV.
Material Question: Graphene is fast, strong, cheap --and impossible to use.
How Fast Are the TIE Fighters in Star Wars VII?
The mystery of that magnetic train. "It is billed as the “world’s simplest electric train,” and it is almost certainly the case. Using only a battery, some strong magnets and some (bare) coiled copper wire, one can make the “train” travel numerous circuits through the copper “track,” until the battery is completely drained."
Modeling People as Particles: A universal law for the interaction of pedestrians in a crowd accurately captures human behavior.
Fibonacci's Quasiparticle: Unusual quasiparticles could lead to topological quantum computers.
Mathematicians prove the Umbral Moonshine Conjecture. "Monstrous moonshine, a quirky pattern of the monster group in theoretical math, has a shadow - umbral moonshine. Mathematicians have now proved this insight, known as the Umbral Moonshine Conjecture, offering a formula with potential applications for everything from number theory to geometry to quantum physics."
Mechanical Drawings and the Human Form Merge in Oil Paintings by Atsushi Koyama.
The Echoes of Hearts Long Silenced: artist/historian used digital processing techniques to hear again the pulses of people who have been dead for more than a century. In the 19th century, devices called sphygmographs were used to record a person's pulse.
How to Restore a Rothko: With Light: A conservation scientist explains how transparencies, computer algorithms, and ambient illumination can bring a faded painting back to life.
Resonant Architecture: The Crushing Din of Vibrating Buildings. "The sonic experiences—it's tempting to call them rituals—are nothing more that vibrating buildings shot through with high bass frequencies. The architecture is the instrument, making Resonant Architecture an earsplitting example of how we're sonifying the city—and everything else, too."
No more foamy beer, thanks to magnets (the magnetic fields help decrease "gushing").
Skyrmions like it hot: Pinpoint laser heating creates a maelstrom of magnetic nanotextures.
Should we think of quantum mechanics as a theory of many interacting classical worlds?
Decade-Old Quantum Mechanics Problem Solved: how to calculate real life behaviour of atoms.
The Sounds Behind The Millennium Falcon's Failing Hyperdrive. "Ben Burtt is the man responsible for creating much of the franchise's iconic audio and effects -- everything from the snap-hiss of a lightsaber to the sound of the Millennium Falcon's hyperdrive failing."
Quantum Immortality: Forget nine lives; if one interpretation of quantum mechanics is right, that darned quantum cat might have an infinite number of them.
Pavlovian Computer Circuits: New transistor design emulates the mind's plasticity.
New Norwegian TV Series The Heavy Water War Gives Us The Best Look At World War II Atomic Sabotage.
SciShow Explains the Science Behind the Ups and Downs of Air Turbulence:
From Plato's Cave to the Holographic Principle. "[T]he holographic principle says that the information contained within a volume can be represented as a hologram of the surface. Notice that this does not imply, in any way, that what unfolds within the room is an illusion, or that the information encoded on the walls is in some way more fundamental than that which fills the room - the statement is simply that the two descriptions are equivalent."
Is String Theory About to Unravel? Evidence that the universe is made of strings has been elusive for 30 years, but Brian Greene writes that the theory's mathematical insights continue to have an alluring pull.
What is time, really? Physicists engage in a strange debate about whether time really passes.
Microscope Uses Holograms Instead Of Lenses To Diagnose Disease.
Dogs Not Great at Math (Wolves Are Better). "In a cheese cube counting challenge, dogs struggled to prove they have any number sense at all. Embarrassingly for the dogs, some wolves took the exact same test and passed it."
How the physics of champagne and soda bubbles may help address the world's future energy needs.
Giant Space Microphones Will Record the Soundtrack of the Universe.
Autonomous Cars Will Require a Totally New Kind of Map constructed using LIDAR.
Atmospheric Reentry Looks Just as Sci-Fi as You Think.
Waves, folds and plastic flow: detecting the first signs of wear on metal surfaces.
Large Hadron Collider Revs-Up for Most Powerful Particle Collisions Ever. The LHC has been cooled to 4 degrees above absolute zero in preparation for next year's run. Related: This just might be The Data Plot Of The Week: Higgs Decays To WW In ATLAS. Also: Could the Higgs be Part of the Matter-Antimatter Problem?
Introducing the Foldscope: A Microscope You Can Carry In Your Pocket.
Fun Fairy Tale Glassware That Also Teaches You Physics of Refraction.
Black hole power in a lightning bolt. "Large commercial planes are equipped to route the electrical current from a lightning strike so that it avoids sensitive electronics, and most passengers may not even realize that a plane has been struck when it does occur. However, the electrical current and loud clap of thunder are not all that is produced by a bolt of lightning. It's only within the past 20 years that research has confirmed that lightning also emits x-rays and gamma-rays."
The Equation That Can Help Predict Zombie Migration Patterns.
Is Mars habitable? That’s tougher to answer than you might think. Early conditions could have fostered life, but would it survive the present conditions?
"Why Aliens Probably Exist," An Animation by New Scientist About the Possibility of Alien Life.
Artist Jonty Huriwtz creates itsy-bitsy nanosculptures -- possibly the smallest human forms yet created.
How author Neal Stephenson Is Helping To Make Snow Crash's Metaverse A Reality.
The Accidental Beauty of Flight Paths.
For 7,500 Years, We've Made Sculptures Out Of Data. Per io9: "The earliest data visualizations were likely physical: built by arranging stones or pebbles, and later, clay tokens."
What happens when you shoot a ball from a cannon in the back of a moving truck? This.
The Surprisingly Complicated Physics of Condensed Milk.
Quantum physics just got less complicated. An international team of researchers has proved that two peculiar features of the quantum world previously considered distinct are different manifestations of the same thing.
Preserving Manhattan Project Sites. "On Friday, the Senate joined the House in passing legislation to establish the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, memorializing the secretive World War II effort that involved some of the world’s top scientists and, in total, more than a half million Americans. The park will protect hundreds of surviving buildings and artifacts across three states — New Mexico, Washington and Tennessee — where the first bomb came to life 70 years ago."
Here's How Many 'Super Nukes' American Scientists Thought It Would Take To Destroy The World In 1945.
TRIUMF announces photo contest winners: Visiting photographers get an insider’s view of Canada’s national particle and nuclear physics laboratory.
Control on shape of light particles opens the way to the quantum internet.
Where Does Your Fat Go When You Lose Weight? You exhale it as carbon dioxide.
Designing a Mothership to Deliver Swarms of Spacecraft to Asteroids.
Haptic Technology Makes You Feel Things That Aren’t There.
Black Hole Fingerprints: Help the Radio Galaxy Zoo project Reach its One Millionth Classification.
The Dominant Life Form in the Cosmos Is Probably Superintelligent Robots. Skynet wins.
The Untold Story of Women in Science and Technology. Who Inspired You? "Listen to women from across the Administration tell the stories of their personal heroes across the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Share them yourself. Add your own. And honor their legacy in the best possible way: By committing to encourage a young woman to pursue a career in science." Related: Exploring the Origins of the Universe with Astrophysicist Dr. Erica Ellingson.
Scientists Are Not That Smart. Chad Orzel, writing in New York Magazine: "While the idea that scientists are uniquely smart and capable is flattering to the vanity of nerds like me, it’s a compliment with an edge. There’s a distracting effect to being called “really smart” in this sense — it sets scientists off as people who think in a way that’s qualitatively different from “normal” people."
What To Expect In 2015: General Relativity Gets Put To The Test.
“If it’s in a word or it’s in a book, you can’t get rid of The Babadook.” One of the best films Jen-Luc Piquant saw this year was the indie fright flick, The Babadook, whereby a mysteriously morbid pop-up book ushers in a monster that terrorizes a widow and her young son. That's one level, at least; the film is deliciously complex. Thanks to a crowd-funding campaign, an actual pop-up book will soon be available. And now the studio has issued a video e-card, How the Dook Stole Christmas, to haunt your holiday dreams. Per Nerdist: "Much like The Grinch and Jack Skellington before him, Mister Babadook decided he was going to get in on the holiday action this year. He knows Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen, and as you’ll soon recall, Mister Babadook made Santa take a big, nasty fall…"