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.
Forget Buckyballs, Here Comes Volleyballene. Take 20 scandium atoms, 60 carbon atoms, arrange in a volleyball-shape and, voila!
Game Theory Calls Cooperation Into Question. A recent solution to the prisoner’s dilemma, a classic game theory scenario, has created new puzzles in evolutionary biology.
Spider silk dethroned as nature’s toughest fiber; Marine snails’ teeth prove tougher, thanks to unique structure.
The Quantum Mechanics of Fate and the Question of of Whether or Not Causality is a Two-Way Street. How time travel might explain some of science’s biggest puzzles. Related: Time runs bizarre in quantum world where past is changed by the future. The future might affect the past in some quantum physics situations.
Superposition Size Limits: New experiments with quantum random walks could determine the upper size limit for quantum superposition effects. Per Motherboard: "The boundary between the realm of the very small, where things might exist in superpositions of many things, and our world of the very big and the very organized is not quite as settled as we'd like."
The Math of Powerball: It’s the richest lottery game in the USA. When is it worth it to play? "When you say worth it, by the way, it has a very specific meaning when it comes to mathematics. It means that the amount you can expect to win, on average, is greater than the amount you have to bet in order to play."
Pop Culture Pulsar: the fascinating Origin Story of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures Album Cover. "When folks refer to the ... cover, they generally just say that it shows a series of radio frequency periods from the first pulsar discovered. But what does that really mean? How does the physicality of a pulsar result in radio frequencies that translate into the famous stacked plot? What produced the data, how was it collected, who created the plot and what is its significance?"
Cosmologists Discovered a New Kind of Crystal by Looking at Satellite Orbits. "To be clear, Boyle and Smith are not saying that satellites flying around Earth are an actual crystal. The idea is that this particular way of arranging four artificial satellites in orbit is how this theoretical crystal would look at the atomic level. Its atoms actually move in time. Like the satellites, if you viewed them as a static image, they would look asymmetrical, but a "movie" view would reveal highly choreographed atomic movements."
The Romance That Led To A Legendary Science Burn. Wolfgang Pauli's wife left him for (gasp!) a chemist. Oh, the humanity. "Had she taken a bullfighter I would have understood - with such a man I could not compete - but a chemist - such an average chemist!"
Five things scientists could learn with their new, improved particle accelerator. Related: 10 unusual detector materials: The past century has generated some creative ideas for tracking particles. Also: What CERN Employees Do in Their Spare Time.
Hunt Continues for Signs of Universe's Big Bang Expansion. Despite recent setbacks, the search for evidence of the universe's faster-than-light expansion marches on.
Dark Matter: An Axion to Grind? Dark Matter is high on the list of possible discoveries in the next run of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. However, depending on what Dark Matter actually is, shining light through walls might get there first. Related: Dark matter explains the Universe, but it doesn't work so well locally. Also: Dark matter could deflect a small fraction of incident photons, producing a detectable glow around galaxies.
Bad air day: 'tornado in a bottle' created in a wind chamber. "We can create a 5-metre-wide tornado inside the chamber. A tornado is a combination of rotation and suction. By angling the airflow from the fans around the lower chamber we control the rotation of a tornado vortex, and we create the suction by running the six huge fans in reverse. The beauty of our tornado is that we can move it along the ground at 2 metres per second."
Seagull Skytrails: An Experimental Video That Visualizes Seagull Flight Paths as Unending Processions of Birds.
In Fake Universes, Evidence for String Theory. Researchers are demonstrating that, in certain contexts -- namely, universes with a fisheye geometry known as anti-de Sitter space -- string theory is the only consistent theory of quantum gravity. Might this make it true?
Too Many Worlds: Nobody knows what happens inside quantum experiments, per this rather snarky article by Philip Ball. So why are some so keen to believe in parallel universes? Sean Carroll responds with a clear explanation of why these are The Wrong Objections to the Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. "Maybe someday the public discourse about MWI will catch up with the discussion that experts have among themselves, evolve past self-congratulatory sneering about all those unobservable worlds, and share in the real pleasure of talking about the issues that matter." Related: The Philosophical Incoherence of the “Too Many Worlds” Objection. "Physics is about fundamental rules and interactions, and those are the only things you can treat rigorously. And Many-Worlds is, in fact, a rigorous and logical treatment of these issues."
Infinity Is a Beautiful Concept – And It's Ruining Physics, says Max Tegmark. Related: If space goes on infinitely far, why would we expect there to be copies of all of us out there? Columbia University string theorist Brian Greene explains why the notion isn't as crazy as it sounds.
Is Your Theory of Everything Pure Enough? Fundamental theories of nature aren’t allowed to hide information.
A More Finely Tuned Universe. Could life as we know it have developed if fundamental physics constants were different?
Controlling water drops on the Space Station with LEGOs and electricity. "What do you do when you've got free time on the International Space Station and a bunch of legos? Build a Van de Graaff generator out of lego bricks, a rubber band, and a drill of course! In 2012 astronaut Don Pettit did exactly this when he was on board the ISS; he then searched around for objects to electrify, little knowing his fun experiments would lead to a full research paper on charged water droplets (published this month in Physical Review Letters) and some very real-world applications."
Scientific discovery wine pairings. For example, "Gravity paired with a rich Merlot."
10 Magnetic Hills, Gravity Roads, and Mystery Spots -- popular tourist traps where the laws of physics supposedly don't apply. (Hint: yes they do.)
Acid Break-Up: Physicists clarify that half a dozen molecules cause vital acid break-up as they dissolve in water.
Engineer, physicist collaborate to turn the inner workings of living cells into 'molecular movies.'
The International Year of Light is a great excuse to indulge in the weirdness of photons: here's 2o facts about light to brighten your curiosity.
Neutrinos From An Atomic Bomb: proposed 1950s experiment discarded in favor of using nuclear reactors to discover neutrinos.
Q: How Fast Do the Darts from a Nerf Gun Travel? A: Per Chad Orzel, "pretty damn fast for a toy dart gun” in any system of units.
A Visual History of Cosplaying Astronauts.
A Stanford Professor Explains Whether It Is More Fair to Catch a Tossed Coin or Let It Drop.
Gaugin as Experimental Printmaker Analyzed. "The techniques and materials Gauguin used to create his unusual and complex graphic works are little studied but a team from Northwestern University and the Art Institute of Chicago used a simple light bulb, an SLR camera and computational power to uncover new details of Gauguin's printmaking process -- how he formed, layered and re-used imagery to make 19 unique graphic works in the Art Institute's collection."
Supermassive Diet: Black Holes Bulk Up on Dark Matter.
Check out This Demonstration by Brian Cox That Proves Time Travel Is Possible Under Particular Circumstances (i.e., into the future) Related: 10 Time Travel Books That Need To Be Movies Right Now (If Not Sooner) -- or that you should read, if you haven't already.
Ingenious: Nautilus profiles MIT's Scott Aaronson. From computational complexity to quantum mechanics. "I would define information to be a measure of how surprised you are."
Explore our stellar neighborhood with this gorgeous Google Interactive.
Scientists say all the world’s data can fit on a DNA hard drive the size of a teaspoon.
Is An Infinite Amount of Oil Enough? tl;dr: no. We still hit peak oil in 2070, i.e., in 55 years. "At that time, we will have consumed (used or whatever you oil people want to call it) all the oil that we have found. After that year we will have a higher demand for oil than we can find it. So, in 2070 bad things happen if we are using oil at the same increasing rate that we are using it now. Remember, this is a crude oil model for the oil “found” and oil “used”. In this model, there is an infinite amount of oil but we still get to a bad place."
The science of theatre: Alan Alda’s eureka moment. He may be adored for his portrayal of Hawkeye the wisecracking doctor in MASH, but Alan Alda has a second passion: science. Which is why he has written a play, Radiance, about the hounding of Marie Curie.
Ancient and modern cities obeyed same mathematical rule.
You can use a simple cat toy (laser pointer) to demonstrate the Tyndall effect. “The Tyndall effect, also known as Tyndall scattering,” according to Wikipedia, “is light scattering by particles in a colloid or particles in a fine suspension.”
Physicists manage to cool macroscopic objects with laser light.
Scientists from CERN’s COMPASS collaboration have made the most precise measurement ever of the polarizability of pion – the fundamental low-energy parameter of strong interaction.
How 17 Equations Changed the World. What Descartes has to do with C. P. Snow and the second law of thermodynamics.
The Infinite Hotel Paradox: A Brilliant Animated Thought Experiment to Help You Grasp the Mind-Bending Concept of Infinity
Password cracking experts decipher elusive Equation Group crypto hash. Mystery solved after crackers find Arabic word that dogged Kaspersky for weeks. Related: “How do I stop this virus?” Equation Group victim pleaded for online help. Little did dkk know, s/he was wrestling with same 0-day that hit Stuxnet victims.
The First Field Recordings (1890). "Anthropologist Jesse Fewkes (1850-1930) was the first to use the Edison phonograph for recording legends, songs, stories, rituals and so on of North American Indians, making him a pioneer in field recording."
How Clocks Changed Humanity Forever, Making Us Masters and Slaves of Time.
The Math Learner's Checklist: "If you checked everything, then stop checking things! You didn’t actually experience all of those, did you? You’re just a compulsive box-checker. Stop cheapening the significance of the check."
Seduced by calculus: The 2010 Fields Medal was won by a French mathematician captivated by the crowning mathematical achievement of the Enlightenment.
New experiment doesn’t see fifth force, rules out class of dark energy models."Chameleon fields," we hardly knew ye.
10 Unidentified Sounds That Scientists Are Seriously Looking Into.
An 118 MPH wind could lift Mary Poppins.
Danceroom Physics: New technology helps people see the atomic world through art.
Your subconscious is smarter that you might think; for instance, it can do arithmetic.
Classical nova explosions are major lithium factories in the Universe.
Beautiful Linear and Geometric Tattoos by Berlin-based tattoo artist Chaim Machlev.
Is General Relativity Too Perfect? Physicists are (still) looking for flaws in Einstein's 100-year-old theory of gravity.
Physics for the people: Citizen scientists dive into particle physics and astrophysics research.
John Dee was the 16th Century's Real-Life Gandalf. Queen Elizabeth I’s court advisor was the foremost scientific genius of the 16th century, laying the foundation of modern science. Then teamed up with a disreputable, criminal psychic and things really got rolling.
We don't need more STEM majors. We need more STEM majors with liberal arts training. The ability to draw from other disciplines produces better scientists.
Zealots Help Sway Public Opinion. "Opinions rarely form in a vacuum. People are heavily influenced by the opinions of others in their social networks, whether they be real or virtual."
A Charged Explanation of Plasma, The Fourth and Most Common State of Matter: