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Calculating the Madness of People

Unpopular Science: One man's unhappy encounters with the laws of physics.
posted by spiderskull on Oct 25, 2010 - 7 comments

 

from complexity, universality

A brief tour of the mysteriously universal laws of mathematics and nature. [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Oct 24, 2010 - 33 comments

The Future of Fundamental Physics

Renowned theoretical physicist Nima Arkani-Hamed gave a series of five Messenger lectures on "The Future of Fundamental Physics" at Cornell University two weeks ago. 1 3 4 5 [more inside]
posted by bread-eater on Oct 20, 2010 - 15 comments

(?:Ig)? Nobel Laureate

Andre Geim has earned many awards from his peers for groundbreaking research in physics, but he's arguably only won the attention of the general public a couple times: First for levitating a frog, and then for discovering 2D atomic crystals. For these efforts he has become the first person to be a laureate of both the Ig Nobel Prize and Nobel Prize.
posted by ardgedee on Oct 5, 2010 - 12 comments

What would happen if you put your hand in the Large Hadron Collider.

Several physicists weigh in on what would happen if you were to place your hand in the proton stream of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. There's not a definite answer...the responses range from "nothing" to "you'd die for sure, instantly". [more inside]
posted by albrecht on Oct 1, 2010 - 53 comments

Dance the microtubule tango

While working on a PhD, did you ever feel no one understood your research? Well instead of writing your dissertation about your topic, ““Microtubule Catastrophe in Living Cells” or “Hydrodynamic Trail Following in a Harbor Seal (Phoca vitulina)”, you can dance to it. Or, if you don’t want to dance to a science topic, then change your topic and publish research about zombies as a disease model. [more inside]
posted by Wolfster on Sep 29, 2010 - 3 comments

Hello

(over-simplified) Anatomy of a Typical Phone Conversation
posted by ocha-no-mizu on Sep 29, 2010 - 19 comments

danyk's Electromagnetic Shenanigans

(MLYT) Danyk666 and his microwave oven, danyk and his unshielded Source, danyk's little jacob's ladder, danyk heats water, zaps a CD, uses wrong AC power. Also hairspray high-volt abuse, his flyback transformer no workee (wait for it), carbon scoring on your droids? And danyk's small shaded-pole motor ...OF DEATH!!! [more inside]
posted by billb on Aug 25, 2010 - 35 comments

The Fate of the Universe

Fate of Universe revealed by galactic lens [spoiler alert] [more inside]
posted by Joe Beese on Aug 20, 2010 - 45 comments

Does the Past Still Exist?

Is our present defined by decisions we make in the future? And maybe we don't know who killed JFK because the universe hasn't decided yet. A Huffington Post science blogger discusses the nature of history from a quantum perspective. To quote Stephen Hawking, "The histories of the universe depend on what is being measured, contrary to the usual idea that the universe has an objective observer-independent history." [more inside]
posted by GnomeChompsky on Aug 20, 2010 - 95 comments

That Was the This Week's Finds That Was

The 300th issue of This Week's Finds in Mathematical Physics will be the last. It is not an exaggeration to say that when John Baez started publishing TWF in 1993, he invented the science blog, and an (academic) generation has now grown up reading his thoughts on higher category theory, zeta functions, quantum gravity, crazy pictures of roots of polynomials, science fiction, and everything else that can loosely be called either "mathematical" or "physics." Baez continues to blog actively at n-category cafe and the associated nLab (an intriguingly fermented commune of mathematicians, physicists, and philosophers.) He is now starting a new blog, Azimuth, "centered around the theme of what scientists can do to help save the planet."
posted by escabeche on Aug 14, 2010 - 17 comments

It's the end of space-time as we know it, and I feel fine.

Those wacky New Scientists are reporting on a "new challenge" to part of Einstein's theory of special relativity that changes the relationship of Space to Time. No, this has nothing to do with Conservapedia's laughable challenge to the theory*. Petr Hořava** won't replace Einstein*** in scientific importance in this new Century, but maybe Hendrik Lorentz whose theories on symmetry apparently take a beating****. Remember kiddies, Science (especially Physics) doesn't have Absolute Truths, it just keeps getting closer to them. And even ol' Albert E. can and WILL be improved upon. [more inside]
posted by oneswellfoop on Aug 10, 2010 - 37 comments

Position-based quantum cryptography theoretically proved

Our results open a fascinating new direction for position-based security in cryptography where security of protocols is solely based on the laws of physics and proofs of security do not require any pre-existing infrastructure.
posted by Joe Beese on Aug 8, 2010 - 47 comments

What the pangeaists don't want you to know

Don't continue fooling yourself. The earth is growing and expanding rapidly. Despite plate tectonics' popular acceptance in the 60s, Samuel Warren Carey, the father of modern expansion tectonics, was publicly promoting his theories of an expanded earth as late as 1981. One of the theory's most prominent modern spokesmen is comics artist Neal Adams, who has created a number of informative videos about a new model of the universe that even manages to explain why the dinosaurs died out. [more inside]
posted by Lorc on Aug 7, 2010 - 77 comments

If these pants could talk

Small amounts of sound can now be harvested by this special fabric to produce very small amounts of current. And what if there was a clever, logic-defying way to possibly greatly enhance the conversion capabilities of such piezoelectric materials? Then maybe I'll get that "Power Suit" I always wanted.
posted by cross_impact on Jul 22, 2010 - 18 comments

Shooting rabbits takes on a whole new meaning

A video of a bunch of CG physics demonstrations that can be interacted with in real time.
posted by cthuljew on Jul 20, 2010 - 32 comments

Gravity is Optional

Physicist Erik Verlinde proposed in a recent paper that the force of gravity can be derived from the principles of thermodynamics. NY Times explains. [Physicist Lee] Smolin called it, “very interesting and also very incomplete.”
posted by jjray on Jul 12, 2010 - 55 comments

Physics of Phootball

Free during the World Cup the IOP (Institute of Physics) has a collection of papers all about football (soccer). Also related is NASA's recent findings regarding the randomness of the new Adidas ball.
posted by ozomatli on Jul 6, 2010 - 8 comments

What the Earth knows

Experts are little help in the constant struggle in this conversation to separate myth from reality, because they have the same difficulty, and routinely demonstrate it by talking past each other. Respected scientists warn of imminent energy shortages as geologic fuel supplies run out. Wall Street executives dismiss their predictions as myths and call for more drilling. Environmentalists describe the destruction to the earth from burning coal, oil, and natural gas. Economists ignore them and describe the danger to the earth of failing to burn coal, oil, and natural gas. Geology researchers report fresh findings about what the earth was like millions of years ago. Creationist researchers report fresh findings that the earth didn’t exist millions of years ago. The only way not to get lost in this awful swamp is to review the basics and decide for yourself what you believe and what you don’t. [more inside]
posted by infinite intimation on Jun 27, 2010 - 31 comments

The Brooklyn Project

Inspired by a talk by Dr. Robert W. Bussard, Mark Suppes, a web developer by day, has built his own nuclear fusion reactor. [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Jun 24, 2010 - 23 comments

Academic Snarkives

arXiv vs snarXiv. "A ran­dom high-energy the­ory paper gen­er­a­tor incor­po­rat­ing all the lat­est trends, entropic rea­son­ing, and excit­ing mod­uli spaces". [more inside]
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth on Jun 4, 2010 - 50 comments

Up a bit, down a bit, over a bit ...

Sprocket Rocket is a physics game whose goal is to collect sprockets to unlock argumentations to your egg shaped rocket ship (and school you about IP law but you can ignore that part). [more inside]
posted by Mitheral on May 31, 2010 - 41 comments

Yarchive - Notes from the hinterland.

Yarchive is one man's collection of UseNET posts on the topics of Air Conditioning; Aircraft; Bicycles; Cars; Chemistry; Computers; Electrical, Electronic; Environment; Explosives, Pyrotechnics; Food; Houses; Guns; Jokes; Medicine; Metalworking; Military; Nuclear; Telephones; Physics; Risks; Security; Space mostly from a select group of authors. It has been updated several times since it first appeared here in 2001 and it never fails to sucker me in for hours every time I stumble upon it from a Google Search. [more inside]
posted by Mitheral on May 19, 2010 - 37 comments

This chronological wang-dang-doodle could destroy the very matrix of reality.

The Physics of Futurama David X Cohen, producer of Futurama, explains how there's actual, legitimate physics in the show, why not.
posted by shmegegge on May 16, 2010 - 56 comments

The quantum mechanics of the waggle dance.

Mathematician Barbara Shipman speculates that a honey bee's sense of the quantum world could be as important to their perception of the world as sight, sound or smell: "the mathematics implies that bees are doing something with quarks."
posted by jardinier on May 7, 2010 - 46 comments

Economics and Physics Envy

"Take a little bad psychology, add a dash of bad philosophy and ethics, and liberal quantities of bad logic, and any economist can prove that the demand curve for a commodity is negatively inclined." MIT economist Andrew Lo and string theorist turned asset manager Mark Mueller on the "physics envy" that plagues economics, and how to stop worrying and love uncertainty.
posted by escabeche on Apr 1, 2010 - 37 comments

spacetime must organise itself in a way that maximises entropy

Gravity from Quantum Information
At the heart of their idea is the tricky question of what happens to information when it enters a black hole. Physicists have puzzled over this for decades with little consensus. But one thing they agree on is Landauer's principle: that erasing a bit of quantum information always increases the entropy of the Universe by a certain small amount and requires a specific amount of energy. (via mr)
posted by kliuless on Apr 1, 2010 - 33 comments

Tell me why this doesn't work

The physics of Mothra
posted by elephantday on Mar 29, 2010 - 28 comments

Quantum weirdness at the large scale

Scientists supersize quantum mechanics. "A team of scientists has succeeded in putting an object large enough to be visible to the naked eye into a mixed quantum state of moving and not moving."
posted by homunculus on Mar 18, 2010 - 73 comments

Tiny & Big

Tiny & Big. Help Tiny recover his grandfather's magical underpants of teleportation stolen by the nefarious Big. A demo for a 3D physics puzzler involving a cutting laser and grappling hook. Youtube preview. Available for OSX (10.5), Windows, & Linux (32bit, 64bit).
posted by juv3nal on Mar 12, 2010 - 18 comments

there are many types of balls

Blosics 2 is a physics game. Throw blocks off the stage by shooting balls at them. There are many types of blocks, there are many types of balls. 30 levels to finish. (flash, music/sound effects optional) [more inside]
posted by crunchland on Mar 9, 2010 - 26 comments

Constants & Variables

Caltech physicist Sean Carroll recently tweeted that he was meeting up with Lost producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. This was posted to the forums at Lostpedia, prompting immediate spoiler complaints ... so Carroll signs up and drops in to the thread to clear up the confusion, also offering some of his thoughts on the use of time travel in the show and referencing a longer blog post he wrote shortly before the start of the final season.
posted by mannequito on Mar 3, 2010 - 75 comments

10^27 = HELLA BIG

Northern California physics student proposes hella as new SI prefix.
posted by cgc373 on Mar 2, 2010 - 68 comments

Life, the Universe and Everything -- explained

The Perimeter Institute is a center for theoretical physics in Waterloo, Canada. Among other outreach activities, they host a series of public lectures on a variety of physics related topics. [more inside]
posted by empath on Feb 26, 2010 - 11 comments

Phriday Physics

Physics shorts: odd & weird
posted by DU on Feb 26, 2010 - 15 comments

Left Hand Doesn't know what the Right Hand is Doing

Many thought the secrets of the universe would be revealed by the LHC in Switzerland, but the lower powered Brookhaven Collider briefly violated the laws of physics recently.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear on Feb 16, 2010 - 74 comments

Roger Penrose is looking more credible

Quantum processes involved in photosynthesis? "[A]lgae and bacteria may have been performing quantum calculations at life-friendly temperatures for billions of years. The evidence comes from a study of how energy travels across the light-harvesting molecules involved in photosynthesis. The work has culminated this week in the extraordinary announcement that these molecules in a marine alga may exploit quantum processes at room temperature to transfer energy without loss. Physicists had previously ruled out quantum processes, arguing that they could not persist for long enough at such temperatures to achieve anything useful." (via mr)
posted by kliuless on Feb 10, 2010 - 43 comments

The Purpose Of The Universe And Other Easy Questions

The Disenchanted Naturalist's Guide to Reality (see also)
posted by anotherpanacea on Feb 9, 2010 - 31 comments

the physics behind aerial skiing

Double Full Full Full, annotated (NYT video, reg REq'd) U.S. Olympic Team aerial skier Ryan St. Onge and a science reporter describe via video the physics going on as he executes a triple backflip with four twists. Also, the snowboard halfpipe. (Don't ask me why a triple backflip with four twists is called a "double full full full")
posted by planetkyoto on Feb 3, 2010 - 16 comments

The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences

The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences is a 1960 essay by Eugene Wigner. Via Steve Strogatz.
posted by jjray on Jan 31, 2010 - 30 comments

Contact is the secret, is the moment, when everything happens. Contact....

From 1980 - 1988, a science education series called 3-2-1 Contact ran on PBS. Produced by Children's Television Workshop, the series was geared toward an older audience than other popular CTW offerings Sesame Street and The Electric Company, and focused on teaching kids about science, math and the world around them. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jan 25, 2010 - 79 comments

Flying R2-D2, you are doing it wrong

"Using these values, the mass of R2 is 0.1 kg. Yes, 100 grams. How do I know I am correct? I know because Wookieepedia doesn't list R2's mass or weight. They know it is silly, so they left it off." A physicist explains why R2D2 must weigh less than styrofoam. [more inside]
posted by jbickers on Jan 21, 2010 - 83 comments

it from bit

Emergent Gravity - Erik Verlinde has a theory that "gravitational attraction could be the result of the way information about material objects is organised in space..." Here's some related weblog discussions and follow along on twitter! (via /. & bruces ;)
posted by kliuless on Jan 20, 2010 - 34 comments

The Genesis 2.0 Project: L.H.C.

The Genesis 2.0 Project The L.H.C. is not merely the world’s largest particle accelerator but the largest machine ever built. At the center of just one of the four main experimental stations installed around its circumference, and not even the biggest of the four, is a magnet that generates a magnetic field 100,000 times as strong as Earth’s. And because the super-conducting, super-colliding guts of the collider must be cooled by 120 tons of liquid helium, inside the machine it’s one degree colder than outer space, thus making the L.H.C. the coldest place in the universe.
posted by srboisvert on Dec 29, 2009 - 52 comments

Season's Gweetings

The World's Smallest Snowman is 10 µm across, 1/5th the width of a human hair. The snowman was made from two tin beads used to calibrate electron microscope astigmatism. The eyes and smile were milled using a focused ion beam, and the nose, which is under 1 µm wide (or 0.001 mm), is ion beam deposited platinum.
posted by netbros on Dec 19, 2009 - 35 comments

Free (Battery Powered) Energy

They're back! The Irish Company Steorn -previously previously and previously are streaming live feeds of their Orbo device that's going to save us all. Fingers crossed this time lads, eh?
posted by Wrick on Dec 16, 2009 - 61 comments

Feynman at his best

"Fun To Imagine" is a BBC series from 1983 featuring theoretical physicist Richard Feynman thinking aloud. What is fire? How do rubber bands work? Why do mirrors flip left-right but not up-down? All is explained in his lovely meanderingly lucid manner. [more inside]
posted by mhjb on Dec 15, 2009 - 26 comments

If you wouldn't like living that way (in the lowest status slot in the pecking order), you're doing it wrong.

Metafilter's Own Charlie Stross asks the question; " You, and a quarter of a million other folks, have embarked on a 1000-year voyage aboard a hollowed-out asteroid. What sort of governance and society do you think would be most comfortable, not to mention likely to survive the trip without civil war, famine, and reigns of terror?" engrossing commentary follows. (via)
posted by The Whelk on Dec 11, 2009 - 156 comments

[Tiger Woods] is busy, hasn't got a lot of time, but wants to catch up on what's happening in physics...

At least something good for someone has come out of the whole Tiger Woods brouhaha. Photos of Woods' wrecked SUV reveal a copy of Get a Grip on Physics on the floor of the Escalade's back seat. [more inside]
posted by Naberius on Dec 4, 2009 - 60 comments

Wolfgang Pauli was a Gargoyle?

The Bohr-Einstein Debates, With Puppets
posted by lenny70 on Dec 1, 2009 - 7 comments

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