National Ignition Facility (NIF) achieves fusion break-even "...The latest achievement has been described as the single most meaningful step for fusion in recent years, and demonstrates NIF is well on its way towards the coveted target of ignition and self-sustaining fusion."
When a liquid is dropped onto a smooth plate that is heated to a specific temperature well above its boiling point, boiled vapor will get trapped underneath the remainder of the droplet insulating it from the hot plate, allowing it to dance around the plate like oil on a wet surface in what is known as the Leidenfrost effect. Intriguingly, surfaces that are grooved into the shape of a saw blade will cause droplets suspended by the Leidenfrost effect to predictably skitter in the direction of the groove, allowing University of Bath undergraduate students Carmen Cheng and Matthew Guy to build a fascinating maze. [more inside]
Untold Riches: An Analysis Of Portal’s Level Design, from RPS, who have been looking at level design in their Level With Me series of interviews. Meanwhile Valve will be announcing something Monday morning - probably not Half Life 3.
Revelations in the field of quantum physics have resulted in the discovery of the Amplituhedron, a jewel-like higher dimensional object whose volume elegantly predicts fundamental physical processes that took the brilliant Dr. Richard Feynman hundreds of pages of abstruse mathematics to describe. The theoretical manifold not only enables simple pen-and-paper calculation of physics that would normally require supercomputers to work out, but also challenges basic assumptions about the nature of reality -- forgoing the core concepts of locality and unitarity and suggesting that space and time are merely emergent properties of a timeless, infinitely-sided "master amplituhedron," whose geometry represents the sum total of all physical interactions. More: The 152-page source paper on arXiv [PDF] - Lead author Nima Arkani-Hamed's hour-long lecture at SUSY 2013 - Scans of Arkani-Hamed's handwritten lecture notes - A far more detailed lecture series "Scattering Without Space Time": one, two, three - Arkani-Hamed previously on MeFi - A hot-off-the-presses Wikipedia page (watch this space)
Nature covers a brane based theory of cosmological creation... Is the universe a 3D brane created from a 4D star collapsing into a black hole? [more inside]
Caltech and The Feynman Lectures Website are pleased to present this online edition of The Feynman Lectures on Physics. Now, anyone with internet access and a web browser can enjoy reading a high-quality up-to-date copy of Feynman's legendary lectures.
Covariance is a particle detector-inspired art installation in the London Canal Museum's ice wells. It is part of the Superposition: physicists and artists in conversation project.
Physicist Art Hobson disentangles 'Schrodinger's cat' debate. The solution is within the framework of standard quantum physics. 'In an article published August 8 by Physical Review A, a journal of the American Physical Society, Hobson argues that the phenomenon known as "nonlocality" is key to understanding the measurement problem illustrated by "Schrodinger's cat."'
Why particle physics matters [no pun intended]. Physicists from around the world talk about why we study the nature of the universe. [via] [more inside]
A Black Hole Mystery Wrapped in a Firewall Paradox - "A paradox around matter leaking from black holes puts into question various scientific axioms: Either information can be lost; Einstein's principle of equivalence is wrong; or quantum field theory needs fixing." [more inside]
Paperscape is a searchable 2-dimensional visualization of the 800,000+ scientific papers (mostly in physics and math) on the arXiv preprint server.
While perhaps not quite as errm climactic as yesterday's news of pitch dripping in Trinity College, physics news dripping out of Stockholm reveals that
The Super Kamiokande T2K group has verified with great certainty that neutrinos oscillate among 3 flavors in flight (which could help explain what happened to the antimatter in the universe), and CERN has used the LHC to measure the decay time of the rare B sub s meson, ending a 25-year search.
Neil Degrasse Tyson waxes eloquent about Isaac Newton [chopped YouTube link, full length video 'SciCafe: Life the Universe and Everything' here] [more inside]
By making a very precise measurement of the muon g-2 value and comparing the results to its predicted value, researchers at Fermilab hope to uncover evidence of new, undiscovered particles and forces. This continues work done at Brookhaven National Laboratory a decade ago. To do so, Fermilab needs their 50-ft ring magnet and its fragile, precisely assembled superconducting coils. After six months of planning, the magnet was slowly hauled on an eight-axle trailer through the streets of Long Island, loaded onto a barge, and tugged down the Atlantic coast and into the Gulf of Mexico, where it will go up the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway to the Mississippi and then through Illinois waterways before it's trucked again through suburban Chicago. Fermilab has a photo and video gallery and is posting updates. [more inside]
Avogadro Project - The International Avogadro project relates the kilogram to the mass of a fixed number of atoms by measuring the number of atoms in a sphere of silicon. I'll leave this here.
Decades of confounding experiments have physicists considering a startling possibility: The universe might not make sense. For you Saturday night science read, a very interesting science article, one of many on the Simons Foundation web site
Eric Weinstein has a PhD in mathematical physics from Harvard, but has spent most of the last 10 years outside academia working as an economic consultant for a New York hedge fund. Now he apparently has a new theory of everything that claims to be able to explain quantum gravity, dark matter and dark energy. Actual details have not yet been provided and some physicists are dismissive. But his work has received enthusiastic endorsement from Oxford's Simonyi Professor of Public Understanding Marcus du Sautoy, with whom he has been discussing the theory over the last two years. [more inside]
Now, a technological advance has made it possible for physicists to test the idea. They plan to build a time crystal, not in the hope that this perpetuum mobile will generate an endless supply of energy (as inventors have striven in vain to do for more than a thousand years) but that it will yield a better theory of time itself.Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek's "somewhat embarassing" idea will be put to the test as scientists try to build time crystals.
This is a talk I gave on June 1, 2012, about the numerous crank physics letters and books that had been sent to, and saved by, the Physics Department at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA.
Don't believe the apparent video length, the talk is 41 minutes long and the camera sticks around for about 20 minutes of the awesome Q&A afterwards.[more inside]
Last fall, the Canadian Space Agency asked students to design a simple science experiment that could be performed in space, using items already available aboard the International Space Station. Today, Commander Chris Hadfield conducted the winner for its designers: two tenth grade students, Kendra Lemke and Meredith Faulkner, in a live feed to their school in Fall River, Nova Scotia. And now, we finally have an answer to the age-old question, What Happens When You Wring Out A Washcloth In Space? [more inside]
"...here we attempt to explain the apparently erratic seasonal changes in the world of [Georege R.R. Martin]. A natural explanation for such phenomena is the unique behavior of a circumbinary planet."
The concept of nothing is as old as zero itself. How do we grapple with the concept of nothing? From the best laboratory vacuums on Earth to the vacuum of space to what lies beyond, the idea of nothing continues to intrigue professionals and the public alike. Join moderator and Hayden Planetarium Director Neil deGrasse Tyson as he leads a spirited discussion with a group of physicists, philosophers and journalists about the existence of nothing. The event, which was streamed live to the web, took place at the American Museum of Natural History on March 20, 2013. [more inside]
Ron Garret, formerly of JPL and Google and "the most referenced computer science researcher in all of NASA", has an interesting take on quantum mechanics he dubs "zero-worlds", which he presents in an hour-long Google Tech Talk (meat starts around 42 minutes) as well as slightly older paper. He also got into a bit of further debate here. [more inside]
"I'm confident that it's a Higgs particle. I don't need to call it Higgs-like any more...I may need to eat my words one day, but I think that's very unlikely.""Cern scientists believe newly discovered particle is the real Higgs boson. Results of analysis at Cern in Switzerland show particle behaves precisely as expected." Previously
Every film Pixar has produced has landed in the top fifty highest-grossing animated films of all time. What's their secret? Mathematics. Oh, and 22 Rules of Storytelling. [more inside]
A world-renowned physicist meets a gorgeous model online. They plan their perfect life together. But first, she asks, would he be so kind as to deliver a special package to her?
Surely you've heard of the physicist Maxwell, but what about Oliver Heaviside? Oliver Heaviside: A first-rate oddity.
Moshers, Heavy Metal and Emergent Behaviour: The collective behaviour of moshers at heavy metal concerts is mathematically similar to a disordered 2D gas, say physicists. [more inside]
Henry Reich of Minute Physics shares his favorite science blogs, video channels, and other resources on the web. (Minute Physics previously) [more inside]
The Timeline of the Far Future is a Wikipedia article which serves as a gateway to a ton of fascinating scientific topics on the far edge of human understanding: ~50,000 years from now the Earth will enter a new Glacial period; ~100,000 years from now the Earth will likely have experienced a supervolcanic eruption; ~10,000,000 years from now the East African Rift divides the continent of Africa in to two land masses; ~20,000,000,000 years from now the Universe effectively dies due to The Big Rip.
Quantum gas goes below absolute zero. "It may sound less likely than hell freezing over, but physicists have created an atomic gas with a sub-absolute-zero temperature for the first time. Their technique opens the door to generating negative-Kelvin materials and new quantum devices, and it could even help to solve a cosmological mystery."
Decay is a free, downloadable zombie film set entirely at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. [more inside]
Is Science Fiction promoting pseuodoscience? Is it not really better than fantasy? Is it exhausted and dying, per Paul Kincaid (part 1, part 2), a sort of genre-writing version of completing a list of The Nine Billion Names of God? Does physics-bothering unrepentant space case Alistair Reynolds have a compass pointing the way forwards?
Richard Feynman delivers a charming talk about Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Electrodynamics and the versatile, enigmatic photon. (SLYT - 1:17:58)
The Nature of Computation - Intellects Vast and Warm and Sympathetic: "I hand you a network or graph, and ask whether there is a path through the network that crosses each edge exactly once, returning to its starting point. (That is, I ask whether there is a 'Eulerian' cycle.) Then I hand you another network, and ask whether there is a path which visits each node exactly once. (That is, I ask whether there is a 'Hamiltonian' cycle.) How hard is it to answer me?" (via) [more inside]
Dear Mr. President: “You're the President of the United States: a country with 5000 nuclear weapons, birthplace of the world's computing and telecommunications industry, home of the first atomic clock and creator of the global positioning system. But chances are, if you just took regular American high school physics, you don't know one iota about the science behind these things (no offense). That's because high school physics students across most of America are not required to learn about pretty much any physical phenomena discovered or explained more recently than 1865.” From Henry Reich of Minute Physics. (Can't watch video? Click the "interactive transcript" button under the video to read it instead.) Minute Physics previously, previouslier. [more inside]
A Slower Speed of Light is a first-person game prototype, built by the MIT Game Lab, that emulates the visual effects of special relativity.
Trees are Freaking Awesome! (SLYT)