Welcome to 2015 and take a moment to bask in The Beauty of a Grain of Sand on a Cosmic Beach. You, too, can start off the new year admiring a gorgeous photo of a barred spiral galaxy, along with thoughts from the Bad Astronomer on how big our human minds can be -- even though we are miniscule when compared to the cosmos. Related news for diehard stargazers: The First Meteor Shower of 2015 Peaks Tonight.
The science and magic of mulled wine. The holidays are technically over, but the cold weather provides an excellent excuse to keep the sensory memory of Christmas alive just a little longer with a warming glass of mulled wine.
Also check out the science behind your New Year’s Eve bubbly glass of champagne. In the words of the 17th century monk Dom Perignon, "Come quickly, brothers! I am drinking stars!" That's the line that kicked off my own 2007 post on the physics of champagne. Related: How the physics of champagne will improve power plants. Also: Physicists have analyzed convective mass transfer in a champagne glass. Per FYFD: "When you lift a glass of champagne or sparkling wine at midnight tonight, your nose and mouth will be greeted by a plethora of aromas, flavors, and sensations propagated by the tiny bubbles in the drink."
Big Bang To Be Investigated from a Balloon in Antarctica. "Cosmologists celebrated the new year by launching a new experiment on a balloon in Antarctica to investigate the Big Bang. A set of six telescopes known as Spider, for Suborbital Polarimeter for Inflation, Dust and the Epoch of Reionization, will circle the continent for the next 20 days, observing a haze of faint microwave radio waves that envelop space and are thought to be the fading remnants of the primordial fireball in which it all started 13.8 billion years ago."
Six Degrees to the Emergence of Reality. Physicists are racing to complete a new model of "quantum complex networks" that tackles the physical nature of time and paradoxical features of emergence of classical reality from the quantum world.
The Journey to the Other Side of Absolute Zero. "If the positive absolute zero is the point at which all motion stops, then the negative absolute zero is the point where all motion is as fast as it possibly can be."
Atomic “steps” slow rust at earliest stages. a new study from a team of American scientists on the atomic structure of metals could provide clues on how to mitigate the oxidation process.
Physics students at the University of Leicester claim to have calculated the amount of energy required to transform water into wine.
Stephen Hawking, Hawking Incorporated, and the Myth of the Lone Genius.
You can use thermodynamics to make ice fog this winter, just make sure you know which way the wind is blowing.
That Old Play Station Can Aid Science. "Making a supercomputer requires a large number of processors — standard desktops, laptops or the like — and a way to network them. Dr. [Guarav] Khanna picked the PlayStation 3 for its viability and cost, currently, $250 to $300 in stores. Unlike other game consoles, the PlayStation 3 allows users to install a preferred operating system, making it attractive to programmers and developers. (The latest model, the PlayStation 4, does not have this feature.)"
The Physics of How To Topple a Giant Domino with a Tiny One. Via Laughing Squid: "University of Toronto geophysics professor Stephen Morris demonstrates how to topple a giant 100-lb domino using a chain reaction started by a tiny domino that measures only five millimeters tall and one millimeter thick. Morris explains that a domino that is balanced against gravity has enough potential energy to knock down another domino approximately one-and-a-half times its size."
Watch Lord Kelvin's Thunderstorm Create Electricity With Falling Water. "In 1867, Lord Kelvin found a way to generate sparks (and a surprisingly high voltage) using twin showers of water. " No, it is not a practical way of generating electricity, which is why we use turbines at hydro stations.
A Weird Phenomenon That Might Change How We See Neutrinos.
Another Nuclear Reactor Closes, Punctuating New Reality for US Nuclear Power. "As another nuclear power plant closed this week, the United States faced a dwindling fleet of aging reactors, few new projects, and the challenge of safely mothballing radioactive fuel for decades."
Fusing the Manhattan Project into a national park. The newly authorized park hopes to make the forgotten history of the atomic bomb public knowledge.
Tracking the Fukushima radioactivity plume across the Pacific.
Saved By A Bad Taste, The Last 'Radium Girl' Dies At 107. Related: A gallery at Collectors Weekly highlights radioactive glassware and the collectors who love it. Per Boing Boing: "It’s the chemistry of uranium that makes Vaseline glass glow, not radioactivity. It wouldn’t make any difference whether the glass contained depleted uranium with the 235 isotope removed or natural uranium; the chemistry is identical. Uranium fluoresces under UV light."
Turning Pollution Into Pigment. "Artist John Sabraw creates beautiful paintings using the byproducts of acid mine drainage. Sabraw, an artist and professor at Ohio University, works together with OU chemists and engineers to turn the toxic runoff from abandoned mines into pigments, which he then makes into paints and uses to create his artwork."
A Fractal Poem: Michigan poet Jack Ridl offers a poetic version of self-similar structure.
"Data Visualization" is a project by New York visual artist Yousuke Ozawa that represents famous paintings as the computer code used to represent them them on Google Images.
A High-Tech Dance Performance Melds Human Bodies With Code.
Cells and Celluloid: A Science and Cinema Special from BBC Radio 4.
Holiday Physics Homework: How fast is that Nerf dart you just fired?
An Animated Look at the Impossible Science Behind the Ocarina of Time From The Legend of Zelda.
The Algorithms Solving Some of the World's Most Befuddling Problems. "For as vast a number of things the word “algorithm” might apply to, it’s still very often used as either a stand-in for “computer program” or for “computer program replacing human brain-tasks.” What an algorithm really consists of is much simpler: steps to solve a problem, or to solve a problem within a given timeframe. Programs implement algorithms, but so do humans and other things in nature. Where there is a problem, there is an algorithmic solution."
In Saturn's rings, a portal to the planet's interior. "Saturn’s rings act as a cosmic seismograph: They keep a record of the shifts and vibrations happening deep within the giant world. These internal movements pull ever so gently on the ring particles and alter their orbits around Saturn, creating visible gaps and waves in the rings close to the planet. By reading that pattern of gaps and waves, scientists can reconstruct what’s happening in Saturn’s gassy interior."
The Nerdwriter Explores Whether the Universe Is Actually a Hologram.