It's Christmas Eve and Jen-Luc Piquant needs to be out celebrating with friends and family, so we'll keep this week's physics links round-up short and sweet. And Happy Holidays to all, whether you celebrate Christmas or another holiday this time of year.
Lots of Christmas-themed science stuff this week! How Fast Is Santa? Consensus says about 2.43 million MPH. How Much Weight Would Santa Gain From All Those Cookies And Milk? This Guy Did The Math. Bones of Saint Nicholas Reveal What Santa Claus Really looked Like: "once the crypt is set up in the museum with care, they have hopes that Saint Nicholas soon will be there." The Astronomy Behind The Star Of Bethlehem. Nanostructure of Rudolph's antlers inspire next generation of unbreakable materials. And just because we love Rube Goldberg machines at the cocktail party: Watch a Christmas Tree Lit Up by a Record Breaking Rube Goldberg Machine.
The Specific Jazz Inspired Chord Sequence That Make Christmas Songs Sound So Cozy. Speaking of carols, Chewbacca Sings a Touching Rendition of "Silent Night" in His Native Shyriiwook Language. Related: A Hilarious Animated Literal Interpretation of "The 12 Days of Christmas." Also: Long-Lost Christmas Drinking Song Discovered at Oxford. Bonus: Hear "Twas The Night Before Christmas" Read by Stephen Fry and John Cleese.
Not especially science-y but I just have to share this Odd Christmas Tradition: The Skeletal Welsh Horse You Must Beat in a Battle of Rhymes. "In the Welsh folkloric tradition of Mari Lwyd, a horse skull visits your home around Christmas, and you must best it in poetry or allow it inside."
The assumption that the winter solstice is the objective beginning of winter is an illusion. Related: How Ancient Cultures Commemorated the Darkest Day. Also: Watch a beautiful time lapse of the winter solstice sun in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Meet the Nano-Snowman: Scientists see snowman's face in platinum encrusted nanoparticle. [Image: University of Birmingham]
Interstellar Blues and the Pitfalls of Long-Duration Spaceflight. Passengers explores the difficulties, both personal and scientific, of journeying to another star. Related: A Passengers-Like Torpor Seems Possible, and NASA Is Already Funding the Research. Also: The Stars of Passengers Quiz a NASA Scientist. Relevant: The Best Use of Science in TV and Film in 2016.
In the Deep, a Drive to Find Dark Matter. "Elena Aprile now leads the world’s most sensitive dark-matter search. But before she could build her first detector, she had to make herself out of titanium." Related: Hunting Dark Matter between the Ticks of an Atomic Clock. Optical atomic clocks could detect planet-size flaws in a field that might help explain dark matter.
Let’s-a-Go: The Physics of Jumping in Super Mario Run.
How did music get its groove? Mistakes make rhythm emerge from randomness.
LIGO should more than double its gravitational wave haul in 2017.
New Evidence Threatens To Crush The Dreams Of Alien Megastructures.
NASA’s next stop—Mars or the Moon?
“Deep below our planet’s surface a molten jet of iron nearly as hot as the surface of the sun is picking up speed.”
The sacred and the scientific clash on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea.
Photoshopping the Universe: Astronomers produce beautiful images by manipulating raw telescope data, but such processing makes images more accurate, not misrepresentative of reality.
Celebrate Apollo 17’s 44th anniversary with this footage of astronauts singing on the Moon.
Pew! Pew! Paleontologists Harness the Power of Lasers.
Researchers floated a thin elastic sheet atop water to study how it wrinkles when a steel sphere impacts it.
How Science Uncovered $80 Million of Fine Art Forgeries.
Digital 'wallpaper' [a new kind of ceramic tile] means end for painting and decorating.
Fabric Made from Battery Material Cools Its Wearers.
On Found-Poetry in a Work on Clouds by the Great Physicist/Chemist, Michael Faraday (1827).
Leonardo, Rapunzel and the Mathematics of Hair.
Of Foreign Lands and Maths: "In 1786, Goethe began his famous journey to Italy, of which he kept a diary."
The Science of Spinning and How Gyroscopes Seem to Defy Gravity.
Spark of Science: Meet Melissa Franklin: Harvard’s first tenured woman physicist.
Physicist David Bohm on Creativity: "One prerequisite for originality is clearly that a person shall not be inclined to impose his preconceptions on the fact as he sees it. Rather, he must be able to learn something new, even if this means that the ideas and notions that are comfortable or dear to him may be overturned."
The Private Heisenberg and the Absent Bomb.
The Forgotten Life of Einstein's First Wife: She was a physicist, too.
This geophysicist uses rock-sniffing subs to understand polar magnetic flips.
Sidney Drell, theoretical physicist and national security expert at Stanford, dies at 90.
Obama’s Outgoing Science Advisor Will Keep Watch in 2017. Related: AAAS CEO to Young Scientists: Speak Up. Keep Focused. Carry On. Also: What It's Like Being a Sane Person on the House Science Committee. “It is frustrating when you have the majority party of a committee pushing junk science and disproven myths to serve a political agenda.”
Jen-Luc cannot wait to see this movie. Hidden Figures, The Glass Universe, And Why Science Needs History. Related: Hidden Figures Cast Wants to Live in a World Where More Girls Can Be Scientists. Also: Hidden Figures Composers Tried to Challenge "Assumptions About The Way Space Exploration Should Sound." Bonus: Historic Pictures Show the Hidden Women of the Space Race. Gifted in math, these African-American women were shattering stereotypes during the earliest days of NASA's mission to the moon and beyond. Meet the Real-Life Rocket Scientists Behind Hidden Figures.
11 Things People Get Wrong About Space Because They Saw Them In A Movie.
The Math Behind Overbooking, or Why Airlines Sell More Tickets Than There Are Seats.
11,000 Penguins Fight 4,000 Santa Clauses in an Epic Battle Simulator.
Finally, the Physics Girl Brings You 5 Physics Experiments for the holidays!