Among this week's physics highlights: The closest exoplanet yet has been discovered in the Proxima Centauri star system, the discovery of the pentaquark has been confirmed (again), and the Dragonfly 44 galaxy is made up almost entirely of dark matter.
Me at Gizmodo:
New Earth-Like Exoplanet Could Be Discovery of the Century. "In what’s being hailed as one of the biggest astronomical discoveries of the century, scientists with the European Southern Observatory (ESO) today confirmed the discovery of an Earth-like exoplanet in the habitable zone of Proxima Centauri—our nearest neighboring star. Details of the team’s discovery were just published in Nature."
Astronomer Avi Loeb Is Here To Talk To You About Exoplanets. "We’re sure you have questions—lots and lots of questions—about this potentially momentous discovery, the hunt for exoplanets more generally, the prospects for future exploration (or even colonization), and the tantalizing possibility of extraterrestrial life. Harvard University astronomer Dr. Abraham (Avi) Loeb, who chairs the advisory committee for billionaire Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Starshot Initiative, is with us today to answer them."
Bonus: Meet Proxima Centauri, Home to Our Newest Exoplanet. Slooh sponsored a live broadcast last night.
Scientists Just Found Signs of Supernovae on the Sea Floor. "Is it possible to find trace evidence of supernovae from millions of years ago in the sediment lining the ocean floor? One astrophysicist has spent the better part of a decade trying to find the proverbial smoking gun to prove that it is. And now, it seems, he has succeeded."
The Mystery About the 'Coffee Ring Effect' Continues. "The 'coffee ring effect' is that pattern you get when a single liquid evaporates and leaves behind a ring of previously dissolved solids. In the case of coffee, that would be the coffee grounds. A new paper in Physical Review E. demonstrates that we still have a lot to learn about this seemingly simple everyday occurrence."
How Playing the Bagpipes Can Kill You. "Bagpipes and other wind instruments produce beautiful music, but they can also be prime breeding grounds for molds and fungi. Players then regularly breathe in those creatures, and can develop inflamed lungs as a result—or even a fatal lung disease. That’s the conclusion of an unusual case study just published in the journal Thorax by researchers at the University Hospital South Manchester in England. They’ve dubbed it 'bagpipe lung.'”
Lawnmower Triggers False Alarm for Northern Lights Display. "A group of scientists at Lancaster University in England are constantly monitoring geomagnetic activity, to get a heads-up for the spectacular night sky display known as the Northern Lights. So a couple of days ago, they were thrilled to get a strong reading that an aurora was likely imminent. Alas, it turned out to be a false alarm. The culprit? A ridable lawn mower."
Why Astronaut Mark Kelly Is Now Even Older Than His Twin Brother: The twin paradox. "Astronaut Scott Kelly returned from a year-long sojourn in space in June. His slightly older astronaut twin, Mark Kelly, stayed home as a control—part of NASA’s twin study to monitor the effects of space on the human body. But there’s a physical change that NASA might not be able to measure that easily. Mark is now even older (by about 5 milliseconds) than his space-faring twin, thanks to special relativity."
How to Make Your Own Gravitational Waves. "Remember that time Stephen Colbert brought physicist Brian Greene on The Late Show to demonstrate the concept of gravitational waves with green lasers? Yeah, that was pretty awesome. Now there’s a handy DIY demonstration for those of us without access to that kind of technology, courtesy of science presenter Steve Mould."
Other Cool Links:
How Life Could Survive on Proxima b. Related: Yes, We've Discovered a Planet Orbiting the Nearest Star but let's not lose our minds. Also: What Happens If E.T. Phones Us? Scientists just discovered a planet nearby, raising questions about alien life. Finally: The Language of Aliens Will Always Be Indecipherable.
Dragonfly 44: a galaxy as big as the Milky Way but with far fewer stars, made out of dark matter.
Ballistic Fungi Use Surface Tension to Create Extraordinary Accelerations.
Pentaquark Discovery Confirmed: The Exotic Five-Quark Particle Detected By CERN’s LHCb Experiment Is Here To Stay.
Supernova's Historical Claim to Fame Vanishes. A ball of debris thought to be produced by a star explosion observed in A.D. 386 is not the stellar corpse astronomers are looking for.
MIT Channels MacGyver: Boils Water Using a Sponge, Bubble Wrap, and Sunlight.
In Combat and Car Accidents, Nanoparticles Could Fight Internal Bleeding.
Where's my warp drive? The long, slow scientific path towards interstellar travel.
Just how dangerous is it to travel at 20% the speed of light?
From Sean Carroll (a.k.a. the Time Lord): "An argument that we don't live in a simulation. Reasoning about large universes is hard."
Quantum Hanky-Panky: a conversation with MIT's Seth Lloyd.
Theoretical physicist Jim Gates talks physics and whether we're all living in the Matrix.
Ghost imaging isn’t a supernatural feat. It’s just another mind-bending application of quantum mechanics.
Five Facts About the Big Bang: It’s the cornerstone of cosmology, but what is it all about?
Researchers have uncovered an ancient Mexican text that had been hidden for 500 years.
Soap films can create remarkable flow visualizations when illuminated with monochromatic (single color) light.
Behold the Very First Color Photograph (1861): Taken by Scottish Physicist (and Poet!) James Clerk Maxwell. "The Scottish scientist chose to take a picture of a tartan ribbon." [Image: James Clerk Maxwell]
The things you can learn from a single grain of sand. "Civil engineers have developed a new method that measures the way forces move through granular materials—one that could improve our understanding of everything from how soils bear the weight of buildings to what stresses are at work deep below the surface of the earth."
The best comment of the week: “Particle physicists are so unbelievably bad-ass. They probably don't hear that often enough.” Preach it.
Supersymmetry Bet Settled With Cognac.
Space and booze, an anecdotal history. From Buzz Aldrin's holy wine to vetting sherry, alcohol and space mix, despite NASA policy.
How many licks does it take to get to the center of a lollipop?: the physics of dissolving bodies in a flow.
Count One More Gold For The U.S. — In Math.
The Funky Math of the Electoral College: it's even crazier than you think.
From the South Pole to the science section: How ice becomes knowledge.
This week in NASA news: NASA just found a spacecraft that's been lost for two years. Related: NASA Wants To Make Space Habitats From Orbiting Rocket Fuel Tanks. Also: NASA’s Latest Mission Will Attempt To Land on an Asteroid—And Bring a Piece Home.
This Is What The Perseid Meteor Shower Looked Like Around the World.
The First Photographs of the Earth from the Moon Were Taken 50 Years Ago Today.
Beavers on the Moon: The Great Astronomy Hoax of 1835.
Spatial Bodies: Warped Architecture Bends and Twists Osaka Skyline. Per Weburbanist: "Imagine a world in which an abandoned city goes to seed, but rather than plants reclaiming buildings, the buildings grow and morph like unkempt weeds, twisting the skyline into impossible new patterns." [Image: "Spatial Bodies"/AUJIK]
A 19th Century Dress Submerged in the Dead Sea Becomes Gradually Crystallized with Salt.
Black female physicist pioneers technology that kills cancer cells with lasers.
Secret Science Nerds: Natalie Portman Will Psych You Out.
Scientists Invite Conspiracy Theorists to Check Out HAARP, Alleged Mind-Controlling Weather Machine.
Atomic Light: José Manuel Prieto in the New York Review of Books, on Akademgorodok, city of scientists. "As in the university towns of the United States, scientific activity dominates the entire life of Akademgorodok."
In 1898, Nikola Tesla Predicted Drone Warfare.
Scientist’s Sexual Assault Case Prompts University To Sue Its Student Newspaper.
Why scientists are losing the fight to communicate science to the public.
Radioactive Elements Coasters That Glow When You Place Your Drink on Them.
Your Harry Potter Party Needs This Self-Writing Spellbook Prop.
The History of Photography in Five Animated Minutes: From Camera Obscura to Camera Phone.
"J is for Joule": 19th Century Scientist James Prescott Joule Explains the Concept of 'Work' to a Robot Puppet.