The hidden physics behind the brain's folds and furrows, ground-penetrating radar for asparagus detection, and a conversation on the future of quantum computing at Caltech/IQIM's quantum summit were among this week's physics highlights.
Me at Gizmodo:
Why Assuming You’re Mediocre Could Save You From Financial Ruin. "After a slow fourth quarter in 2015, many economists predict the United States economy will rebound for a stronger showing later this year. That’s promising news. So why do many of us feel like we’re not doing so well—even in times of relative prosperity? Perhaps there’s a fundamental error underlying current economic theory that accounts for this disconnect, as well as many other key challenges plaguing the field. That’s the gist of a provocative thesis outlined in a new paper in the journal Chaos."
What Siri Can Learn from Your Brain About Tuning Out Noise in a Crowded Room. "Walk into a roomful of people, and your first impression is just noise. Within seconds, you start to pick out words, phrases, and fragments of conversations. Soon you’ll be merrily chatting with friends, oblivious to the din around you. But most of us never stop to think about exactly how our brain manages to pick out one conversational thread amid the noisy background in a crowded room. It’s called the “cocktail party effect.” In a recent paper in PLOS Computational Biology, researchers at the University of Tokyo, led by Takuya Isomura, report that the secret lies in the brain’s remarkable ability to rapidly rewire itself— a property known as plasticity. Individual brain cells (neurons) can actually learn how to tune out many kinds of input and focus on one in particular, allowing us to have a meaningful conversation even in the middle of a noisy bar."
The Best Girl Scout Cookie Wine Pairings, Tested. "‘Tis the season for Girl Scout cookies, and everyone’s buzzing about a new guide from the folks behind the Vivino wine app, suggesting 12 wines to pair with 12 different types of Girl Scout cookies. Really? We were skeptical, so Gizmodo actually drank wine with Thin Mints and Trefoils. For you."
Soon We Can All Join Paul Rudd in Mastering Quantum Chess. "Last week the Internet learned that “Anyone Can Quantum,” when actor Paul Rudd faced off against Stephen Hawking in a game of quantum chess. The 12-minute video has racked up more than 1.5 million views, with Fast Company declaring it one of the best ads of the week. And soon we’ll all be mastering the rules of the subatomic realm, with today’s launch of a Kickstarter campaign to create a commercial version of quantum chess." Related: Paul Rudd has a message for Chris Cantwell, inventor of the Quantum Chess game: the graphics suck. Chris needs your pledges to make it better, people.
Other Cool Links:
How are atmospheric gases helping scientists narrow the search for life on other worlds?
Is dark matter subatomic particles, a superfluid, or both?
Heat Transfer Breakthrough Brings Quantum Computer Closer To Reality. Related: Big Data, Quantum Solutions: Applying quantum computing to topological data analysis. Also: NSA Says it “Must Act Now” Against the Quantum Computing Threat. Bonus: Contemplating a Quantum Future: what you missed at last week's quantum summit, organized by Caltech's IQIM. Plus you can watch me moderate a conversation on the future of quantum computing.
Things you never thought went together: Ground-penetrating radar for asparagus detection.
If you're trying to catch a football player, physics is your best friend.
3D Printing Reveals the Hidden Physics Behind the Brain's Folds and Furrows.
Physics Explains Why Fallout's Nuka-Cola Quantum Glows Blue.
Viral paper claiming math would disprove conspiracy theories features flawed math.
Dark matter may reveal itself, if light it emits as it dies is Doppler shifted.
"What if you built a siphon from the oceans on Europa to Earth? Would it flow once it's set up?" tl;dr: no. But the reason why is really interesting.
Physicists are using one of the oldest laws of nature to find the mass of the elusive neutrino.
Why It’s Hard for Black Holes to Get Together: They have no trouble swallowing anything—except themselves.
This Radioactive Life: "An overly plump atomic nucleus just can’t keep itself together."
Physicist Risks Death by Wrecking Ball for Science.
How the Soviets Got Scooped on Their Own Historic Moon Landing.
PhD Comics: Gravitational Waves Explained.
X-Ray Photographs From the 1930s Expose the Delicate Details of Roses and Lilies. Per Colossal: "When selecting flowers we are often first attracted to their vibrant colors, eager to choose a bright orange lily or deep red rose. Dr. Dain L. Tasker, an early 20th century radiologist, was attracted to a different feature of the blooms—their anatomy. Using X-ray film to highlight the soft layering of petals and leaves, Tasker produced ghostly images devoid of color, each image appearing more like an ink drawing than photograph." [Image: “untitled, (lily),” 1932, vintage gelatin silver print, 11 1/4 x 9 inches. Credit: Dain L. Tasker/Joseph Bellows Gallery.]
The Mysterious Physics of the World’s Fastest Carnivorous Plant (the bladderwort).
How to Edit Your Math Pessimism. These are excellent. Negative self-talk only worsens math phobia.
New MoMath exhibit uses beavers, train tracks, spinning turntables to illustrate a theorem based on Truchet tiles.
Look Around You: Spherical Videos and Möbius Transformations.
Coloring by Numbers, Mathematically. The new coloring book, Patterns of the Universe, highlights the visual beauty of mathematics.
Why Diamonds Are More Of A Scientific Miracle Than You Think.
Thermal Imaging Camera Shows How and Where Human Body Loses Heat.
From exile to eminence: How the alien hunters conquered astronomy.
Flat disk-like stones thrown at shallow angle skip well across water, but elastic spheres are good skippers, too.
The experiments trying to crack physics' 'biggest' question: what is dark energy?
Madness and Genius: Cosmologist Janna Levin on the Vitalizing Power of Obsessiveness, from Newton to Einstein.
What do we need? A Jarvis for molecular modeling. When do we need him? Yesterday.
Don't Worry About The Fuel Used To Charge Your Phone In The Car.
NASCAR and Electric Cars: A Response to Bill Nye.
This Six-Mile Stretch Of Minnesota Road Is Actually A Science Lab For Pavement.
Waaaah! Goodbye Manhattan, the Historical Drama That Never Took Off.
Sea ice forms in patterns that depend on local ocean conditions.
Scientists increasingly understand it's important to talk to public, but few realize that sci-comm goes both ways.
LENSES, an interactive light & sound installation by Hush Studios.
When Apollo 14 Landed on the Moon: The 'Forgotten' Photos.
Back-of-the-Envelope Calculation: Reaching Gender Equality in Physics Faculty.
The Most Exciting Poem Ever Written is the Beaufort Wind Scale.
Sally Ride Reminds Us That One Thing Hasn't Changed For Female Astronauts.
The Mystery of a Prince Rupert's Drop at 130,000 FPS.