599 posts tagged with Physics.
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Spin theory

Twirl an upside-down soda glass and toss it down a tabletop (somewhat like the hero in the video game Tapper), and the glass will pull off in a direction opposite of the spin. Spin a granite curling stone and throw it down the ice, however, and it will travel in the same direction as the spin. Video blog SmarterEveryDay looks at physics theories that try to figure out why this counterintuitive result happens.
posted by a lungful of dragon on Mar 29, 2015 - 7 comments

I was stumped. So of course, I asked Facebook.

"Let's talk about matter/anti-matter annihilation in the early Universe."
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Mar 29, 2015 - 34 comments

I'm only happy when it...

Rainworks are positive messages and art that only appear when it rains. Peregrine Church watched a video showing off the properties of superhydrophobic coatings and got an idea uniquely suited to his environment: famously rainy Seattle.* Using a spray-on coating, he did a stencil at a bus stop. It's invisible in dry weather, but as rain hits it and the wet concrete darkens, the writing and art becomes clear. Since then, more have been added: tentacles, hopscotch grids, environmental messages, lily pads, and more. [more inside]
posted by wintersweet on Mar 21, 2015 - 35 comments

Creating breasts that look and move naturally in games

How Video Game Breasts Are Made (And Why They Can Go Wrong.) NSFW. (Via.) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 11, 2015 - 91 comments

First-ever snapshot of the dual nature of light

Scientists at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne have captured "The first ever photograph of light as both a particle and wave" (images of the photo and the microscope in right hand column) using "EPFL’s ultrafast energy-filtered transmission electron microscope – one of the two in the world." The EPFL's explanatory video: Two-in-one photography: Light as wave and particle. Reference: Simultaneous observation of the quantization and the interference pattern of a plasmonic near-field. Nature Communications.
posted by cwest on Mar 2, 2015 - 23 comments

Particle pioneer Val Fitch dies at 91

Physics World has reported that "US physicist Val Fitch, who shared the 1980 Nobel Prize for Physics with James Cronin, died on 5 February at the age of 91. Fitch and Cronin were awarded the prize for the discovery in 1964 that subatomic particles called K-mesons violate a fundamental law in physics known as CP symmetry, allowing physicists to make an absolute distinction between matter and antimatter." Fitch's passing was noted in Princeton University News, and an extended obituary appeared in the Washington Post.
posted by Sir Rinse on Feb 11, 2015 - 6 comments

Riding Light

Follow the realtime path of a photon leaving the surface of our Sun
posted by a lungful of dragon on Feb 4, 2015 - 26 comments

Stephen Hawking is not part of the solution, he is part of the problem.

The equations on the blackboard may be the problem. Mathematics, the language of science, may have misled the scientists. “The idea,” says physicist Lee Smolin, “that the truth about nature can be wrestled from pure thought through mathematics is overdone… The idea that mathematics is prophetic and that mathematical structure and beauty are a clue to how nature ultimately works is just wrong.” [more inside]
posted by leotrotsky on Jan 19, 2015 - 88 comments

How to knock over a 100 pound domino using a teeny tiny domino

If you had to knock over a 100 pound domino with a domino that is 5mm high and 1mm thick (and weighs a few ounces), how would you do it? Give it some thought, perhaps discuss it over a beer, and then enjoy an interesting physics demonstration here.
posted by SpacemanStix on Dec 22, 2014 - 57 comments

Pilot-wave theory “seems to me so natural and simple..."

This idea that nature is inherently probabilistic — that particles have no hard properties, only likelihoods, until they are observed — is directly implied by the standard equations of quantum mechanics. But now a set of surprising experiments with fluids has revived old skepticism about that worldview. The bizarre results are fueling interest in an almost forgotten version of quantum mechanics, one that never gave up the idea of a single, concrete reality.

The experiments involve an oil droplet that bounces along the surface of a liquid. The droplet gently sloshes the liquid with every bounce. At the same time, ripples from past bounces affect its course. The droplet’s interaction with its own ripples, which form what’s known as a pilot wave, causes it to exhibit behaviors previously thought to be peculiar to elementary particles — including behaviors seen as evidence that these particles are spread through space like waves, without any specific location, until they are measured.

Particles at the quantum scale seem to do things that human-scale objects do not do. They can tunnel through barriers, spontaneously arise or annihilate, and occupy discrete energy levels. This new body of research reveals that oil droplets, when guided by pilot waves, also exhibit these quantum-like features.

posted by Elementary Penguin on Dec 14, 2014 - 103 comments

Did it just knock the bullet off course?

Detcord burns extremely quickly. One of the finest applications of high speed photography I've ever seen. Merry Christmas! [more inside]
posted by butterstick on Dec 6, 2014 - 23 comments

Top 10 Martin Gardner Physics Stumpers

The list to follow is offered purely in a spirit of fun and education, and is not intended to be definitive. It concerns only the most basic physics concepts, and nothing electronic. No answers are offered. [more inside]
posted by jenkinsEar on Nov 27, 2014 - 73 comments

Pathetic vestigial organ or integral part of fearsome predator?

In this paper, we examine a first-year torque and angular acceleration problem to address a possible use of the forelimbs of Tyrannosaurus rex. A 1/40th-scale model is brought to the classroom to introduce the students to the quandary: given that the forelimbs of T. rex were too short to reach its mouth, what function did the forelimbs serve? This issue crosses several scientific disciplines including paleontology, ecology, and physics, making it a great starting point for thinking “outside the box..." Lipkin and Carpenter have suggested that the forelimbs were used to hold a struggling victim (which had not been dispatched with the first bite) while the final, lethal bite was applied. If that is the case, then the forelimbs must be capable of large angular accelerations α in order to grab the animal attempting to escape. The concepts of the typical first-year physics course are sufficient to test this hypothesis... Naturally, student love solving any problem related to Tyrannosaurus rex.
posted by ChuraChura on Nov 25, 2014 - 20 comments

The observer at the end of time: Of immortal watchers and imaginary data

In a Multiverse, What Are the Odds? "Testing the multiverse hypothesis requires measuring whether our universe is statistically typical among the infinite variety of universes. But infinity does a number on statistics." (previously) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Nov 9, 2014 - 47 comments

√2N

At the Far Ends of a New Universal Law
The law appeared in full form two decades later, when the mathematicians Craig Tracy and Harold Widom proved that the critical point in the kind of model May used was the peak of a statistical distribution. Then, in 1999, Jinho Baik, Percy Deift and Kurt Johansson discovered that the same statistical distribution also describes variations in sequences of shuffled integers — a completely unrelated mathematical abstraction. Soon the distribution appeared in models of the wriggling perimeter of a bacterial colony and other kinds of random growth. Before long, it was showing up all over physics and mathematics. “The big question was why,” said Satya Majumdar, a statistical physicist at the University of Paris-Sud. “Why does it pop up everywhere?”

posted by the man of twists and turns on Oct 28, 2014 - 17 comments

Make that fiftyone years

Any list like this will inevitably leave deserving people out, and probably this list is biased toward U.S.­–based physicists. It is not intended to be comprehensive or a “top 10 list,” or to be the last word on the topic, but rather to spark a discussion. And most importantly, it is intended to show that the 51-year streak of male physics laureates cannot be blamed on a lack of viable female candidates. So with that out of the way, let’s hope to soon see this tired streak broken by a third—and fourth and fifth—woman accepting the Nobel Prize in Physics.
The nobel Prize committee have decided to honour the inventors of the blue light LED with the 2014 Nobel Prize in physics, extending the half a century streak of only having male winners with another year. Yet as Gabriel Popkin's list of worthy female Nobel Prize candidates shows, there's no lack of female contenders.
posted by MartinWisse on Oct 8, 2014 - 48 comments

Of course, everyone knows about levers...

Elementary Mechanics from a Mathematician's Viewpoint [direct link to large PDF] by Michael Spivak - notes from his eight 2004 lectures (which eventually became a book). See the quote inside to get the flavor of it. [more inside]
posted by Wolfdog on Oct 4, 2014 - 24 comments

On the (Anti-) Matter of Planet Destruction

So you want to make a Death Star? You want to destroy a planet like Alderan? There are several theories. But the latest hinges on a simple matter of "neutral antimatter."
posted by cross_impact on Sep 19, 2014 - 32 comments

#WomenTweetScienceToo

This is Science Magazine; this is one of their featured front-page stories (date stamped 17 September 2014 8:00 am): "The top 50 science stars of Twitter", by Jia You. The list has 46 men and 4 women. [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Sep 18, 2014 - 23 comments

TL;DW - Biology first, THEN physics.

Why are Stars Star-Shaped? A SLYT of one of the innumerable little educational youtube channels explaining something that always fascinated me. [more inside]
posted by DigDoug on Aug 27, 2014 - 16 comments

All three volumes of The Feynman Lectures on Physics are now online.

The Feynman Lectures on Physics All three volumes of The Feynman Lectures on Physics are now online. A fantastic resource for anyone interested in Feynman or physics in general. (Previously, when the first volume was available.)
posted by citizenoftheworld on Aug 25, 2014 - 24 comments

there's nothing that is scientifically proven

(A theoretical physicist explains why) Science Is Not About Certainty [more inside]
posted by flex on Aug 5, 2014 - 33 comments

How much more black could this be? The answer is none. None more black.

One step closer to the Disaster Area stuntship. "It's so...black!" said Ford Prefect, "you can hardly make out its shape...light just seems to fall into it!"
posted by paleyellowwithorange on Jul 17, 2014 - 78 comments

21st Century Wiener

Norbert Wiener: The Eccentric Genius Whose Time May Have Finally Come (Again) - "The most direct reason for Wiener's fall to relative obscurity was the breakthrough of a young mathematician and engineer named Claude Shannon." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jul 11, 2014 - 12 comments

I'm leaving my body to science, not medical but physics

Let's Talk About Science is a blog devoted to discussing the world of science and technology communication with clear, beginner-friendly language, written and compiled by nanoscientist/physicist Jessamyn Fairfield and science educator ErinDubitably. [more inside]
posted by divined by radio on Jul 3, 2014 - 4 comments

Time : a flat circle :: Consciousness : a state of matter?

"While the problem of consciousness is far from being solved, it is finally being formulated mathematically as a set of problems that researchers can understand, explore and discuss.

Today, Max Tegmark, a theoretical physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, sets out the fundamental problems that this new way of thinking raises. He shows how these problems can be formulated in terms of quantum mechanics and information theory. And he explains how thinking about consciousness in this way leads to precise questions about the nature of reality that the scientific process of experiment might help to tease apart.

Tegmark’s approach is to think of consciousness as a state of matter, like a solid, a liquid or a gas. 'I conjecture that consciousness can be understood as yet another state of matter. Just as there are many types of liquids, there are many types of consciousness,' he says."
posted by Strange Interlude on Jun 12, 2014 - 235 comments

Project Mogul

You may have heard how sounds travel farther during a temperature inversion, when air near the ground is cooler than the air above. But do you know how this phenomenon is related to the 1947 UFO crash in Roswell, New Mexico? [more inside]
posted by mbrubeck on Jun 8, 2014 - 14 comments

Einstein reportedly bitter about not getting spooky action at a distance

Researchers at the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands have developed a technique for quantum data teleportation that uses deterministic methods to offer one hundred percent accuracy. Previous methods only worked reliably one in every 100 million attempts. [more inside]
posted by saulgoodman on May 30, 2014 - 87 comments

All in a day's work (tendril version)

Why yes, a video about cucumber tendrils can be fascinating!
posted by mudpuppie on May 13, 2014 - 9 comments

Researchers have discovered a new shape

Researchers have discovered a shape previously unknown...to everyone except every single grade 4 kid who has played with rubber bands.
posted by odinsdream on Apr 24, 2014 - 43 comments

"You can measure your life in a number of drops."

World's longest-running experiment captures elusive tar pitch drop fall on video after 84 years of waiting — though, sadly, too late for physicist and former pitch drop custodian Prof. John Mainstone, who passed away last year.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Apr 19, 2014 - 15 comments

Pyro Board

Pyro Board. Or flammable sound waves and music. Danish Fysikshow demonstrates a 2-D Rubens' tube (wiki, demo).
posted by severiina on Apr 18, 2014 - 15 comments

Ottomans not included

For those of you who prefer your science isolated with a side of moody furniture, I give you Lonely Chairs at CERN.
posted by Diagonalize on Apr 14, 2014 - 19 comments

Eppur si muove

The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown is a nine-part series posted by sci-fi author and statistician Michael F. Flynn to his blog last year, covering the historical conflict between heliocentrism and geocentrism, with a special focus on Galileo. They are based on an article (pdf) by Flynn which originally appeared in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Analog. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Apr 8, 2014 - 10 comments

Drop it like it's hot

How to melt an aluminum slug (action heats up around the 2' mark) with a DIY induction heater (obl. wiki).
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Apr 4, 2014 - 38 comments

Sir Roger Penrose: Cosmic Inflation Is ‘Fantasy'

(NPR Science Friday) Sir Roger Penrose calls string theory a "fashion," quantum mechanics "faith," and cosmic inflation a "fantasy." ... What's wrong with modern physics—and could alternative theories explain our observations of the universe? Full lectures: Fashion, Faith, and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe (Lecture 1: FASHION)(Lecture 2: FAITH.)(Lecture 3: FANTASY.) [more inside]
posted by Golden Eternity on Apr 4, 2014 - 48 comments

Online Physics Class Taught By Brian Greene

Brian Greene is now offering an online course on the theory of relativity. There are two versions of the class, one with math and one without. Additional information was provided during Greene's recent Ask Me Anything on reddit, during which he agrees with a redditor who recommends Leonard Susskind's "Theoretical Minimum"(previously) as a good preliminary.
posted by Ipsifendus on Mar 11, 2014 - 43 comments

Do not taunt Waboba Ball

The Waboba ("WAter BOuncing BAll"), has attracted all sorts of fans since it went into production over five years ago. Now it can count one more: The U.S. Navy.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI on Mar 10, 2014 - 13 comments

there is no soundtrack

Finite time blowup for an averaged three-dimensional Navier-Stokes equation - "[Terence Tao] has shown that in an alternative abstract universe closely related to the one described by the Navier-Stokes equations, it is possible for a body of fluid to form a sort of computer, which can build a self-replicating fluid robot that, like the Cat in the Hat, keeps transferring its energy to smaller and smaller copies of itself until the fluid 'blows up.' " [1,2,3] (previously)
posted by kliuless on Mar 9, 2014 - 15 comments

That’s why it doesn’t matter if God plays dice with the Universe

Discovering Free Will (Part II, Part III) - a nice discussion of the Conway-Kochen "Free Will Theorem". [more inside]
posted by Wolfdog on Mar 4, 2014 - 92 comments

John Baez on the maths of connecting everyone (and everything) on earth

Network Theory Overview - "The idea: nature and the world of human technology are full of networks! People like to draw diagrams of networks. Mathematical physicists know that in principle these diagrams can be understood using category theory. But why should physicists have all the fun? This is the century of understanding living systems and adapting to life on a finite planet. Math isn't the main thing we need, but it's got to be part of the solution... so one thing we should do is develop a unified and powerful theory of networks." (via ;)
posted by kliuless on Mar 2, 2014 - 17 comments

The Theoretical Minimum

How condensed might one expect an overview of all modern physics to be? Leonard Susskind has an answer, and provides The Theoretical Minimum. [more inside]
posted by Alex404 on Feb 27, 2014 - 13 comments

ITER

A Star in a Bottle. "An audacious plan to create a new energy source could save the planet from catastrophe. But time is running out."
posted by homunculus on Feb 25, 2014 - 52 comments

The perfect billiards break

What would happen if a cue ball struck a rack of 15 perfectly round, frictionless billiard balls, exactly head-on?
posted by escabeche on Feb 3, 2014 - 31 comments

Looking Deep Inside Nature

X-ray photography of plants and animals by physicist Arie van’t Riet. [via]
posted by brundlefly on Jan 27, 2014 - 5 comments

Everybody Talks About The Weather...

From I Fucking Love Science: "In a paper posted online this week Professor Stephen Hawking claimed that black holes do not exist - at least, not as we currently understand them. He claims that the traditional notion of a black hole's "event horizon" from which nothing can escape, even light, is incompatible with quantum physics. If so, physicists will have to redefine black holes entirely." [more inside]
posted by runcibleshaw on Jan 27, 2014 - 44 comments

The Chain Fountain

A video showing a chain of beads behaving in a very peculiar way appeared on Youtube some time ago. Many people attempted to provide explanations, but most of them weren't quite satisfactory. [more inside]
posted by tykky on Jan 17, 2014 - 30 comments

I Was Told There Would Be No Math

M.I.T. professor Max Tegmark explores the possibility that math does not just describe the universe, but makes the universe.
posted by COD on Jan 14, 2014 - 111 comments

Pterosaur Aerodynamics at GWU

A series of blog posts by George Washington University engineering students on the aerodynamics of pterosaur flight. [more inside]
posted by brundlefly on Jan 7, 2014 - 12 comments

See how the ants drip like syrup?

Physicists study fire ants (SLNYT)
posted by angrycat on Dec 28, 2013 - 14 comments

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