Pascal Boyer explores the field of crackpottery in his article How I found glaring errors in Einstein's calculations. "For some time now, I have been an avid reader and collector of webpages created by crackpot physicists, those marginal self-styled scientists whose foundational, generally revolutionary work is sadly ignored by most established scientists. These are the great heroes, at least in their own eyes, of alternative science." [more inside]
Solar activity normally follows an 11-year cycle. The new cycle was originally predicted to start in early 2008, but despite a few sunspots appearing last year, the Sun still features a remarkable lack of activity - the deepest minimum since 1913. However, NASA's STEREO mission has seen indications that activity is increasing again, in the form of a coronal mass ejection (video [.mov, 3.3 Mb]), with an accompanying radio burst.
Episode 4 - Problems "Okay, sometimes I almost want to give up everything." A fascinating insight into the Large Hadron Collider (loving the soundtracks too). YTL
Friday Flash Frustration: Their cute little faces ask for the impossible. Get them to the other side. (via)
New physics research: Time variation of a fundamental dimensionless constant
Friday Flash Fun: Green Moon Lab! Manipulate gravity and momentum to get to the exit in this sleek, simple, Portal-esque physics puzzler. Contains twenty levels plus an unlockable challenge mode. A little weak in the writing department, but the drunken swooping gameplay more than makes up for it. (via)
World of Science contains budding encyclopedias of astronomy, scientific biography, chemistry, and physics. This resource has been assembled over more than a decade by internet encyclopedist Eric Weisstein with assistance from the internet community. MeFi visited Weisstein's Mathworld a couple years ago.
A fascinating talk about the composition of the universe [Youtube, approx 1 hour], presented by Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist at CIT. [via] [more inside]
"It doubtless seems highly paradoxical to assert that Time is unreal, and that all statements which involve its reality are erroneous. ... I believe that time is unreal. But I do so for reasons which are not, I think, employed by any of the philosophers whom I have mentioned, and I propose to explain my reasons in this paper." ~McTaggart, The Unreality of Time, 1908. (Bonus: The Kant Song.)
On Truth and Reality. Despite several thousand years of failure to correctly understand physical reality (hence the current postmodern view that this is impossible) it is actually very simple to work out how matter exists and moves about in Space. The rules of Science (Occam's Razor / Simplicity) and Metaphysics (Dynamic Unity of Reality) require that reality be described from only one single source existing, as Leibniz wrote: "because of the interconnection of all things with one another." [more inside]
CERN Podcast - Lighthearted chats at the CERN laboratory with "a bit of particle physics thrown in". Featuring visits from British satirists and comedians, including Chris Morris and Kevin Eldon.
Scientists from the University of Michigan and the University of Maryland have managed to teleport information from one isolated atom to another over a distance of one meter, without it ever crossing space. Here's how they did it. [more inside]
The Italian Job: Problem Solved
Phriday Physics Phun! What is the force Superman exerts to stop a plane from crashing into the ground, or the speed and mass of Vince Vaughn's winning Dodgeball shot? What's the force exerted by a Dominique Wilkins windmill slam dunk, or the speed of a retired Charles Barkley? What's the frequency of a cat's purr? ...the mass of a snowflake? ...the pressure inside a can of soda? ..the reaction time of the human fingertip? The Physics Factbook, via hypertextbook.com, is "an encyclopedia of scientific essays written by high school students that can be used by anybody," containing over 800 entries and special topics. [more inside]
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]