Halloween is a week away, and for those in search of costume ideas, here are some Physics-Themed Halloween Costumes to make zombie Einstein proud. If Jen-Luc Piquant weren't rocking the vampire look, she would totes dress up as a Feynman diagram. Also: Ten Nerdy Science Costumes for Halloween.
It's almost time for the premiere of the new Chris Nolan film, Interstellar! While you're waiting, here's How Building a Black Hole for Interstellar led to scientific discovery. Related: The Surprising Science Behind The Movie Interstellar: From wormhole highways to robotic space companions, scientific experts weigh in on Christopher Nolan's newest sci-fi blockbuster. Als0: These Real-Life Alien Worlds Could Become Humanity's New Home In Interstellar. (Don't pack your bags just yet, though.)
If you're late to Manh(a)ttan, WGN America's terrific new series, the network is having an all-day marathon this Sunday, October 26, 11:00 a. ET/8:00 a.m. PT. There's been a lot of press in the wake of the season finale and the renewal of the series, including a two-part post at the Preservation Nation Blog on The Truth Behind the TV Show: Part I and Part II. Related: Series creator Sam Shaw talked to Nerdist about science in TV storytelling and reactions to the female-centric story lines, and told Indiewire that he Understands Why You Didn't Watch Season One. (If you missed our Q&A with Shaw and EP/writer Dusty Thomason, you can find it here.) Also: Here are Nine Reasons Why WGN's Renewal of Manh(a)ttan is Good for Television. Bonus: Here's Ashley Zukerman (who plays Charlie Isaacs) on the narrative dynamics of the series:
"When we were researching the project for the first two weeks before we started shooting, a physicist came and gave us a lecture on the simplest way to describe the different designs of the bomb. And one thing he described was the way nuclear chain reaction gets taught at university is like a pen—a circular pen — that’s full of ping pong balls, and one ping pong ball gets thrown in and you immediately see the scatter effect of all that until they’re all bouncing around and hitting each other. And I guess that is our show: one little event ripples through everybody and it creates anxieties and tensions and secrets and humanity and life out of that one event. And then that one event actually is 10 events or 12 events that create people who are incredibly warm and intelligent and hopeful, and turns them into something else entirely."
Understanding Quantum Tunneling. Quantum tunneling sounds like science fiction, and does indeed feature quite often in the genre. But it is real, and plays a role in nuclear fusion, chemical reactions and the fate of the universe.
Jen-Luc Piquant adores this photo series by Singapore-based photographer Tan Ngiap Heng, showing dancers leaving behind light trails in long exposure shots. Per Lost at E Minor: "[D]ancers with LED lights attached to their bodies leave behind light trails in long-exposure shots, embodying one-of-a-kind signatures or calligraphy that only they could have executed."
We're All Just a Bunch of Waves, According to the Fourier Transform. "The transform is what allows us to look at really any mathematical function (likely representing a physical phenomenon) and change it to a function that is periodic, e.g. repeats itself through time. Number is the ruler, and it has a spectrum—a wave, like light or sound. We are waves, cycles in a cyclical world." Related: An Interactive Guide to the Fourier Transform -- an excellent in-depth explainer.
Physics Explains Ingrown Toenails. Plus, a scientifically accurate way to trim your nails.
Psychophysics: Are we Biological Billiard Balls? "Clearly, people obey the laws of physics. But nothing in physics chooses. Its rigid causations have no liberty. And physics (like the best Buddhists) feels only the present and its forces. But human psychology is different precisely because it evolved to choose between the attractions of different futures."
Lockheed Martin says it will have a small fusion reactor prototype in five years but offers no data. Cue the skepticism.
How To Squeeze 830 Miles Out Of One Tank Of (Diesel) Fuel And Remain Sane...ish. "Out of the nine teams that entered, only two managed to finish at all: a team of a lifestyle blogger and a Swedish automotive journalist, and my team, consisting of two of the smelliest, crankiest Jews ever to stumble out of an Audi."
Do We Live in the Matrix? Tests could reveal whether we are part of a giant computer simulation — but the real question is if we want to know... ("Why didn't I take the blue pill?")
Can Forces Be Transferred? "There is actually a way you can push a cart and measure the force on that cart."
Biomimicry and Bio-Inspiration: Of Geckos and Porcupines and the Lotus. What could an inventor of medical technologies based on nature learn from Spider-Man? Related: Geckos Alter Foot Orientation During Downhill Locomotion.
Quantum test strengthens support for EPR steering. "Steering refers to the ability of one system to nonlocally affect, or steer, another system's states through local measurements. The two systems are entangled, but it is an especially strong type of entanglement in which the systems are not just correlated, but correlated in a specific direction."
Ambition is a short film made by Oscar-nominated director Tomek Baginksi in collaboration with the European Space Agency. Per io9: "With a wasteland as their canvas, a Master and his Apprentice set about turning rubble into planets and moons, asteroids and comets, spinning them in orbit around a symbolic Sun."
Who really found the Higgs boson? The real genius in the Nobel Prize-winning discovery is not who you think it is. One note: ATLAS is just one of two experiments at the LHC (there are also many others) that helped discover the boson. Give CMS some love too, ya'll.
CERN Physicists Discover New Subatomic Particle. A newly discovered meson, built of a charm anti-quark and a strange quark, could deepen our understanding of the strong force.
Transatlantic data-transfer gets a boost. New links will improve the flow of data from the Large Hadron Collider to US institutions.
Researchers Created a Laser Bullet to See What It Would Look Like. "If you wanted to film a single light impulse to move as slowly on film as in our recording, you would have to use a camera operating at a speed of a billion frames per second."
Physicists Solve Longstanding Puzzle Of How Moths Find Distant Mates. Because there is no Match.com for Lepidoptera. "This a general problem—how animals, including ourselves, search for things.” Physicists have determined how a moth can track pheromones wafting on turbulent winds to their source.
Early Universe's Room Temperature Could Have Supported Life.
Reversible Laser Tractor Beam Could Be Used to Retrieve Nanoparticles.
Today's Super-Fast LED Lights Might Mean Tomorrow's Quantum Communication. Related: Quantum "Clippers": The best way to build a global quantum internet will use containerships to carry qubits across the oceans, say physicists.
How the Victorians Saw in 3D: stereoscopic photography. Related: The Electric Rise and Fall of Nikola Tesla: As Told by Technoillusionist Marco Tempest using the principles of Tanagra theater. (Here's the making-of video as a bonus.) To wit:
"The name comes from the figures excavated at Tanagra in the 1890s whose name became synonymous with perfect living miniatures, particularly female. The sideshow illusion consisted of a miniature stage where living actors appeared as real but tiny figures, through an arrangement of plain and concave mirrors. Its development as a sideshow attraction came about as a by-product of research into optical instruments which could better sustain the perception of depth. The use of concave mirrors has a long history in magic but for the Tanagra the stronger light of electricity was essential."
How mathematicians are aiding the fight against epidemics like Ebola. " Equations are not included as standard in medical kits. But in the backrooms of universities and institutes mathematicians are also contributing to the lines of defense."
Ten Things You Didn’t Know About the Anthropic Principle: And what it might — and might not — give us useful insights into.
The Future Has Arrived. Tractor beams, hoverboards and invisibility cloaks were once just futuristic impossibilities. Not any more.
The Hummingbird Effect: How Galileo Invented Time and Gave Rise to the Modern Tyranny of the Clock. ("Invented" time might be phrasing things too strongly. But it's an interesting piece.)
Power Plants Seek to Extend Life of Nuclear Reactors for Decades.
How Drinking a Beer Can Save You From Radiation Poisoning: "standard practice for scientists at Los Alamos who worked with tritium was to head off to a bar and get drinking. Beer is a diuretic, taking liquid out of the system. A few beers can up the body's turnover rate and flush out the tritium."
Researchers take a step closer to realizing a device-independent quantum cryptography protocol.
Weeks after winning a Nobel Prize for his microscope, Eric Betzig just revolutionized microscopy again.
"In the recent interactive installation Shooting Thoughts by artist Filipe Vilas-Boas, participants sent stars from their mobile devices to the ornate ceiling of a Gothic church in Paris. The shooting stars were projected on the interior of the church with the aid of lasers."
The European Space Agency just released a 3D flight simulation over one of Mars’s most mysterious features: its “chaos terrain.”
What's Hiding Under The Clouds Of Venus - Heavy Metal Frost?
It's been 55 years since the world saw the moon's far side thanks to Soviet spacecraft Luna 3 in 1959.
First female ISS cosmonaut adjusts to life in space.
Had NASA Believed in Merit: The terrible injustice of Jerrie Cobb, who deserved to be the first female astronaut, yet never made it to space at all. "Thirteen American women — today known as the Mercury 13 — were selected to participate in the three phases of testing. Jerrie Cobb was the only one who passed them all. Not only did she pass, her scores placed her in the top 2% of all candidates, meaning that if the same criteria that were applied to the Mercury 7 were applied to her as well, she would have been selected. But without official NASA backing, the testing and training programs for women were shut down."
For Female Physicists, Peer Mentoring Can Combat Isolation.
After four years in prison, physicist Omid Kokabee has been granted a retrial by the Iranian Supreme Court.
NASA Launches a SoundCloud Page Full of Audio Clips From Historic Missions. My fave is the interstellar plasma sounds.
How A Popular University Professor Is Teaching Math To Students Who Hate It. Terrific profile of the wonderful Steven Strogatz.
"The Illumaphone is an electronic musical instrument hand built by New York software engineer Bonnie Eisenman from six stolen coffee cups that uses spatial and light recognition to produce sound. The instrument is played a bit like a theremin, with the musician waving their arms around to manipulate the notes."
Does Complex Life in the Cosmos Owes Its Existence To Parasites? "What started out as a bacterium stealing chemical energy eventually became an organism providing chemical energy – in return for an evolutionary advantage."
Quantum Mechanics from a Classsical Multiverse. "In a paper published in Physical Review X, physicists Michael Hall, Dirk-André Deckert, and Howard M. Wiseman have proposed a new view of quantum mechanics that may be testable in a way that could prove that it alone is the correct interpretation. They call it the Many Interacting Worlds approach to quantum mechanics."
Via Boing Boing: "Watch artist Fabian Oefner manipulating ferrofluid (magnetized liquid) and watercolors into a stunning psychedelic pattern that appears on the cover of alt.pop trio Guster's forthcoming album Evermotion."
Visualizing Our Tech Worship With Giant Webs of Circuitry. "For Italian artist Leonardo Ulian, this is our universe. At its center: a microchip. Beyond: resistors, capacitors, inductors, transistors. Ulian’s “technological mandalas”—webs of circuitry in the form of the Hindu or Buddhist symbolic diagrams of the cosmos—are icons for an electronic age."
MIT Physicists Are Designing Microscopic Robots to Walk Inside Our Bodies (because bacteria are "badass navigators")
The Bad Math of the Biggest Loser: How the show most likely isn’t sending home the right people every week.
Surfer-Physicist Garrett Lisi Offers Alternative to String Theory—and Academia.
Supplies of rare earth materials are still far from secure.
Differences in surface tension can create Marangoni flow along an interface.
25 Years Ago, NASA Envisioned Its Own ‘Orient Express.’ "The National Aero-Space Plane was to be a revolutionary advance beyond the space shuttle."
How a CIA Physicist and Fidel Castro Helped Bring Us the Hubble Space Telescope. "Albert "Bud" Wheelon played an important but often overlooked, behind-the-scenes role in helping to mitigate the [Cuban Missile] crisis. Recently released CIA documents highlight how after the crisis, he put the U.S. on course to revolutionize spy satellites and ultimately space telescopes."
Billionaire Charles T. Munger "has donated $65 million to the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The gift — the largest in the school’s history — will go toward building a 61-bed residence for visitors to the institute, which brings together physicists for weeks at a time to exchange ideas."
"It's not an art installation, it's a science installation." Beginning in 2016, London's Science Museum will feature a new Mathematics Gallery, a pocket of reality where visitors can live abstractly within numbers. The very layout of the gallery will be based on the simulated turbulence field surrounding an experimental aircraft, the Handley Page Gugnunc, recorded in 1929.