This week on Virtually Speaking Science, I chatted with Caltech's Spiros Michalakis about quantum computing, quantum information, and when we might expect Google to have a quantum computer inside every self-driving flying car. Then there was a bunch of stuff about the implications for space and time being emergent that blew Jen-Luc Piquant's mind and should inspire science fiction fans everywhere.
Stephen Hawking Warns "God" Particle Could (Theoretically) Kill Us All If Science Gets Enough Funding. But don't panic just yet! According to the Time Lord, reports that Hawking says the Higgs could destroy universe are correct; it could. Unlikely, though. Matt Strassler was even more succinct: "No. The Higgs boson is not dangerous and will not destroy the universe."
Betelgeuse: The Clock Is Ticking, and the Alarm is Set for 100,000 Years.
The big problem with the Apple Watch is that time is an illusion.
Evolution’s Random Paths Lead to One Place: A massive statistical study suggests that the final evolutionary outcome — fitness — is predictable.
The sound of an atom has been captured. Scientists show the use of sound to communicate with an artificial atom. They can thereby demonstrate phenomena from quantum physics with sound taking on the role of light.
SpaceX Recovers From Last Month's Explosion With a Flawlessly Beautiful Launch.
"Grab your mouse, Ensign — you have the helm." 10 Apps That Are The Next Best Thing To Being In Space.
Meet Germanene, Graphene's Newest 2-D Competitor: It's a single-atom-thick array of germanium atoms that could make for super fast transistors.
The New Terahertz Night Vision Can See Through Walls, Skin. Related: Can We Hack Our Vision To See Infrared With The Naked Eye? A team of biohackers is attempting to modify the human sensory spectrum.
Big Bang Mystery Extends Into Nearby Galaxy, Puzzling Cosmologists. Astronomers think stars should contain three times more of the element lithium as they actually do—and new observations of distant stars add to the mystery.
Quantum harmonies: how science and music have influenced each other.
Check out this clever Rube-Goldberg machine that is powered by light and magnifying glasses. Per Laughing Squid: "Japanese Internet service provider au Hikari created an intricate and fascinating Rube Goldberg machine of sorts that uses a solid beam of light as fuel. The amplified light fuels a number of different elements like a tub of water and a marble moving down a chute, but it all keeps coming back to optics."
True Tales of Science: When two theoretical physicists crossed paths at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York, the Story Collider was born.
When MIT Publishes Science Fiction, You Should Pay Attention. "This year’s edition [of Twelve Tomorrows] is guest-edited by Bruce Sterling, who prefaces the collection of stories, interviews, and reviews with an admission that while the MIT Technology Review, in its ordinary incarnation, serves up the kind of speculative material that science fiction writers treasure (and occasionally crib from), the fiction issue is there to make sense of the larger context from which these technologies emerge."
Finding The Milky Way's exact place in the vast structure of the Universe is surprisingly hard.
Brain Buster of the Week: The whys and hows of attractor solutions in cosmology.
Watch A Man Climb Into An Active Volcano: "George Kourounis rappelled nearly 400 meters (1,300 feet) into an active volcano to have the adventure of a lifetime and, of course, take a selfie." Know who else did something crazy like that? A 17th century Jesuit priest and polymath named Athanasius Kircher. Check out these remarkable 17th Century Maps Of The Earth's Interior by Kircher, who has been hailed as the last Renaissance man and “the master of hundred arts.” His masterwork Mundus Subterraneus was inspired by a subterranean adventure Kircher himself made into the bowl of Vesuvius.
Researchers Reel from Defunding of Only UC-Owned Observatory. "For [Alex] Filippenko and others, Lick Observatory, perched just east of San Jose, California, on Mount Hamilton, represents the university’s fundamental contract with the people of California to cultivate the next generation of scientists and humanists. Yet, last September, to the outrage of many UC astronomers, students and lawmakers, the UC Office of the President announced it would be withdrawing all funds from the observatory by 2018 to shift these resources to newer facilities like the Thirty Meter Telescope, a $1.2 billion international collaboration currently under construction."
Not-So-Dark Matter May Explain the Milky Way's Missing Galactic Neighbors.
Edgar Allan Poe, Part-Time Cosmologist and Big-Bang Philosoper. His final work, Eureka, makes one wonder if he was prescient or just plain crazy.
Lasers Reveal Underground 'Super Henge': The mysteries surrounding Stonehenge just got deeper.
The History of the Helium Crisis (podcast): "how the helium market got to the edge of that economic cliff, why some physicists rely so heavily on helium, and what they're doing now to survive in the helium market."
This Code-Based GIF Art Replicates Nature's Natural Algorithms: It's very much an evolutionary process, where the best ideas survive and are refined, with occasional mutations or leaps forward. That's reflected in the images, which visually, in addition to the behavior that generates them, are inspired by biology and the natural world.”
Does life play dice? "What could be more irresistible than the idea that two of the most mysterious subjects in science – quantum physics and life – are connected?"
This May Be The Longest Con In Pseudoscience: John Keely's 25-year scheme pushing a 19th century perpetual motion machine.
Graphene detector to improve night-vision goggles, chemical analysis tools and airport body scanners.
Buckyballs And Diamondoids: An Unlikely Teamup To Make Chip Components Molecule-Sized.
Saturn Ring Rapidly Creates and Destroys its Moonlets.
MIT scientists Use Cameras and Fancy Algorithms to Track Spinning Space Junk; This approach could let cleanup crews match a target's movement so they can safely snatch it up.
Found Poetry in the Universal Knowledge of Christiaan Huygen's Great Cosmotheoros.
"Towards the end of his relatively short life (he died at age 66, completing work enough for a number of very gifted and exacting people) Huygens embarked down the science fiction road in pre-science fiction days, writing wonderful and provocative outre ideas within what was his general/.universal statement of knowledge of all things , a wonderful book entitled Cosmotheoros, The Celestial World Discover'd: or, Conjectures Concerning the Inhabitants, Plants and Productions of the Worlds in the Planets."
What does it feel like when everyone else finds the Higgs, and you don't? A short film on the ups, but mainly downs, of a difficult search.
Inspired by the compound eyes of common fly: Pesky insect inspires practical nanopatterning technology.
A mesmerizing pendulum wave demonstration with 16 bowling balls in a North Carolina forest.
A Black Hole Doesn't Die -- It Does Something A Lot Weirder. A short primer on Hawking radiation.
So You Want to Understand Bayes' Theorem and/or Look at Photos of Cats. "The problem with p-value is that it doesn’t take any past evidence into consideration." Fantastic explainer from Jamie Bernstein.
Go With The Co-Flow To Stabilize Chaotic 'Whipping' In Microfluidic Jets. "When researchers created a whipped jet in polydimethylsiloxane oil, a viscous dielectric material, they were surprised to see the chaotic motion switch over to a steady-state helical structure."
Kurzgesagt Explains Neutron Stars and the Weird Ways in Which They Work. "Neutron Stars are some of the strangest things in the Universe. Not quite massive enough to become black holes they are basically atoms as big as mountains with properties so extreme it’s mind-blowing. And if you get too close to a neutron star you are in big trouble…"
Star Trek: Papercraft: "Alex Manfredini turned his love of sci-fi ... into a beautiful line of finely crafted paper creations of the Starship Enterprise NCC-1701."
How to Build the Modified Z-6 Jetpack Worn by Boba Fett in the Star Wars Films From Scratch.
Run away! Run away! Eh, not so fast. Germans Boared with Chernobyl Radiation: "NBC wanted to make sure we were scared of radioactive boars roaming the German countryside, since there isn’t enough real scary things going on in the world this week."
A Japanese Toy Train Floats on a Track Through Quantum Levitation. "The effect occurs when a superconductor expels a magnetic field, accomplished in this scenario by the cooling brought on by liquid nitrogen."
You Can Finally Send Secret Messages Inside Pictures of Kim Kardashian. "An art and computer science student at Carnegie Mellon named Maddy Varner has cracked the code of making codes: smuggle your secret messages across the web by hiding them in pictures of Kim Kardashian."
Astronomers have discovered evidence of a planet forming around a star about 335 light years from Earth.
Scientists test whether stone-tipped spears were really more killer by shooting them into ballistic gelatin.
Space Cat HOB, An Animated Short Film About a Feline Warrior's Arrival on a Dangerous New Planet.
Superman and The Flash Challenge Each Other to a Footrace to Find Out Who Is the Fastest DC Superhero.
The Long Shadow of Fungal Networks in Hyphae Pendant Lamps from the Folks at Nervous System. "No two lamps are the same; they simply let their formulas do the designing and then print up the results. The resulting lamps cast eerie networks of shadows, reminding us of the lurking fungal networks that live largely out of sight and are only noticed when they bloom as mushrooms."
Where are you, Dr. Frank Baxter? "In the 1950s and early 1960s, AT&T and the Bell Telephone System produced nine films about science, which were broadcast on prime-time network television and attracted a substantial audience."
Lava flow regimes range from extremely viscous creeping flows all the way to moderately turbulent channel flow.
The Crackpot Conundrum. "This is the main problem with labels like crackpot. It presupposes it is obvious who is pushing nonsense as science."
This is how you pull "Nature's bungee cord" (a.k.a. silk) from a spider.
Have you fallen for the Guru Effect? It's the tendency for people to "judge profound what they have failed to grasp."
Space Station to Host First Female Cosmonaut: Elena Serova.
Cool Infographic of the Week: A Shift in Nuclear Powers details the past and future of the world's nuclear reactors. "Early nuclear adopters like France and Germany are curtailing their programs, even though analysts... say nuclear is necessary to keep worldwide carbon emissions in check. Emerging economies may take up the mantle: Planned reactors in China and Russia could keep the world’s inventory stable."
U.S. Science Suffering From Booms And Busts In Funding. "Nationwide, about 16 percent of scientists with sustaining (known as ‘R01′) grants in 2012 lost them the following year, according to an NPR analysis. That left about 3,500 scientists nationwide scrambling to find money to keep their labs alive.”
A TED Talk by Philosopher Jim Holt That Attempts to Explain Why the Universe Exists.
The physics of — and a recipe for making — Murphy’s toast.
An Harmonic Analyzer, 1916: "The name does feel as though it touches the boundaries of most of the mouth, and that is basically what this analog computer does, analyzes sound, and record it in lovely waves."
An Animated Short Breaking Down the Mechanics of Impact During a Bicycle Crash. "Although no two crashes are identical, two main types of force—linear and rotational—are related to the majority of brain injuries. Most real-world impacts actually subject your brain to a combination of both linear and rotational forces."