Chances are our US readers are still in recovery from Thursday's feasting. Fortunately Jen-Luc Piquant has compiled lots of interesting links for your weekend reading pleasure while you recuperate. First up: it's time for the annual debunking ritual. No, the amino acid known as tryptophan in turkey doesn't make you sleepy: these are the real causes of those Thanksgiving "sleepies." How Much Turkey Would You Need to Eat to Get Knocked Out by Tryptophan Alone? Oh, and here's a guy who Tripped on Tryptophan (Or Tried to, Anyway).
Anatomy of a Food Coma, plus a handy Thanksgiving Explainer on the Chemistry of What Goes on in Our Stomachs After Eating Too Much, and a listing of various aspects of Turkey Science For Your Thanksgiving Feast. Also: The science of making the perfect sauce for your Thanksgiving dinner. Bonus: How to Win at Wishbone. "The wishbone-breaking game has been around since the days of Plymouth Rock."
ISS Astronauts Celebrated a 'Traditional' Thanksgiving: "what’s on the menu for these hard-working astronauts? Irradiated smoked turkey, thermostabilized candied yams, freeze-dried green beans and mushrooms, NASA’s own freeze-dried cornbread dressing and thermostabilized cherry-blueberry cobbler for dessert." Perhaps you channeled your inner math nerd and celebrated a mathematical Thanksgiving with pumpkin pi pie, or pondered the Game Theory of Thanksgiving. Or perhaps you'd like to calculate just how many hours you need to exercise to burn off all that delicious indulgence. "The average American takes in 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving: That is a lot of turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, creamed onions, candied yams and pumpkin pie -- actually, about seven Big Macs' worth of calories." Cycling for 15 hours should do it
Benjamin Franklin Once Electrocuted Some Turkeys For Science: As he wrote to botanist Peter Collinson in a letter dated 1749, "A Turky is to be killed for our Dinners by the Electrical Shock; and roasted by the electrical Jack, before a Fire kindled by the Electrified Bottle . . . ."
Here are Nine Wild Inventions That Modernized Thanksgiving: These patents covered every step for perfectly prepared holiday meal. Today, all you need to carve the turkey is an electric knife. In the 1600s, you needed a serious education. Bonus: here is James Beard's Carving Manifesto from the 1948 issue of Gourmet magazine. Also: check out the Science And Engineering Of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloons. Related: Should we be wasting our dwindling supply of helium on floating cartoon characters?
By far Jen-Luc's favorite thing this Thanksgiving is a photographic series on How 10 Famous Artists Would Plate Thanksgiving Dinner. Per Colossal: "San Francisco-based artist Hannah Rothstein imagines Thanksgiving dinners as plated by famous artists throughout history. Gravy, corn, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce, and even the plate itself is used as a medium for edible artworks in the style of Jackson Pollock, Cindy Sherman, Georges Seurat, and Vincent van Gogh."
In his annual Thanksgiving blog post, Sean Carroll gave thanks for the Fourier transform. "Fourier transforms are just a fancy version of changes of coordinates. The difference is that, instead of coordinates on a two-dimensional space, we’re talking about coordinates on an infinite-dimensional space: the space of all functions."
Hummingbirds Hover Like Insects: "Biologists from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill teamed up with mechanical engineers from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee to simulate the aerodynamics of a hummingbird in flight. They found that the bird’s movement more closely resembles insects than other kinds of birds."
Physicists Use a Leaky Faucet to Find Chaos in Music. "This is what the mathematics of music demonstrate: Both the melodies and rhythms of a composition obey power laws, relationships that give us the probability of this or that pattern occurring with respect to the previous event. If I play a “c,” how far away (and how unrelated) might we expect the next note to be?"
Star Wars Film Series Reexamined Through the Lens of Complex Ring Theory Mathematics, an algebraic study often applied to complex works of art. "The “intertextual patternings,” while critical to reading the films the way Lucas intended, are actually small pieces of a much larger, more complex puzzle."
Solving the Riddles of an Early Astronomical Calculator, the Antikythera Mechanism.
Particles, waves and drunken sailors: Animals looking for food or light waves moving through turbid media show astonishing similarities in mathematical models, despite seeming like completely different phenomena.
Mathematical Time Law Governs Crowd Flow: Pedestrians avoid bumping into each other by anticipating when their paths would collide.
Atomic Anxiety and the Tooth Fairy: Citizen Science in the Midcentury Midwest. How the St. Louis Baby Tooth Study reconciled the domestic ritual of childhood tooth loss with the geopolitics of nuclear annihilation.
Game Over, Man. Physics Students' Scientific Paper scrutinizing planetary stability in the game world Concludes Super Mario Galaxy's Planets Would Actually Explode. Next they'll say it's impossible to change trajectories mid-jump or something.
Scientists do glass a solid with new theory on how it transitions from a liquid.
Art (and Science) in a Whiskey Glass, Neatly Explained. "Ernie Button, a photographer in Phoenix, found art at the bottom of a whiskey glass. Howard A. Stone, a mechanical and aerospace engineering professor at Princeton, found the science in the art."
Kittehs Can Haz Science? The 11 Most Important Cats Of Science, including the infamous Spy Cats. "In the 1960s, the CIA launched Operation Acoustic Kitty. The plan was to train cats—yes, cats—to eavesdrop on Russian conversations."
Scientists believe there is an ocean hidden beneath the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa. NASA-JPL astrobiologist Kevin Hand explains why scientists are so excited about the potential of this ice-covered world to answer one of humanity's most profound questions.
The Large Hadron Collider's 'Heart' Starts Pumping Protons Ahead of 2015 Restart. Related: Sizing Up a New Particle Accelerator and the "Cosmic Stupid" Limit. Even if you assume you have the technology and the money to do it, how big should any successor to CERN’s Large Hadron Collider be? Physicists are trying to work it out.
Students will help the MoEDAL experiment at CERN seek evidence of magnetic monopoles, microscopic black holes and other exotic new physics. Related: New project asks citizen scientists for help finding unknown Higgs boson decays in LHC data from ATLAS experiment.
How the LHC Makes Interstellar Physics Real. Related: Meet the astrophysicist Kip Thorne of Caltech, whose 1980 blind date with Hollywood producer Linda Obst ultimately led to Interstellar. Als0: Parsing the Science of Interstellar with Physicist Kip Thorne, and even more nerd-gassing about the science in the film, in which an astrophysicist ranks parts of Interstellar, from the totally plausible to the “you’d definitely need aliens for that.” Jen-Luc Piquant hopes we can give this all a rest already, soon. It's not just physics geeks, either: The trailer just came out, but People Are Already Mad at Jurassic World's Inaccurate Science -- something about dinosaurs with opposable thumbs and inaccurate depiction of insects.
Physics at the Universe’s Limits: How new developments in measuring the highest-energy particles and earliest signals from the Universe are teaching us what all this is.
Wall Crawling With More Accuracy: Van Der Waals Force Re-Measured.
Why Physics Needs Humor. "Since the early days of modern physics, physicists have been escaping their own seriousness with jokes, songs, and skits more reminiscent of summer camp than of the laboratory."
Delight to the cosmic stylings of The Beatles' "Across The Universe" Recreated With Sounds From Comet 67P. Related: What's Next for the Rosetta Mission and Comet Exploration.
J'adore this Tesla Portrait Made from Sparks of Electricity by artist Phil Hansen
How To Make Extra-Efficient Solar Panels Using Old Blu-Ray Discs: the pretty color makes them more efficient at catching light.
Physicists and Philosophers Unite to Study Time’s Arrow (sub req'd). “To tell you the truth, I think most of my colleagues are terrified of talking to philosophers—like being caught coming out of a pornographic cinema,” says physicist Max Tegmark of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Bell's inequality 50 years later. "To Einstein, quantum entanglement was unsettling, indicating that something is missing from our understanding of the quantum world. Bell proposed thinking about quantum entanglement in a different way, not just as something weird and counter-intuitive, but as a resource that might be employed to perform useful tasks."
Turing Test Alternative Proposed By Georgia Tech's Mark Riedl. “For the test, the artificial agent passes if it develops a creative artifact from a subset of artistic genres deemed to require human-level intelligence and the artifact meets certain creative constraints given by a human evaluator.”
Lagrange, Laplace, and Legendre: How do you distinguish 18th-century French mathematicians with surnames beginning with an “L”?
There was A Special Issue on Relativity in Nature, in 1921.
'Bed of nails' surface won’t get wet. Intricately etched glass and metal surfaces shrug off even the wettest liquids. …
The Quest for a Reaction-less Space Drive. For many decades, a fantasy among space enthusiasts has been to invent a device that produces a net thrust in one direction, without any need for reaction mass. Of course, a reactionless space drive of this type is impossible. Or is it?
Astronaut Reid Wiseman demonstrates the interplay of forces involved in coalescence in microgravity.
A Love Letter to the Original Algorithm. "First discovered, or at least written down, by the Greek mathematician Euclid circa 300 BC, the algorithm describes a method of super-efficiently finding the greatest common divisor of two numbers. That is, what is the largest number that divides two other numbers evenly? It’s not flashy, but the Euclidean algorithm is the bedrock of number theory—and the theorems found within number theory are the bedrock of high-speed calculation and computation. First arithmetic, then the information age."
"A Song About Pi," written by Irving Kaplansky and Enid Rieser and performed by Lucy Kaplansky. "Lucy's father, noted mathematician Irving Kaplansky, was a professor at Harvard, where Tom Lehrer was his student."
Chillin' With The Coldest Matter In The World. "Physicists have developed a new cooling technique for mechanical quantum systems by using an ultracold atomic gas, cooling a membrane down to less than 1 degree above absolute zero."
Light is now printable-- seriously. Rohinni's Lightpaper is a way to print lighting and apply it to nearly any surface, in any shape, and for any situation.
Square Kilometer Array: Monster telescope needs mind-bending mathematics to uncover secrets of the universe.
Dark Matter and the Origin of Life: How material we’d never notice if we kept our eyes on Earth alone helped give rise to all that we are.
The Birth of Space and Time: If there’s something before the Big Bang, then what does that mean for the beginning of our Universe?
A Quick Spin Around the Big Dipper. See how the night sky would appear from a different part of the galaxy.
Savas Dimopoulos proposes bringing small-scale searches for new physics under a single roof. Is that a good idea?
How Inverse Problems Open the Unknowable to Science: "knowing the unknowable, solving the impossible with help from guesstimates."
The Two Faces of J.E. Brandenburg. "“Artifacts”? “Archeological objects”? What “artifacts”? He’s talking about the Face on Mars. Seriously, it’s 2014, and a physicist is still accepting that bit of pareidolia. There’s no more talk of natural reactors. Instead, he’s claiming the Face on Mars was targeted by an alien galactic civilization for nuking."
LIGHT is TIME: Walk Through an Installation of 65,000 Shimmering Watch Base Plates. Per Spoon and Tamago: "The design team at Japanese watch-maker CITIZEN and Paris-based architect Tsuyoshi Tane have collaborated on a magical installation transforming a seemingly ordinary object into what looks like shimmering droplets of suspended rain. What makes the installation tick is 65,000 base plates, the basic component of a watch, which are suspended from the ceiling."
Psychedelic Paint and Poured Resin Artworks by Bruce Riley.
Landfill Harmonic: Coaxing music from trash, the children of the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura refuse to be defined by poverty.
Love this math-centric Tumblr: Mr. Gelston's One-Room Schoolhouse. "If you don’t trust math and other people’s reasoning then you are already a born mathematician."
A Solar-Powered Kinetic Sculpture of a Bird That Flaps Its Wings Gracefully.
SciShow Explains the Differences Between ‘Zero G’ and ‘Zero Gravity.’
Why Is the Sky Blue? It's Packed With Sexy Energy, of Course. "In the strange and colorful history of pseudoscience, Wilhelm Reich’s “discovery” of orgone—a substance that’s not only a life force, but indeed makes up the very fabric of space—must surely be a watershed. This is a story of a man who went from psychoanalysis wunderkind to enemy of Hitler to enemy of the US government, only to die a lonely death in prison. Yet somehow, almost a century later, his bonkers ideas live on."
Ethereal Frost Flowers Form Under Special Weather Conditions in the Ozarks. The secret, as I explained in a 2012 blog post, is hot capillary action.
The Breakthrough Prize tried to make mathematicians rock stars. It didn’t quite work.
The Fabulously Thorough Instructional on Using a Telephone, 1946, comes with "a two-part heavy paper telephone receiver for the reader's practice."
How Alan Turing Played Dumb to Fool US Intelligence. "One of the few who knew that Bletchley had cracked Enigma was Ian Fleming – working in naval intelligence – but the Americans were kept in the dark." Related: How Does Benedict Cumberbatch (as Turing) Break the Enigma code and help end WWII in The Imitation Game?
Visualizing Air Flow Using Schlieren Optics: "allows us to see small changes in the index of refraction in air. A point source of light is reflected from a concave mirror and focused onto the edge of a razor blade, which is mounted in front of the camera. Light refracted near the mirror and intercepted by the blade gives the illusion of a shadow."