This week's viral images: Yes, androids do dream of electric sheep. Google set up a feedback loop in its image recognition neural network - which looks for patterns in pictures - "thereby creating hallucinatory images of animals, buildings and landscapes which veer from beautiful to terrifying," per the Guardian.
Measure the Earth's axial tilt this solstice. "If someone tells you “the poles have shifted,” as some conspiracy theory sites may tell you periodically, this is a simple, straightforward and easy experiment you can perform to test it for yourself!"
"Over/Under": A Gorgeous Photo Series That Simultaneously Captures the Beauty of Water and the Life That Exists Above and Below.
How Micrometer-Scale Magnetic Bubbles (Skyrmions) Might Save Computer Memory.
Wrinkle in time divides quantum world from everyday reality.
The Beautiful Science of Murmurating Starlings. "Every bird hangs close to its neighbor, and mimics his or her activity. This means that when one starling goes its own way, the others immediately surrounding it follow, and fluid, swirling patterns result. The phenomenon is called scale-free correlation."
A flexible circuit has been injected into living brains. Tested on mice, the rolled mesh fits inside a syringe and unfurls to monitor brain activity.
The OPERA experiment’s study of a fifth tau neutrino appearance has reached the level of “discovery.” Particle Weirdness Shows Physics Right About Being Wrong. OPERA experiment detected a fifth muon-turned-tau neutrino.
A Sheet of Graphene Is the World's Thinnest Lightbulb.
After swinging from disaster to triumph, the Light Sail test mission just ended with a fiery reentry. Related: Engineers Stumble on a Whole New Method of Laser-Based Spacecraft Propulsion. "The key, according to the Nankai University-based group, is in swapping out the mirrored sail—which captures photonic energy as radiation pressure in much the same way a regular air-sail captures wind energy—for a pure-black graphene sponge. Rather than reflect off of the sail, light is absorbed by the sponge, which converts that energy into propulsion."
Comet lander Philae awakes from hibernation. Related: First Probe To Land On A Comet Is Awake, But Our Nuclear Fears Cost Us Seven Months Of Data. Also: A Timeline of Comet Probe's 11-Year Journey. Rosetta spacecraft to change orbit in bid to strengthen Philae communication. This Is Where Philae Phones Home. "The Rosetta Flight Control Team work out of the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany."
In basketball, physics (technically a random walk model) predicts how big a lead your team needs to win.
It’s a bird…it’s a plane…it’s a bat! Flight of the Bats: Exploring Head Shape and Aerodynamics.
A Matchbox Car Engine Powered by Evaporation. Scientists Capture the Energy of Evaporation to Drive Tiny Engines. Devices produce electricity from spores resting on water’s surface, but practical applications remain distant.
Mathematician: Missing MH370 plunged vertically into ocean, explains lack of debris.
The Edge Of A Bubble Wall In Space: Where new stars and the matter they form from fight for dominance.
Physicists Just Cooled Molecules to a Hair Above Absolute Zero.
What Are The Limits Of Physics?
Scientists Used Lasers to Curve Electricity Around Solid Objects.
Science and Art Combine in Beautiful Short Film, "Birthlight," by Strange Freedom, in which a series of microscopic stills were put together in a time lapse format as a "study of the creation, destruction, and reforming of different chemicals."
Nano-violin has strings a millionth of an inch thick...but you can hear it play:
What the blank makes quantum dots blink?
Brian Cox: ‘Scientists aren’t priests of knowledge. They’re like plumbers.' The new face of science at the Royal Society talks about taking on Einstein, TV versus teaching, and why not everything he posts on Twitter should be taken seriously.
How To Behave When You Realize You Have Accidentally Traveled Through Time Or Created An Alternate Reality.
Computer scientists developed an algorithm that can show you how to be fashionable.
Light reflecting off a curved mirror in a smoky room will generally create one of these three shapes, called the ‘swallowtail’, the ‘pyramid’, and the ‘purse’.
The Nine Schoolgirls Challenge: Solve this variation of Thomas Kirkman’s famous 1850 puzzle (interactive).
Dr. Natasha Jackson-Booth on Rockets, the Ionosphere, and Samarium Pink Clouds.
Astronomers discovered a superbright galaxy and named it after soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo.
Quantum bouncer keeps light off the dance floor. Researchers make a box behave like an atom.
Cosmic Inflation’s Five Great Predictions: A “speculative” theory no more; it’s had four of them confirmed.
No, gravity hasn't killed Schroedinger's cat. "it is a nice paper that points out an effect of macroscopic quantum systems in gravitational fields that had not previously been studied. This may become relevant for interferometry of large composite objects at some point. But it is an exceedingly weak effect, and I for sure am very skeptical that it can be measured any time in the soon future. This effect doesn’t teach us anything about Schrödinger’s cat or the measurement problem that we didn’t know already, and it for sure has nothing to do with quantum gravity."
Meet the Little Geniuses of a Giant Science Fair.
Brain Programmed To Anticipate Sounds: Scientists find the route to listening is more complex than they thought.
Emmy contenders: Manhattan's John Benjamin Hickey is no physicist."This material scared me to death. And I loved that as an actor. I love being scared by something.... The science part of it was the most challenging."
Telling Stories About Magic In A World Of Science. "fictional magic tends to follow simple sets of very clearly defined rules." Related: Making Sci-Fi Movies True To Reality: a Q&A with Caltech physicist Spiros Michalakis. Also: A Brief History Of Science Gone Mad on the Silver Screen.
Caterina Sforza’s Experiments with Alchemy. She collected over four hundred alchemical, medicinal, and cosmetic recipes, and corresponded with other alchemical adepts about materials and laboratory techniques.
Why Mathematicians Are Hoarding This Special Type of Japanese Chalk.
Mantis shrimp inspires new body armor and football helmet design.
The Best Water Slide Looks Like Going Through a Wormhole.
Albert Einstein, the photoelectric effect, and solar panels.
'Apotheosis,' A Gorgeous Time-Lapse Film Capturing the Exquisite Colors of Solar Activity Over Iceland.
Massively Detailed "Hyper" Geometric Mosaics of the Basilica, San Marco, 1886.
"How to Imagine a Fractal." by Brooklyn poet, Nicole Callihan, "Enjoy Callihan's poetic play with recursion and infinite nesting -- be lulled by the back and forth of forever."
Get Lost in the Internet’s Mind-Bending, Math-Inspired Art.
Mathematics, spaghetti alla carbonara and you: why cooking is a lot like math.
Conlon Nancarrow’s Math-Mad Music. "performers would balk at the complexity of his rhythms."
Magna Carta of Space (1966), new laws for the final frontier by aviation lawyer William A. Hyman.
This Week in NASCAR Physics: Does Less Downforce Mean More Lift?
Who Knew Hair Dryer Physics Could be so Cool? "This kinetic art installation was created by French magician and juggler Antoine Terrieux as part of an exhibition for the Maison Des Jonglages (House of Juggling). From a series of updrafts for a paper airplane, to a spinning vortex of water vapor, Terrieux uses the dryers to show off the science of what he describes as 'eternally-perpetuating motion.'”
What Did I just Watch? Ferrofluids explained, "a liquid that becomes strongly magnetized in the presence of a magnetic field."
Surface tension draws bubbles into spheres, but the balance of forces holding the sphere together is delicate.
A drawing by the 19th century artist J.M.W. Turner, showing how a sphere can cast a shadow on a slanted plane in the shape of an ellipse.
How Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage Invented the World’s First Computer: An Illustrated Adventure in Footnotes and Friendship.
Photographer Captures Striking Images of Tiny Lightning Storms Sparked by a Tesla Coil.
How Do You 'Weigh' a Spiral Galaxy's Monster Black Hole?
Talking about how to talk about physics: Panel discussion with physicists and communicators Sabine Hossenfelder, Matt Leifer, Dagomir Kaszlikowski & Brendan Foster, from the New Directions meeting in Washington, DC.
When science gets ugly – the story of Philipp Lenard and Albert Einstein.
And speaking of things getting ugly, the discussion of Nobel Laureate Tim Hunt's ill-advised attempt at levity (or not, depending on which version of events you accept) continued to intensity. Hunt claimed, ‘I’ve been hung out to dry. They haven’t even bothered to ask for my side of affairs.’ Here is a Storify of Publizter-Prize-winning journalist Deborah Blum's tweets on the situation giving her firsthand counter-account (she was there and pressed him for clarification): Tim Hunt "jokes" about women scientists. Or not. Here's Why Many Think Tim Hunt's Sexist Comments Were No "Joke." As Blum later wrote in The Daily Beast:
"I do have sympathy for anyone caught in the leading edge of a media storm. But if we are ever to effect change, sometimes we need the winds to howl, to blow us out of our comfort zones. Because the real point here isn’t about individuals, isn’t about Tim Hunt or me. The real point is our failure, so far, to make science a truly inclusive profession. The real point is that that telling a roomful of female scientists that they aren’t really welcome in a male-run laboratory is the sound of a slamming door. The real point is that to pry that door open means change. And change is hard, uncomfortable, and necessary."
And here's more about why it matters: Stories of sexism in science: 'sorry about all the women in this laboratory.' With that in mind, commentary has been shifting toward extracting something meaningful: Furor Over Tim Hunt Must Lead to Systemic Change. Related: After Tim Hunt, another science is possible. Also: What Next: Just One Action for Women in Science (#just1action4WIS), plus a thoughtful comment thread.
Listen To the Mechanical Melody of This Watch's Tiny Animated Bird. "[I]n 2013, Jaquet Droz first revealed its Charming Bird watch that paid tribute to the company’s namesake with a tiny animated automaton bird inside. And now, nearly two years later, we finally have a chance to hear it chirp and sing using its tiny series of mechanical bellows."
Hypoallergenic Vegan Soaps Shaped Like Chemical Elements From the Periodic Table.
Physics in Verse: A Musical Ode to the Sun. "This song hails from a nerdy music group called The Chromatics, and features on their astronomy-inspired album, AstroCappella - "an astronomy class set to music" according to Sky & Telescope magazine."