First up: feast your eyes on this Stunning, Multi-Wavelength Image Of The Solar Atmosphere, courtesy of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, showing a brilliant array of “coronal loops,” magnetic fluxes which form around sunspots and extend into the solar atmosphere.
This week saw the passing of John Nash (the A Beautiful Mind mathematician) and his wife, both tragically killed in a car crash. It prompted many reflections on the man and his ideas, most notably his concept of equilibrium, a Cornerstone of Game Theory. How did this mathematical concept impact game theory and the world? Related: What the Nash Equilibrium Can and Cannot Tell Us. Nash once recalled Einstein's influence on his research; in fact, his math for economics, social sciences was inspired by a deep analogy to physical science. Also: John Nash's amazingly prescient 1955 letter to the NSA on exponential computational complexity and ciphers. Bonus: Every world in a grain of sand: John Nash's astonishing geometry.
The female mathematician who changed the course of physics—but couldn’t get a job. (Emmy) Noether's Theorem may be the most important theoretical result in modern physics.
How to Travel Faster Than Light Without Really Trying. It turns out there are several ways things can travel faster than light, depending on what you mean by a “thing,” “faster-than-light,” and “travel.” Related: Here's Sean (M.) Carroll, a.k.a. the Time Lord, on warp drives and scientific reasoning. “Laws of physics? Screw em.” Is not an e.g. of the latter.
Squeezed quantum cats: Researchers reach deep into their bag of tricks to create so-called 'squeezed Schrodinger cats'. These quantum systems could be extremely useful for future technologies.
24,882 Ways To Tie Your Necktie. Scientists discover tens of thousands of alternatives to the traditional Windsor knot.
The serious physics of super balls, that popular children's toy. "Drop a baseball on the floor and it will hardly bounce at all. Drop a Super Ball from shoulder height, and it will bounce back 92 percent of the way to the drop-off point. Super Balls also are just as bouncy vertically as they are horizontally, and they spin oddly."
The Physics of Shepherding. "A trio of theoretical physicists have recently used ideas from statistical mechanics and probability theory to try to develop an optimal strategy for capturing a skittish lamb near a precipice."
The Physics of Steph Curry’s Killer Jump Shot. Does increase in height in a jump shot make it easier to score? You betcha.
Will We Soon Have A 2-D Liquid? Computer simulations have predicted a new phase of matter: atomically thin two-dimensional liquid.
The Internet of Things May Depend on Tunable Antennas Made of Liquid Metal.
A New Theory to Explain the Higgs Mass. One of the greatest mysteries in physics could be solved by a mattress-like axion field that permeates space and time.
Face Off: Building a Toy Universe to Pit Quantum Theory Against Gravity Quantum physicist Sorin Paraoanu is building an artificial spacetime in the lab from SQUIDs--to test inflation and quantum gravity.
The strange fate of a person falling into a black hole. "Reality depends on whom you ask." Amanda Gefter on the black hole firewall paradox. See also my 2012 Quanta article on the subject and accompanying blog post.
Is the Universe Trying to Tell You Something? Inside Amy Schumer Explains How the Universe Works, with the help of Bill Nye (uncensored version): "The universe is essentially a force sending guidance to white women in their 20s." Sharp and smart satire.
The Big Bang Theory sitcom Raises $4 Million to Send STEM Scholars to UCLA. “We have all been given a gift with The Big Bang Theory, a show that’s not only based in the scientific community, but also enthusiastically supported by that same community — this is our opportunity to give back,” said co-creator/executive producer Chuck Lorre. “In that spirit, our Big Bang family has made a meaningful contribution, and together, we’ll share in the support of these future scholars, scientists and leaders.”
Why The Most Powerful Time Travel Stories Aren’t About Changing The Past. "time travel is also a powerful tool for exploring the ideas of memory and history, of helping us understand who we are as humans and as individuals."
Affirming support for Thirty Meter Telescope, Hawaii's governor calls for closing others; Wants one-quarter of existing telescopes on Mauna Kea removed.
Will the Large Hadron Collider be able to test String Theory? tl;dr: Definitely maybe. "If you had a crush on Susy and she said she might come by after work, around 8pm, but she hasn’t shown up by 10, what are the chances she’ll be there by 10:05? Right. And them extra dimensions? Well, they never said they would come by, you just couldn’t exclude they wouldn’t."
The Physics and Mathematics of Bungee Jumping. "Bungee cords are made of shock cords (elastomers) or from rubber. They DO NOT behave as linear springs. It would be dangerous to assume linearity of a real bungee jumping cord and make calculations on this basis."
From pouring cream to drizzling syrup, the kitchen is a fantastic place to witness the everyday beauty of fluid dynamics.
Physicists solve quantum tunneling mystery, found that quantum tunneling is an instantaneous process.
Risk Reporting Fail, Part Two: An Egregious Case of Journalistic Radiation-phobia.
Knots of material seen merging in the jets of a supermassive black hole. A collision within a black hole's jet provides evidence for a popular model.
Scientists combine evolutionary biology and mathematics to reverse antibiotic resistance.
From the Viking’s grave to the sunken ship: how photogrammetry is changing archaeology. It's "a method that uses two-dimensional images of an archaeological find to construct a 3D model."
Physicist Leon Lederman put his Nobel prize medal up for auction this week. Now 92, he won prize for physics in 1988 for discovering the muon neutrino. "Lederman’s wife, Ellen, said they had enjoyed having the medal. 'It’s really a wonderful thing. But it’s not really anything we need in our log cabin in Driggs, Idaho,' she said." It sold for $765,002. Related: How much for your Nobel prize? A buyer’s guide to the world’s top trophies.
Black Solar Cells Reach Incredible New Efficiency Record.
Film inspired by "minimalist sculpture and graphical notation, an alternative to traditional sheet music notation."
The Topologist's Sine Curve helps illuminate exactly what it means to be connected.
Particles Meet For A Charged-Up Jam Session In This Whimsical Short Film. The musical science lesson Positronic is “a sock-puppet-rock-saga about positrons and electrons.”
Gecko-inspired adhesives for microfluidics: reversible bonding allows for strong and affordable devices.
When will LIGO detect gravitational waves? A Q&A with Barry Barish: "it's not 10 years any longer. It's probably within five."
Four Reasons To Not Fear Physics.
20 excellent scientists in mainstream film and TV. Jen-Luc Piquant would add scientists from Bones and Eureka to the list.
Layers of Reality: A conversation with Caltech physicist Sean Carroll on the laws that govern entropy, complexity. "We know there's a law of nature, the second law of thermodynamics, that says that disorderliness grows with time. Is there another law of nature that governs the complexity of what happens? That talks about multiple layers of the structures and how they interact with each other? Embarrassingly enough, we don't even know how to define this problem yet. We don't know the right quantitative description for complexity. This is very early days. This is Copernicus, not even Kepler, much less Galileo or Newton. This is guessing at the ways to think about these problems."
Simple Machines, An App That Uses a Variety of Machines to Demonstrate Physics. "Destroy a castle with a lever — but beware of the dragon! Make music in a pinball arcade with inclined planes. Send satellites into orbit with a set of pulleys. Lift sloshing fish tanks with screws. Travel through a wondrous world with a wheel and axle. Split an iceberg of mirrors with a wedge."
Sunlight and Graphene Could One Day Power a Spaceship.
The Legacy of Sally Ride. "Sally Ride didn’t teach me that women can be anything they want to, just like men can; Sally Ride helped me to grow up in a world where the notion that you couldn’t be anything you wanted because of who you intrinsically are is absurd, and demonstrably untrue." Related: Sally Ride was awesome, but her space flight came too late.
Why Aren't The Aliens Here Already? Adam Frank on Fermi's paradox.
When We Changed The Laws Of Gravity: How the Solar Eclipse of 1919 spelled the end for Newton.
Ice Crystals Under a Microscope are Unicorn Tears. "This rainbow-exuding phenomenon, known as birefringence, is caused by most asymmetrical crystals... When light moving in different directions, or polarizations, travels at different speeds within a material, the light waves are split unequally. As the light makes it out, its waves vibrate in all directions and orientations, which is perceived by our eyes as a stunning array of colors. It’s the same thing that happens to plastic when it’s stretched thin."
This Is How You Fix A Space Robot 140 Million Miles Away From A Mechanic.
How You'll Die On Mars: crash, freeze, starve, suffocate? Or you might not get there at all.
How to make a white dwarf go supernova.
Ibn Al-Haytham’s Contributions to Optics and Renaissance Art.
How Math’s Most Famous Proof Nearly Broke. Andrew Wiles thought he had a solution to an age-old puzzle. Until it began to unravel.
Body Density Maps: An Extraordinary Map of Battle Death at the Somme, 1918. "It is hard to visualize such loss."
Magnetic Movie (2008): How would the world look if we could see the magnetic fields around us? ‘Hairy and messy’, says a NASA space scientist.
Mission Impossible-Style Electronics Dissolve on Command to Eliminate Waste. "The process relies on three things: a weak acid, a bit of wax, and heat."
Atomic telescope brings atoms to standstill, May let researchers see quantum to classical transition.
"Slinky" Lens Could See Cancer and Other Tiny Objects.
How Pragmatism Reconciles Quantum Mechanics With Relativity etc: a Q&A with physics philosopher Richard Healey.
Exploratorium is a wonderful 1974 short film by Jon Boorstin about the interactive science museum founded by physicist Frank Oppenheimer in 1969 at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.
The Logic That Stumped Brooklyn Nine Nine: The most famous logic puzzle from the best police comedy on television, and how to (finally) solve it. “There are 12 men on an island. 11 weigh exactly the same amount, but one of them is slightly lighter or heavier. You must figure out which. The island has no escapes, but there is a see-saw. The exciting catch? You can only use it three times.”
One-Word Math Classes: "Math class shouldn’t be a mishmash pile of facts, thrown together haphazardly, like an academic version of The White Album. It should be a perfectly interlocking tower of truths, climbing upwards with singular purpose—an academic Sgt. Pepper or Abbey Road. A good class isn’t a greatest hits record. It’s a concept album."
Proof, Pudding, and Pi: Math Books that Will Make You Hungry.
Poet and philosopher of mathematics and science Emily Grosholz reads three of her poems: "In Praise of Fractals," "The Dissolution of the Rainbow," and "Among Cosmologists."
How A Tea Party Turned Into A Scientific Legend: the burning question of whether its best to add milk or tea first when pouring a nice cuppa.
Bumping into the Invisible: the Coolidge Tube, 1911.
The Secrets Of The Theory of General Relativity In An Alphabetic Primer.
Albert Einstein Tells His Son The Key to Learning and Happiness is Losing Yourself in Creativity (or “Finding Flow”).
How Science Can Learn From Writing That Is “Not Even Wrong.”
The Art of Science Communication: William Zinsser on How to Write Well About Science. "Imagine science writing as an upside-down pyramid. Start at the bottom with the one fact a reader must know before he can learn any more. The second sentence broadens what was stated first, making the pyramid wider, and the third sentence broadens the second, so that you can gradually move beyond fact into significance and speculation — how a new discovery alters what was known, what new avenues of research it might open, where the research might be applied. There’s no limit to how wide the pyramid can become, but your readers will understand the broad implications only if they start with one narrow fact."
The Five Black Women PhDs of Theoretical High Energy Physics.
Raindrops are Mathematically Impossible, according to Minute Physics. Discover why every drop of rain is a minor mathematical miracle.
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