March 27, 2015

2:43 AM | Throwback Thursday: Past the Fingers of God (Synopsis)
“On a cosmic scale, our life is insignificant, yet this brief period when we appear in the world is the time in which all meaningful questions arise.” -Paul Ricoeur What you see is what you get, except when it isn’t. We’re all familiar with Hubble’s law, or the notion that the Universe is expanding, and…

March 26, 2015

8:47 PM | Look up at the sky on a given night and it will be a tad...
Look up at the sky on a given night and it will be a tad different than the night before, or the night after. The position of stars will change, as will the planets and the phase and path of the moon. But no matter where you are on Earth and what part of the universe you find yourself peering into, one thing remains constant. Space is black.At least space (and the night sky) appears black. True black, the way a physicist might define it, anyway, is the absence of light. Even the most […]
3:41 PM | How particle accelerator maths helped me fix my Wi-Fi
Using 19th century physics can demonstrate that light is a form of electromagnetic wave ... or improve your Wi-Fi receptionThis piece was first published on The Conversation Electromagnetic radiation – it might sound like something that you’d be better off avoiding, but electromagnetic waves of various kinds underpin our senses and how we interact with the world – from the light emissions through which your eyes perceive these words, to the microwaves that carry the Wi-Fi […]
12:30 PM | Sweat The Small Stuff
I feel like I’ve been really busy lately but somehow haven’t accomplished anything significant. I’ve let a few weeks slip by without the intended weekly blog posts, but behind the scenes I’ve been up to a lot. I’ve written a few blog posts that I ultimately didn’t post, I’ve sat through some really boring meetings, […]
7:29 AM | Einstein's Lens Splits Space and Time
This year, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first publication of Einstein's greatest masterpiece, the General Theory of Relativity.  Now astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have found a remarkable quadruple image of a distant exploding star which helps confirm another of that theory's most "far out" predictions.The General Theory connects space, time, and gravity in mind-boggling ways.  Strong gravity can actually warp (or bend) space and distort the flow of time. […]
1:16 AM | Supertides are real!
“But less intelligible still was the flood that was caused by forty days’ rain, and forty nights’. For here on the moors there were some years when it rained for two hundred days and two hundred nights, almost without fairing; but there was never any Flood.” -Halldór Laxness Once every 18 years, a French Abbey…

March 25, 2015

7:16 PM | Physicist's research of glassy materials nets NSF CAREER award
Physicist Justin Burton at work in his lab, where he studies amorphous matter. (Emory Photo/Video)By Carol ClarkEmory physics professor Justin Burton received a $625,000 award from the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program. The five-year CAREER grants, among the NSF’s most prestigious awards, support scientists who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research integrated with excellence in education.Burton will apply […]
6:40 PM | Study Suggests Magnetic Fields Can Control Heat And Sound
More than a hundred years ago, physicists discovered that heat is simply the energy stored in the vibrations of atoms. This meant that heat and sound are related. Now, for the first time ever, scientists have experimentally shown that these atomic vibrations have magnetic properties, too.Read more...
6:30 PM | Alien Spaceships Traveling At Near Light Speeds Will Still Be Visible
Aliens traveling at near the speed of light won’t go undetected, according to two researchers at Raytheon. Posted on the arXiv, their paper argues that fast-traveling…
5:20 PM | This Tree Branch Hits A Power Line, Screams, And Then Explodes
This tree branch is screaming — seriously, it actually is making screaming noises — as it catches fire on a group of power lines. But why does this branch spontaneously combust when it hits them, and birds that land on power lines don't? Read more...
3:40 PM | We Should Be Able To Detect Spaceships Moving Near The Speed Of Light
A pair of engineers say it's possible to detect the signatures of spacecraft traveling at relativistic speeds, and we can do so using current technologies. The trouble is, their new analysis also suggests that moving through space at ludicrous speed is more hazardous than previously thought.Read more...
3:12 PM | Ep. 370: The Kaufmann–Bucherer–Neumann Experiments
One of the most amazing implications of Einstein’s relativity is the fact that the inertial mass of an object depends on its velocity. That sounds like a difficult thing to test, but that’s exactly what happened through a series of experiments performed by Kaufmann, Bucherer, Neumann and others. Ep. 370: The Kaufmann–Bucherer–Neumann Experiments Jump to […]
3:00 PM | The secrets behind chameleon’s skin coloration change
Color patterns are important features of lots of animals, having key functions in protection against UV irradiation, camouflage, shoaling or sexual selection. Color patterns […] Read more The post The secrets behind chameleon’s skin coloration change appeared first on Mapping Ignorance. Related posts:Non-trivial biological quantum effects Triassic lungs: Unidirectional flow in alligators’ breathing Quantum mechanics in biological systems (III): Magnetoception
2:00 PM | Invisible 'Shield' Redirects Killer Shock Waves
A proposed device would create a veil of heated, ionized air to bend shock waves around people, vehicles or other objects.
11:55 AM | “Talking Dogs and Galileian Blogs” at Vanderbilt, Thursday 3/26/15
I mentioned last week that I’m giving a talk at Vanderbilt tomorrow, but as they went to the trouble of writing a press release, the least I can do is share it: It’s clear that this year’s Forman lecturer at Vanderbilt University, Chad Orzel, will talk about physics to almost anyone. After all, two of…
1:39 AM | Could the LHC make an Earth-killing black hole? (Synopsis)
“There is, I believe, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evil, a natural defect, which not even the best education can overcome.” “And your defect is a propensity to hate everybody.” “And yours… is wilfully to misunderstand them.” -Jane Austen Every time we go to higher and higher energies in our particle accelerators,…

March 24, 2015

10:46 PM | The cool car: electric vehicles show possible benefit to combat global warming
Electric vehicles have been touted as a revolution waiting to happen to our transportation grid, just as soon as we can make a battery that provides long-range travel between charging stops.  They are also sold as a way to avoid … Continue reading →

Li C, Cao Y, Zhang M, Wang J, Liu J, Shi H & Geng Y (2015). Hidden benefits of electric vehicles for addressing climate change., Scientific reports, 5 9213. PMID:

8:10 PM | Stars May Generate Sound, Physicists Say
An international team of scientists headed by Dr G. Ravindra Kumar of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, India, has provided experimental evidence that stars may produce sound. When examining the interaction of an ultra-intense laser with a plasma target, Dr Kumar and his colleagues from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and the University [...]
7:30 PM | Technicolor theory and the Higgs
Earlier this year, claims have been bouncing around the internet about the results of the biggest discovery in particle physics. That the Higgs boson, the boson meant to help us understand where the origin of mass in particles comes from, is not actually the Higgs boson and that Peter Higgs should have his Nobel Prize whisked away from him quicker than you can say ‘Large Hadron Collider’.The Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) is one of the detectors in the Large Hadron Collider where the […]
7:11 PM | LHC Short Circuit Delays Awesome Physics Quest
Unfortunately, an electrical glitch has put the breaks on the Large Hadron Collider's grand reboot this week -- but it's not the end of the world.
6:58 PM | When Does Quantum Mechanics Become Classical Physics?
When most people think of quantum mechanics they think of Schroedinger's cat, a thought experiment describing a cat inside a closed box, that may be either dead or alive. Only when the classical physics world enters the box do we know. But what is the tipping-point between that cat's life and death, when does quantum behavior give way to classical physics?Where, on the small scale, is Schroedinger's cat small enough size to be perceived as being both alive and dead at the same time?A new […]
5:00 PM | As It Turns Out, We Really Are All Starstuff
"The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars," Carl Sagan famously said in his 1980 series Cosmos. "We are made of starstuff."Read more...
2:36 PM | How Does Angular Momentum Emerge?
Yesterday’s post about VPython simulation of the famous bicycle wheel demo showed that you can get the precession and nutation from a simulation that only includes forces. But this is still kind of mysterious, from the standpoint of basic physics intuition. Specifically, it’s sort of hard to see how any of this produces a force…
1:02 PM | The physics of a falling slinky
No summary available for this post.

March 23, 2015

10:30 PM | This Seed Plants Itself By Corkscrewing Into The Earth
Drill, baby, drill.
7:00 PM | Hypothesis: Our Solar System Lacks ‘Super-Earths’ Because Jupiter Wrecked Them All
It turns out our solar system is weird: it doesn't have any rocky "super-Earths" orbiting closer to the sun than Mercury. Here's one theory as to why: like Miley Cyrus, Jupiter came in like a wrecking ball and smashed any nascent terrestrial planets just as the solar system was forming.
6:24 PM | The Strangest Discoveries That Made Me Fall in Love With Science Again
Even for people with the right inclination, the sciences aren't always easy to enjoy. They're exacting frustrating, and slow-to-advance — but also ever-changing. And sometimes, the most unexpected things can make you rediscover them all over again. Here are the strangest things that made me love each of the sciences.Read more...
2:12 PM | The Emergence of Angular Momentum
The third of the great physics principles introduced in our introductory mechanics courses is the conservation of angular momentum, or the Angular Momentum Principle in the language of the Matter and Interactions curriculum we use. This tends to be one of the hardest topics to introduce, in no small part because it’s the last thing…
2:12 PM | Gravity Probe B Notes: Projecting Vectors via the Dot Product and the Importance of High School Trig
I'm in the process of reading Schiff's Gravity Probe B inception paper[1].  Gravity Probe B was the satellite borne experiment that detected the Earth's gravitomagnetic field, but that's not what I'll be talking about today.  This post is more about a math trick/pattern.  It's a mathematical pattern that comes up pretty frequently in physics, so I figured it was worth a few notes here.  The first picture below shows the equation for the torque on a spinning object due to a […]
11:41 AM | Spring Flukes: New 3-Sigma Signals From LHCb And ATLAS
Spring is finally in, and with it the great expectations for a new run of the Large Hadron Collider, which will restart in a month or so with a 62.5% increase in center of mass energy of the proton-proton collisions it produces: 13 TeV. At 13 TeV, the production of a 2-TeV Z' boson, say, would not be so terribly rare, making a signal soon visible in the data that ATLAS and CMS are eager to more
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