A Review of Criticality Accidents (3.7 MB pdf) Do you like reading comp.risks, or CVR transcripts from famous plane crashes? Then you may enjoy this technical analysis of 60 accidents where improper handling of fissile materials led to unexpected critical mass. [more inside]
There used to be this problem you see, until one of our own kindly settled it. His services are desperately needed once again.
Confirmed: Scientists Understand Where Mass Comes From. An exhaustive calculation of proton and neutron masses vindicates the Standard Model. Matter is merely vacuum fluctuations.
Is the Multiverse Real? Discover takes a look at theories that our universe is one of many. This blogger adds some interesting commentary. via
Incredibots. Make crazy machines! Solve puzzles! Share with your friends! And that's just the beta. Similarly [more inside]
"...the best place to hide bulls**t is in a refereed journal that’s not open-access!" The math-physics blog n-category cafe digs into the curious case of M.S. El Naschie. El Naschie is editor-in-chief of the journal Chaos, Solitons, and Fractals, published by the well-respected scientific publisher Elsevier and sold to academic libraries for US$4,520 a year. The problem? El Naschie has published 322 of his own papers in the journal -- papers that John Baez (of "This Week's Finds in Mathematical Physics" and "The Crackpot Index") describes as "vague, dreamlike imagery," "undisciplined numerology larded with impressive buzzwords," and "total baloney." Is El Naschie a reverse Sokal? Or a Markov process for producing random publishable papers? One thing's for sure -- he knows how to cure cancer.
The Science of Scent. An entertaining and enlightening TED talk by biophysicist Luca Turin.
A math professor was explaining a particularly complicated calculus concept to his class when a frustrated pre-med student interrupts him. "Why do we have to learn this stuff?" the pre-med blurts out. The professor pauses, and answers matter-of-factly: "Because math saves lives." "How?" demanded the student. "How on Earth does calculus save lives?" "Because," replied the professor, "it keeps certain people out of medical school."
The DiVincenzo Code [youtube trailer, geekery]. Faced with a strict demand from a funding agency to allocate research funds towards the dissemination of research ideas to the public, an experimental physics group at the University of Oxford produced a feature-length (55 min) action thriller about murder, ancient prophecy, tea breaks, and quantum computation. [more inside]
From the American Physical Society, Physics is a great free resource for those of you out there that want to keep up with current research topics in the vast world of physics. [more inside]
Quantum of culture. Terminology from quantum theory shows up frequently in art, films, poetry and sculpture. Robert P. Crease gauges the impact of quantum mechanics on popular culture. [Via]
Physics Invader takes the classic Space Invaders idea and, as you might guess from the name, adds physics. Extra points awarded for pushing the heaps of Invader corpses off the edge of the screen! PEW PEW PEW! [more inside]
Nobels for Physics announced. The prize will be shared between three individuals, including one American teaching at the University of Chicago. The other two winners are from Japan, Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa .
Anathem, Neal Stephenson's new book, is stupendous, possibly his best. But his acknowledgments page (summarized in the print version and as expansive as ever on the Internet Reticulum) might be even more interesting, and poignant, especially as an introduction to the niftiest piece of metaphysics in the book: the quantum effects (PDFs) of consciousness among many worlds. [more inside]
Star Stories explains the life and death of stars using a multimedia approach that incorporates images, animation, video and text. From the official website of the Nobel Foundation. Don't miss out on the other cool games . [more inside]
The ALICE Collaboration is building a dedicated heavy-ion detector to exploit the unique physics potential of nucleus-nucleus interactions at LHC energies. The aim is to study the physics of strongly interacting matter at extreme energy densities, where the formation of a new phase of matter, the quark-gluon plasma, is expected. This website aims both at introducing non-initiates to the field of physics covered by ALICE and at providing regular information on the evolution of the experiment, with detailed reports of its results and analysis.
In a scant few hours, scientists will make the first attempt to circulate a beam in the Large Hadron Collider. Terrified of nothing, a few deeply misguided morons have sent death threats to the CERN team, probably because of Faith-Based Science. [more inside]
Silly pencil pushers! You can't KILL Physics! What's that? Oh, physics *research*. You've won this round!
RIP Bell Labs "After six Nobel Prizes, the invention of the transistor, laser and countless contributions to computer science and technology, it is the end of the road for Bell Labs' fundamental physics research lab."
Whether Einstein's "spooky science" or quantum weirdness, the Geneva tests that show entangled photons traveling at 10,000 times the speed of light are stirring up challenges and "Alice in Wonderland" discussions about "subatomic particles communicating nearly instantaneously at a distance." [more inside]
Science Hack is a unique search engine for science videos focusing on Physics, Chemistry, and Space. For example, things to do with sulfur hexafluoride. Still growing, the editors are presently indexing other scientific fields of study including Geology, Psychology, Robotics and Computers. Ever wonder why things go bang?
Anything but clear. It is well known that panes of stained glass in old European churches are thicker at the bottom because glass is a slow-moving liquid that flows downward over centuries. Well known, yes, but long known to be wrong. Scientists still disagree about the nature of glass, and researchers continue to try to understand its dual personality . [more inside]
An Interactive Space Simulator "Smash planets together, introduce rogue stars, and build new worlds from spinning discs of debris. Fire a moon into a planet or destroy everything you've created with a super massive black hole. You can simulate and interact with our solar system: the 8 planets,160+ moons, and hundereds of asteroids, the nearest 1000 stars to our Sun, and our local group of galaxies." [31Mb, Windows only, sorry, but see inside for similar Mac and Linux apps] [more inside]
If you like those giant plush microbes but maybe they're a little too life-sciencey for ya, perhaps you would like The Particle Zoo instead.
728 ton pendulum in action: Taipei 101's tuned mass damper during the Sichuan earthquake. [Via The Long Now Blog]
Jonathan Golob at Dear Science.org has a series of posts up about nuclear power. Topics include: The physics behind nuclear power, the inner workings of a reactor, nuclear radiation, nuclear waste, the disasters at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, and the future of nuclear power. Also in a truncated podcast form. [more inside]
The Reality Tests. "A team of physicists in Vienna has devised experiments that may answer one of the enduring riddles of science: Do we create the world just by looking at it?"
Paul Nylander's home page is garish and busy, but full of interesting tidbits about fractals, insects, physics, and other things.
This little game lets you learn about G Forces AND have fun. From the University of Cambridge's Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technologies. You must build a roller coaster that thrills the occupants, but be warned - if they throw up your score gets reset, and making them black out is also frowned upon.
R.I.P. John Wheeler, theoretical physicist. Famous for the Wheeler-Feynman equations and the term "black hole," which he coined to describe a singular point mass, he has died at age 96. The NYT usually gives pretty good obituary but they outdid themselves this time. [more inside]
Carl Zimmer's Science Tattoo Emporium - "Underneath their sober lab coats and flannel shirts, scientists hide images of their scientific passions. Here they are revealed to all." From the science journalist and writer responsible for The Loom and numerous other published works.
Online Crayon Physics Flash version of stuff from here and here. No download needed (vs. prior posts) and totally addicting.
The little windows in the walls of time amber provides aren't always open. Opaque amber is common and, until now, has hidden away many fossil creatures. 100,000,000 years.... via bbc [more inside]
Larry Niven warned everyone about it. MetaFilter, too: Try to escape. Quantum black holes is dangerous.
Gorgeous images, selected solely for their artistic appeal, from the pages of Physical Review B.
Swinging from pendulums and facing down wrecking balls, MIT professor Walter Lewin shows students the zany beauty of science.
Prof Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan looks at the physics of wrinkles, creases and folds - from the small to the very large (video demos), feeds his venus flytrap, then rides on his magic carpet.
At the University of Texas, researchers have produced some amazing videos and photos of liquid bouncing on liquid. This was one of nature.com's Images of the Year for 2007 (picture number 6, in the upper-right corner). The project report, along with pictures and videos, is found on their bouncing jet page, and it's quite extraordinary both for the counter-intuitive nature of the phenomenon and the extremely low-tech production methods. You can even do it at home with little more than a lazy Susan and some silicone oil. [more inside]
Physical Review Letters' 50th anniversary retrospective promises to be an interesting survey of the physics landscape for the past half-century.
Quantum Mechanics: Myths and Facts (pdf), a recently-updated paper on the Cornell arXiv peer-review site. By Hrvoje Nikolić of the Rudjer Bošković Institute in Croatia. [more inside]
Solar cell directly splits water for hydrogen. Thomas E. Mallouk and W. Justin Youngblood, postdoctoral fellow in chemistry, together with collaborators at Arizona State University, developed a catalyst system that, combined with a dye, can mimic the electron transfer and water oxidation processes that occur in plants during photosynthesis. They reported the results of their experiments at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science today in Boston.