This week on Virtually Speaking Science, I chatted with physicist Ainissa Ramirez, co-author of Newton’s Football: The Science Behind America's Game about her life as a self-described science evangelist and "Science Underground," her new micro-podcast with journalist Bill Retherford. Related (since we talked a bit about the rare earth metals used in so many consumer electronics these days): Salmon Sperm Could Help Us Recycle Rare Earth Elements. "It’s time to scrape that salmon semen off your plate, because it’s got a much better use than tickling your taste buds."

The Mysteries Of White Mist On The Surface of Black Coffee: Japanese physicists have finally begun to tease apart one of the more important cosmic conundrums.

Transition edge sensors: An update to technology more than a century old might be key to making the next big discovery in particle physics.

The skinny on moving under sand: "according to Daniel I. Goldman, a physicist at Georgia Tech ... granular substances like sand have the properties of solids and fluids. For this kind of swimming, he and a group of colleagues have shown that long and skinny is a very good shape. And they have also shown some surprising reasons for that."

Black Phosphorous -- The Birth Of A New Wonder Material. Materials scientists have discovered how to make black phosphorous nanosheets in large amounts, heralding a new era of nanoelectronic devices. Related: Graphene’s allure becomes magnetic. Graphene can sometimes borrow the magnetic properties of a nearby material. Also: Graphene: The Magical Bulletproof Material That Made Iron Man Give Up Iron.

Astrophysicists Prove That Cities On Earth Grow in the Same Way As Galaxies in Space. The way galaxies evolve from variations in matter density in the early universe is mathematically equivalent to the way cities grow from changes in population density on Earth, say cosmologists.

Direct measurement of gravity's curvature could lead to an improvement in the experimental value of the gravitational constant.

The grim reality of Stephen Hawking managing the most normal daily functions is messier than actor Eddie Redmayne can convey in Oscar-nominated film The Theory of Everything.

1997 Nobel Laureate Steven Chu. Credit: Volker Steger

"Sketches Of Science" Exhibit Lets Nobel Prize Winners Play With Crayons. "What happens when you gather a bunch of Nobel Prize winners, hand them a bunch of crayons and some paper, and ask them to go to town drawing the thing that won them said Nobel Prize? Such a situation was created for UC Davis’ exhibit 'Sketches Of Science: Photo Sessions With Nobel Laureates,' for which German photographer Volker Steger captured the laureates with their crayon recreations of their Nobel-winning discoveries."

When Einstein met H.G. Wells: Encounters in the Fourth Dimension.

Three Men and a Baby Universe: podcast with Caltech's Sean Carroll discussing fine tuning, Boltzmann brains.

The Beautiful Math Inside All Living Things.

Physicists debate whether quantum math is as real as atoms. Words like ‘ontic’ and ‘epistemic’ are hurled as weapons in war over meaning of subatomic equations.

Energy from Mixing Water. A new theoretical analysis could help boost the amount of energy that can be captured.

Paleomagnetism 101: Earth's magnetic field, which is generated by convection currents in the highly-conductive liquid outer core, has been documenting our planet’s past for billions of years.

Liquids and glasses relax, too. But not like you thought. A new insight into the fundamental mechanics of the movement of molecules offers a surprising view of what happens when you pour a liquid out of a cup.

The World's First Tutulemma. It's an analemma -- a figure-eight shape that maps out the Sun's annual trajectory across the sky -- that includes a solar eclipse.

"Ocarina of Time" taught us about parkour physics before it was cool: "even rolling won’t save you from the highest of heights."

The Physics of Climbing El Capitan.

A Billion Degrees of Separation: The Hottest And Coldest Temperatures Allowed By Conventional Physics.

Lepton-Flavor-Violating Higgs Decays Fit In With LHCb Anomalies.

Are building blocks for RNA floating around on interstellar space ice? Scientists investigate.

Single-Photon Quantum Computer Chips Are Scaling Up.

Wonky, Warped and Weird: Pulsar Vanishes in Spacetime.

Nerds in Love: The Multiverse Takes the Stage as Constellations Puts Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson in a Rom-Com Tesseract. Vulture's review was mixed, while the New York Times reviewer said that it "may be the most sophisticated date play Broadway has seen. This 70-minute fugue-like production, which opened on Tuesday night at the Samuel J. Friedman Theater, takes that most elemental of dramatic setups — boy meets girl — and then spins it into a seeming infinitude of might-have-been alternatives."

Check out Echoes, Close-Up Video by Berlin-based artist Susi Sie of Slow-Moving Liquids Swirling Around Like Cosmic Gases.

Can A Boulder Stop A Speeding Truck? A Forceful New Study Investigates.

High-Speed Video Reveals The Source Of That Incredible After-Rain Smell: "That smell has a name. It's called petrichor ... The smell is released in tiny aerosol clouds that raindrops emit upon impact."

"The next wave of CT scanners combines motion correction technology and organ-wide coverage to limit radiation exposure — while also obtaining hi-res images of soft tissue, organs and bones as they move within the body. Translation: They can acquire remarkable images of your insides in motion."

A mathematical philosophy: a digital view. Gregory Chaitin’s exploration of randomness in computing.

To the collider! "Small rock come out of big rock! Small rock fundamental!" A classic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic.

The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History: The official atomic museum of the United States explores the explosive and productive history of a much maligned energy source.

Why We're Shooting Another Rocket Into the Northern Lights. "the Auroral Spatial Structures Probe (ASSP) mission is unique in that it will attempt to map the structure of magnetic and electrical fields within the aurora, of which we currently know very little about."

Would Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, and Bill Nye survive the Oregon Trail? The realities of our favorite MS-DOS game.

How Big Would A Meteorite Have To Be To Wipe Out All Human Life? Short answer: 60 miles wide, give or take.

Mirror, Mirror: After six years of grinding and polishing, the first-ever dual-surface mirror for a major telescope is complete. Related: Meet the Amateur Comet Hunter Who Out-Gazes the Big Telescopes.

Space Debris Expert Warns About Dangers of Orbital Junk.

New calculations may support a dark matter discovery by DAMA -- but expect this to continue to be a controversial claim for awhile yet. Related explainer: Dark matter in galaxies: Either there’s an unseen source of mass, or the laws of gravity are wrong. But only one can explain what we see. Also: Meet the axion: the dark horse of the dark matter hunt. Related: Dark Matter, Explained by 11-year-old Lucas Belz-Koeling.

The Mathematical Secret That Changed The Shape Of Fashion. "Fields Medal-winning mathematician Bill Thurston's mathematical influence can be seen in a number of places: Textbooks, journal articles, in university classrooms, and in one rather unusual place: On the runway."

A Wearable Furnace: Keeping Toasty Warm with Nanowire Fabric.

The Harriss spiral is constructed using a simple process of dividing rectangles. Credit: Edmund Harriss

The golden ratio has spawned a beautiful new curve: the Harriss spiral. Inspired by the golden ratio, mathematician Edmund Harriss discovered a delightful fractal curve that no one had ever drawn before. But it’s not just a pretty picture, it contains some lovely theory – and brings the golden ratio into a family of perfect proportions.

A Graphic Cosmogony: Illustrators Imagine the Origin of the Universe. Per Brain Pickings: "twenty-four of today’s most celebrated illustrators and graphic artists each take seven pages to tell their version of the story of the universe’s origin and how our world came to be. There are unusual takes on traditional creation myths like The Book of Genesis... imaginative homages to evolution, gorgeous interpretations of Japanese folktales, and all kinds of fanciful alternative mythologies that fuse the playful with the profound."

Last week, researchers claimed to have developed a poker-playing computer program that is nearly unbeatable. What are the implications for the old debate about whether poker is a game of skill or luck? My own post exploring this question is here. Related: Falling Victim to the "Gambler's Fallacy" Could Really Ruin Your Day.

An Ambassador for Physics is Shifting His Mission: Departing Leader of CERN Ponders Uncertainties That Lie Ahead.

Ben Lillie, physicist and founder of the Story Collider, gave a fantastic talk at TEDx New York on, of all things, the origins of the element lithium.

The Flying Boy Experiment of the 1700s Entertained Audiences By Electrifying a Kid. "Demonstrations of electricity were one of the most popular events of the age. For the audiences members, they were fun and amazing. But for the boys in them, there were just painful." Related: Strange Antique Medical Devices That Promised to Cure Everything With Electricity.

In this high-speed video, the Slow Mo Guys demonstrate fire-breathing.

Thorium Power Is the Safer Future of Nuclear Energy. "Nuclear fission using thorium is easily within our reach, and, compared with conventional nuclear energy, the risks are considerably lower."

Art + Science = Innovation. Modeled after a Paris lab that opened in 2007, Le Laboratoire Cambridge is part of a network of exhibitions called ArtScience labs.

What our messages to ET say about us. Our latest message could be full of LOLcats and celebs. Maybe we should try to do better, or keep quiet altogether.

xkcd Explains How Long It Would Take a Bowling Ball to Sink to the Bottom of the Mariana Trench.

The many tragedies of Edward Teller, born this week 107 years ago. "after 1945 Teller’s scientific gifts essentially lay undisturbed, stagnating in all their creative glory. Edward Teller the theoretical physicist was slowly but surely banished to the shadows and Edward Teller the nuclear weapons expert and political advocate took his place."

Thin atmosphere is enough to keep many exoplanets spinning. Even planets close to their stars won't end up locked with one side facing them.

Uh Oh: Salon Is Scaremongering Again. Or, No, carrying your cellphone will not cause cancer.

Why Do Zebras Have Stripes? New Study Makes Temperature Connection. Zebras in warmer climates sport more stripes, perhaps to keep them cool or healthy.

Mating market theory: the math of one-night stands and long-term relationships.

Gravitational Measurements Go High-Resolution.

Fascinating 3D-Printed Fibonacci Zoetrope Sculptures. "These 3d-printed zoetrope sculptures were designed by John Edmark, and they only animate when filmed under a strobe light or with the help of a camera with an extremely short shutter speed."