The cocktail party will be on vacation for the rest of October, as Jen-Luc Piquant and the Time Lord kick back in London, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. We'll be back with weekly physics roundups on November 5. In the meantime, here's a quick recap of some of the top physics stories this week.
Nature has not been kid to science this week. Mount Wilson Observatory has completely run out of water: Drought causes shutdown of fountains and restrooms. Related: on the plus side, NASA photos reveal only minor space center damage from Hurricane Matthew.
Silkworms Spin Super-Silk After Eating Carbon Nanotubes and Graphene.
Stuff Physicists Don't Understand: Sonoluminesence. How can tiny collapsing bubbles inside a vat of water or other liquid reach temperatures of 20,000°? Nobody has a clue.
How Einstein and Schrödinger Conspired to Kill a Cat: The rise of fascism shaped Schrödinger’s cat fable.
Buster Keaton was the best stunt man ever. Wired's Rhett Allain does some physics on his vintage feats.
Physics explains why heavyset baseball players can be better hitters.
This Classic Sci-Fi Concept Could Solve a Key Hurdle to Interstellar Travel. "Instead of a cone-shaped sail, as others have proposed, why not make it a ball?"
Do Einstein's theories explain portals in comic books like Doctor Strange?
Bagels, pretzels, and the Nobel prize in Physics: If you're baffled by the phrase “topological phases of matter,” Scientific American's Evelyn Lamb is here to help. Related: How This Year's Nobel Laureates In Physics Changed The Game.
New Techniques Could Target More Exotic Dark Matter. After decades of experiments have failed to find evidence for physicists’ favored dark matter candidate particles, scientists plan searches for alternatives. Related: What if dark matter is not a particle?
From Urinals to Printers: Enough with the Splashing.
The Physics of People Somersaulting in an Indoor Skydiving Tube.
The Surprising Power Of Really Simple Physics (like the ball and spring model for matter).
Can you explain loop quantum gravity to people who know next to nothing about physics? Carlo Rovelli shows you can.
What Is An Intuitive Way To Understand Entropy?
What's So Special About Special Relativity?
“Did I say 100 billion galaxies in the universe? Sorry! I mean 2 trillion.”
President Obama Talks the True Importance of Star Trek.
What Science Is Buzzworthy? The surprising gap between lab results and media darlings. (not that surprising, really.)
Five Elements Burn in Beautiful High Definition Macro Footage.
The Beautiful and Terrifying Behavior of Cesium, the Most Active Metal in the World.
Wow your friends with the power of physics by performing these bar tricks you can do with science.
How the Geometry of Movies Can Change the Way We Think.
Euclid as Founding Father: We hold this mathematics to be self evident.
The math of rumor spreading. "Studying the spread of rumours allows us to understand how misinformation spreads, and can in turn help us to counter the effects. Alternatively, inside knowledge of how rumours work can be used to disseminate information quickly in an emergency, or create effective viral and political marketing campaigns."
The fungus Pilobolus spreads its spores with a squirt cannon. [Image: BBC Earth Unplugged]
One possible future for particle physics experiments costs $7.8 billion and 23 million person hours of labor.
An experiment in visualizing notes from music scores.
How computers might finally be able to understand humor - Vector space math could gel machines spot sarcasm.
Particle accelerators explained in a wonderful animated short.
'Really Bad Chess' Is a Really Fun Insult to Chess.
Stephen Wolfram's essay about his research into Ada Lovelace's personal and scientific history. Related: She argued for Newton's physics: "Here, by Voltaire, is a poem about mathematician/scientist Émilie du Châtelet." Also: Girls Can't Do Math or Science? A music video for International Day of the Girl destroys that tired old stereotype. Bonus: An illustrated celebration of trailblazing women in science. Finally, Bright Night, Starry City – an illustrated love letter to the cosmos, celebrating women astronomers.
Secret Science Nerds: James Cameron Dives Deep into the Science of Cinema.
The Art of Teaching Math and Science: What can we learn from the best teachers on the front lines?
Letter from Albert Einstein to his son Eduard goes up for auction, offers glimpse into his work, family life.
Periodic Table Battleship!: A Fun Way To Learn the Elements.
The Big Bang Theory Intro Recreated Using LEGO.
Have you ever wondered how complex things like life can arise in a universe that tends towards disorder? Let Sean Carroll and Minute Physics explain: