Among this week's physics highlights: the physics of acrobatics, studying the propagation of shock waves while running, and could "qudits" capable of assuming 10 or more states be the future of quantum computing?
It's Independence Day weekend in the US, so here's a something celebratory to kick things off: Binging With Babish Recreates His Favorite Cocktails From His Favorite Films.
Also, I wrote an essay for Lincoln Center's online magazine The Score on the Physics of Acrobatics, featuring renowned French circus collective Compagnie XY's latest production, Il N'est Pas Encore Minuit (It's Not Yet Midnight). The performance looks fantastic and you should definitely go if the troupe comes to your town. Huge thanks to Becky Thompson of the American Physical Society for helping me analyze the physics!
Nil Communication: How to Send a Message Without Sending Anything at All. Physicists have exploited the laws of quantum mechanics to send information without transmitting a signal. But have they, really?
The way we run protects our upper bodies but our legs suffer. In-depth shock propagation analysis has revealed how running sends shocks through the body in greater detail than ever before, and hints at new ways to prevent common injuries.
How much does a rider’s position on the bike affect the drag they experience? New FYFD video explores this topic using high-speed video, flow visualization, and computational fluid dynamics.
The (surprisingly) complex science of trapping muskrats. Move over, Schrödinger’s cat. Perimeter Associate Faculty member Roger Melko has a new, and entirely Canadian, way to explore quantum physics.
Physicists Made the Brightest Light Ever using Diocles, one of the most powerful lasers in the United States. As bright as one billion suns, it could pave the way for next-generation X-ray technology.
Dark Matter Theory Triumphs In Sweeping New Study. Getting galaxies to rotate just right has been a problem for a long time. A new study, at long last, appears to have nailed it. Related: Don't be afraid of the dark: October 31 is Dark Matter Day, with events around the world celebrating the hunt.
Can faster-than-light particles known as tachyons explain dark matter, dark energy, and the Big Bang?
The Incredible Power of Living Fluids: We're beginning to learn the rules that govern how everything from flocks of birds to sperm cells flow, and it could transform technology and medicine. [sub required]
Artificially Intelligent Painters Invent New Styles of Art. "An artificial intelligence has been developed that produces images in unconventional styles – and much of its output has already been given the thumbs up by members of the public." [Image: Art and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Rutgers University]
New Multi-Colored Photons Could Dramatically Increase Computing Speeds. Related: Qudits: The Real Future of Quantum Computing? "Scientists have now developed a microchip that can generate “qudits” that can each assume 10 or more states, potentially opening up a new way to creating incredibly powerful quantum computers." Also: Quantum Computing Becomes More Accessible. Increased testing of quantum computing techniques will open the door to solving new kinds of problems Finally: Delivering on a Quantum Promise. With the European Commission investing €1bn over 10 years in quantum technologies, Karl Svozil warns against overselling many of the initiative’s longer-term goals.
Weighing the universe's most elusive particle at the Karlsruhe Tritium Neutrino (KATRIN) experiment.
What’s really happening during an LHC collision? It’s less of a collision and more of a symphony.
Excellent satire from the Onion, as always. Theoretical Scientists Gather For 35th Annual Symposium To Try To Determine How Gas Nozzle Knows When Tank Is Full. Of course, we DO have a very good idea of how gas nozzles know when the tank is full, as I wrote in a 2010 blog post about the Venturi effect.
The Physics Of Vacation: It's All About Phase Transitions. The experience of vacationing in the tropics owes a lot to the physics of changing between different states of matter.
Math’s $1,000,000 Question: Physicists are attempting to map the distribution of the prime numbers to the energy levels of a particular quantum system.
Humanity is nothing more than a microscopic blip in the universe. But does that mean we are insignificant?
Planet Nine Is Put on Trial in Absentia. Breathless media coverage notwithstanding, the cases for and against a hypothetical Planet Nine in the outskirts of the solar system remain inconclusive.
Your Connected Devices Are Screwing Up Astronomy. The radio spectrum is a limited commodity—and more and more of it is getting slurped up by consumer devices.
Planets in other star systems fit a puzzling pattern. Data from the Kepler space telescope show that exoplanets tend to be similar in size to their neighbours and regularly spaced, no matter the size of their star.
Astronaut Chris Hadfield on Settling Space: ‘It Won’t Go as Planned.’
"18th century comet hunter Charles Messier was so angry about all the galaxies, nebulas and star clusters that got in his way as he was trying to discover comets that he made a "blacklist" of all the celestial objects that astronomers should avoid. It became a famous and indispensable catalog for astronomers":
Success of Gravity-Wave Satellite Paves Way for 3-Craft Mission: LISA Pathfinder test far exceeded expectations.
Solving the Mystery of Whose Laughter Is On the Golden Record Launched Into Space with Voyager I and II.
A pigeon-piloted bomb, odd powders, and cryptic science—Ars Technica goes to NIST.
Solving the Centuries-old Mystery of Rare 'Bright Nights': "Using a special interferometer and data from the 1990s, two Canadian researchers say that they can explain why the sky seems so much brighter on some nights." One word: airglow.
SpaceX Is Making Commercial Space Launches Look Like Child’s Play.
The crumpling of graphene sheets explains a “soft spot” in the material’s mechanical response.
New Simulation Method Predicts Crystal Structures Like Never Before.
A fine-tuned universe may be controversial but can’t be ignored. Expect a heated debate.
Incredible New Observation Shows Supermassive Black Holes Orbiting Each Other. Related: A new study finds that the seeds for supermassive black holes were planted when the universe was still young. Also: Spinning Black Holes Could Create Clouds of Mass.
Someone made a ridiculous video about NASA finding aliens. Some news outlets took the bait.
Here is another way to measure the height of a building - using your phone's accelerometer.
A Path Less Taken to the Peak of the Math World. June Huh thought he had no talent for math until a chance meeting with a legendary mind. A decade later, his unorthodox approach to mathematical thinking has led to major breakthroughs.
To understand the foundations of physics, study numerology.
Origami Numbers: The recent development of origami mathematics has caused a revolution in paper folding.
Arnold Schoenberg Creates a Hand-Drawn, Paper-Cut “Wheel Chart” to Visualize His 12-Tone Technique.
Mapping Mexico’s hidden graves: Statistical model could guide future searches for the disappeared.
People don't understand radiation, and that worries Tim Jorgensen, Associate Professor of Radiation Medicine at Georgetown University and author of Strange Glow: The Story of Radiation. Related: Life Needs (Some) Radiation. "You’d think that when you protect cells from the natural background radiation, they’d do better—no radiation means no stress, no damage, faster growth. But as the French experiment suggested, some level of radiation may be beneficial." Related: "We’re used to radiation being invisible. With a Geiger counter, it gets turned into audible clicks." In this video, you can see "radiation’s effects made visible in a cloud chamber." [Image credit: Cloudylab]
It’s not just you – solving a Rubik’s cube quickly is officially hard. "A recent study shows that the question of whether a scrambled Rubik’s cube of any size can be solved in a given number of moves is what’s called NP-complete – that’s maths lingo for a problem even mathematicians find hard to solve."
Here's what happens when lightning doesn't hit the ground.
13 physics innovations you may not know are Canadian. "This year is Canada’s sesquicentennial, so if there was ever a time to celebrate Canada’s incredible contributions to the world, this is it."
That time the world’s greatest physicist, Albert Einstein, met the world’s greatest comic film star, Charlie Chaplin.
Cotton candy capillaries (silver nano wires) lead to circuit boards that dissolve when cooled.
Researchers designed an anti-reflective coating for smartphone screens, with inspiration from bumpy eyes of moths.
NASA: You Could Probably Make Wine In Space. Related: Aging Wine on the Bottom of the Sea Could Become a Thing in France. "Two years ago, a winemakers’ association in France dropped 120 bottles of red, white and rosé wine at an undisclosed location in the Mediterranean Sea, as part of an experiment to see if sea bed aging yields better results than traditional cellar aging."
The Tao of Tau: There are plenty of arguments for why the lesser known Greek letter should be as popular as its more famous cousin, Pi.
Mathematicians Explain Sports to Each Other: "So is three-point range a closed set?"
Alien vs. Comet: Is the SETI “Wow!” Signal Dead?
What is Symmetry in Physics? Video by By animator Rosanna Wan with producer Ed Prosser for The Royal Institution.
The Mountain or Valley Illusion: whether you see a mountain or a valley on a map has to do with where we assume the light is falling from.
Via Paul Halpern on Twitter: Your Saturday Morning existential multidimensional quantum cartoon: Schrödinger's Rooster starring Foghorn Leghorn: