This isn't your usual kinetic pachinko balls-in-a-gravity-maze toy, but a mindbending demonstration of magnets. It starts getting really crazy at about 2m in but one should enjoy the subtle pleasures too. Read the rest
Dave from Imperial College sez, "We've taken observations of the Cosmic Microwave Background from the Planck mission and turned them into a 3D printed map of the temperature of the universe when it was just a few hundred thousand years old. Download the files and print your own baby universe!" Read the rest
Jane Espenson is not only a talented TV writer who has worked on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica, and Once Upon A Time, she is also quite adept at constructing impressive Pringles structures.
"I did it!" she tweeted. "I did it! I built a Pringles ringle! No glue, just physics."
Most impressive to me is how Espenson managed to complete the ring before eating them all, as I most certainly would have done. Read the rest
Swirling a ball in a cup gets it spinning in the direction of the swirl, but adding six more starts them swirling in the opposite direction.
In the late 1960s and 1970s, the mind-expanding modus operandi of the counterculture spread into the realm of science, and shit got wonderfully weird. Neurophysiologist John Lilly tried to talk with dolphins. Physicist Peter Phillips launched a parapsychology lab at Washington University. Princeton physicist Gerard O'Neill became an evangelist for space colonies. Groovy Science: Knowledge, Innovation, and American Counterculture is a new book of essays about this heady time! The book was co-edited by MIT's David Kaiser, who wrote the fantastic 2011 book How the Hippies Saved Physics, and UC Santa Barbara historian W. Patrick McCray. I can't wait to read it!
From an MIT News interview with Kaiser:
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We want to address a common stereotype that dates from the time period itself, which is that the American youth movement, the hippies or counterculture, was reacting strongly against science and technology, or even the entire Western intellectual tradition of reason, as a symbol of all that should be overturned. In fact, many of them were enamored of science and technology, some of them were working scientists, and some were patrons of science. This picture of fear and revulsion is wrong.
We also see things that have a surprisingly psychedelic past. This includes certain strains of sustainability, design, and manufacture, notions of socially responsible engineering, and artisanal food. This stuff didn’t start from scratch in 1968 and didn’t end on a dime in 1982...
These folks were rejecting not science itself but what many had come to consider a depersonalized, militarized approach to the control of nature.
The magic of physics.
The new book, Einstein's Puzzle Universe, by Tim Dedopulos, is a compendium of good physics and logic problems. Here's one for you to solve:
Imagine that there is an even rope of negligible weight draped over a wheel, which permits it to slide perfectly freely. Equal lengths of the rope descend from either side. On the left side, the rope ends in a 10 kg weight. On the other side, perfectly level with the weight, is a young chimp, also weighing 10 kg.
When you give a signal, the chimp will start climbing the rope. Which of the two, the chimp or the weight, will reach the top first?
The European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, has been releasing portions of its research to the public for years. This week's massive 300 terabyte dump of Large Hadron Collider (LHC) data is the biggest yet by a long shot -- and it's all out there, open source, free for the exploration.
MinutePhysics responds to CGP Grey's video "The Trouble with Transporters," below.
Gravitational waves are real, and scientists have detected them. In the video above, PBS Space Time explains the discovery by researchers at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). From the New York Times:
A team of physicists who can now count themselves as astronomers announced on Thursday that they had heard and recorded the sound of two black holes colliding a billion light-years away, a fleeting chirp that fulfilled the last prophecy of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
That faint rising tone, physicists say, is the first direct evidence of gravitational waves, the ripples in the fabric of space-time that Einstein predicted a century ago (Listen to it here.). And it is a ringing (pun intended) confirmation of the nature of black holes, the bottomless gravitational pits from which not even light can escape, which were the most foreboding (and unwelcome) part of his theory.
More generally, it means that scientists have finally tapped into the deepest register of physical reality, where the weirdest and wildest implications of Einstein’s universe become manifest.
Below, NASA's animated simulation of the black holes merging and releasing the gravitational radiation (background here):
above image credits: R. Hurt/Caltech-JPL Read the rest
Brian, a graduate student of Applied Mathematics at Columbia University, has a Tumblr called Fouriest Series where he posts his math and physics visualizations. His explanations are clearly written. He also provides the Mathematica code he used to create his animations. From his post about chaos and double pendulums:
Summarized by mathematician Edward Lorenz, "Chaos [is] when the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future.“ There’s an important distinction to make between a chaotic system and a random system. Given the starting conditions, a chaotic system is entirely deterministic. A random system, on the other hand, is entirely non-deterministic, even when the starting conditions are known. That is, with enough information, the evolution of a chaotic system is entirely predictable, but in a random system there’s no amount of information that would be enough to predict the system’s evolution. The simulations above show two slightly different initial conditions for a double pendulum — an example of a chaotic system. In the left animation both pendulums begin horizontally, and in the right animation the red pendulum begins horizontally and the blue is rotated by 0.1 radians (≈ 5.73°) above the positive x-axis. In both simulations, all of the pendulums begin from rest.
Julldozer created an amazingly clever digital sundial ("Cadran Solaire Numérique") that precomputes the angle of the sun throughout the day and uses those computations to make hundreds of precise holes calibrated to cast a shadow displaying the present time. Read the rest
Have you ever tried to draw a brain? I find it hard to get the wrinkles to look right. Scientists at at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland made a solid model of a fetal brain out of gel that developed its own realistic furrows just by dunking it into a solvent.
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They made a solid replica of a foetal brain, still smooth and unfolded, and coated it with a second layer which expanded when dunked into a solvent.
That expansion produced a network of furrows that was remarkably similar to the pattern seen in a real human brain.
This suggests that brain folds are caused by physics: the outer part grows faster than the rest, and crumples.