HOWTO cut paper snowflakes in the likeness of Nobel physics prizewinners

The physics journal Symmetry offers downloadable PDF templates to cut your own snowflakes in the likeness of Einstein, Marie Curie, and Schrödinger, to add some much-needed physics to your Xmas decor.

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Spacetime curvature placemats

AP Works's Trick Mat is a placemat that mimics spacetime curvature; no word on whether or how it can be purchased, alas (though you could probably make a pretty good disposable facsimile with an inkjet printer and some vector-art software). (via Super Punch)

Dumping a huge bag of plastic balls onto an escalator

It's almost a perpetual motion machine, and is absolutely a source of infinite amusement! (via JWZ)

Physics, or sorcery?

This table is being held up by the weight of the buckets that are resting on it!

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The Hobbit: could an arrow really kill a dragon?

thehobbit_2screenshot_mp_4-660x273 It's a big arrow, granted, fired from ballista rather than bow. But it's also a hell of a big dragon. [Wired]

Steven Gould's "Exo," a Jumper novel by way of Heinlein's "Have Spacesuit, Will Travel"

Steven Gould’s 1993 YA novel Jumper was a spectacular success (even if the film “adaptation” stank on ice), and each of the (all-too-infrequent) sequels have raised both the stakes and the bar for a must-read series. But with Exo, published today, Gould takes his game into orbit — literally.

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XKCD's What If: "Dear Abby for Mad Scientists" in book form

The book-length version of Randall “XKCD” Munroe’s brilliant What-If? column — which features scientifically rigorous, utterly absurd answers to ridiculous hypotheticals — has been on the bestseller lists since it was announced in March. Today, it hits shelves and: It. Is. A. <blink>Triumph</blink>.

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Particle Clicker: meth-addictive supercollider sim

The game, which I found absolutely and delightfully addictive, was created in a weekend by a group of undergrads at the CERN Webfest.

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Video: fun physics phenomena


Online Isaac Newton manuscripts workshop

India's Zetatrek citizen science initiative is online workshop starting on 19th July, where science and math hobbyists from all over the world are invited to study the original manuscripts of Sir Isaac Newton.

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Magnificent contraption: vacuum-cleaner/foam-ball particle accelerator

Niklas Roy's DIY particle accelerator contraption is based on vacuum-cleaner-powered pneumatic tube technology, installed in a beautiful glass pavilion located in the middle of a roundabout in Groningen, The Netherlands.

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Novel-writing is very energy-efficient

How much energy is expended in all the keypresses made in the course of typing a novel? Not much: "With a lot of rewrites, you might expend several kilojoules—but you'd need to rewrite every word 10 times to match the energy stored in a single AA battery." [XKCD What If?]

XKCD: the TED talk

Here's Randall Munroe's TED talk about his What If? series, in which he answers big, weird questions about baseballs travelling at the speed of light and such, which is also the subject of a hotly anticipated forthcoming book. The talk is a mix of war-stories and insight into what makes Munroe (who is a fascinating dude) tick.

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Exactly what $2, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000 looks like

Remember Anton Purisma's lawsuit for 2 undecillion dollars? Randall "XKCD" Munroe has devoted this week's What If? to calculating exactly what $2,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000 looks like. He points out that this is a sum larger than the present value of every manufactured good in the world, as well as all the potassium and calcium in the Earth -- more, even than the present value of a planet-sized lump of solid gold.

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Make a "perpetually"-flying paper airplane

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A walkalong glider is a type of model plane that's kept aloft, theoretically indefinitely, by someone walking along with it as it flies, generating rising air using a piece of cardboard, paddle, or even your body. Smithsonian Air & Space posted a template and instructions for making a simple paper walkalong glider. The plans come from a recent book by Stephen Voltz and Fritz Grobe (better known as the Mentos and Diet Coke guys) titled "How to Build a Hovercraft: Air Cannons, Magnetic Motors, and 25 Other Amazing DIY Science Projects."