Among this week's physics highlights: Why Ant Man probably didn't enjoy being shot from a bow in Captain America: Civil War, physicists see inverse Chladni patterns in a liquid, and Space X makes another spectacular landing.
Me at Gizmodo:
The World's Tiniest Light-Powered Engines Could Revolutionize Medicine. "Nanomachines could revolutionize technology and modern medicine, if only we had viable power sources to make them move where we wanted them to go. Now scientists at the University of Cambridge have built the world’s tiniest engines, powered by light, as described in a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."
The Right Vibrations Will Make Particles in Liquid Break Into a Circle Dance. "Chances are you’ve seen the gorgeous patterns that sound waves produce when sand is sprinkled on a vibrating metal plate. Now French physicists have produced inverse versions of these patterns using microbeads suspended in a liquid. They described their work in a recent paper in Physical Review Letters."
How Your Brain Uses Statistics to Boost Your Confidence. "We make many decisions every day, from choosing whether to buy skim or whole milk, to deciding which way to turn at an intersection. How confident you feel about your choices will influence your behavior. But that subjective feeling of confidence stems from objective statistical calculations in the brain, according to a new paper in Neuron. This is contrary to prior studies concluding that the brain takes shortcuts when processing decisions—following rules of thumb and making approximations, rather than making precise statistical calculations."
How the Venus Flytrap Became Predator Instead of Prey. "Remember when we told you that the Venus flytrap can actually count? That’s how this carnivorous plant knows the difference between the presence of prey in its trap and a false alarm. Now the same team of German scientists is back with insight into how the Venus flytrap turned the evolutionary tables to become predator instead of prey. They describe this work in a new paper in Genome Research."
The DuoGraph Makes Creating Pretty Spiral Patterns a Snap. "Remember that nifty Cycloid Drawing Machine making the internet rounds back in March? Its inventor, Joe Freedman, is back with a smaller, simpler version called the DuoGraph, making it easier than ever to create pretty swirling patterns reminiscent of Spirograph."
The Woman in This Famous Painting May Have Suffered from a Brain Disorder."The American artist Andrew Wyeth found inspiration for his most famous painting in a neighbor woman who suffered from a crippling, mysterious disorder that baffled her physicians. Now a child neurologist at the Mayo Clinic thinks he’s found the correct diagnosis."
Time Runs Backwards in Latest Video from A Capella Science. "Ready for some mind-bending musical physics to take you into the weekend? A Capella Science is back with a new parody video, “Entropic Time,” set to Billy Joel’s classic pop hit, “The Longest Time.” The twist: if you look closely, the video footage is running in reverse—a visual play on the subject of the song." [It was inspired by a lecture by Sean Carroll, a.k.a. the Time Lord, a.k.a. my spouse. His new book, The Big Picture, comes out next week! Let Sean tell you what it's all about.]
Other Cool Links:
Since Captain America: Civil War is opening: Science Confirms: Tiny Ant-Sized People Would Have a Shitty Time Being Fired From a Bow.
Just in time for Mother's Day: Four Episodes in the Life of Einstein’s Mother.
You don't need a supercollider to search for strange new physics. Huge supercolliders aren’t the only way to search for new physical phenomena. A new generation of experiments that can fit on a tabletop are probing the nature of dark matter and dark energy and searching for evidence of extra dimensions.
An experiment seeks to make quantum physics visible to the naked eye.
CERN Confirms: Large Hadron Collider Downed By Small Beech Marten (not a weasel). Related: Before a beech marten shut down the Large Hadron Collider, ground squirrels sabotaged a nuclear missile base.
Did a supermassive black hole 10 billion light years away pummel Earth with neutrinos? Astrophysicists Trace 'Big Bird' Neutrino to Ancient Exploding Galaxy. Related: EXO-200: The upgraded experiment aims to discover if neutrinos are their own antiparticles.
New Developments in the Quest for Metallic Hydrogen.
Einstein's Equivalence Principle Put to Test (Again): That's the goal of a French-backed space experiment called, appropriately, Microscope.
Gecko feet are providing art conservators with a new way of keeping fine artwork clean.
Big universe, big data: The future of astronomy is not in acquiring new data, but in mining the old.
Testing the Physics of BB-8: May the 4th Be With You.
A New Equation Counts How Many Alien Civilizations Have Ever Existed.
The Amateur Cloud Society That (Sort Of) Rattled the Scientific Community.
3D Holograms Of Atoms Offer A Glimpse Inside Molecules.
Following LIGO's Treasure Maps: Astronomers around the world are looking for visible sources of gravitational waves.
The Origin Of Earth's Oldest Crystals Has Been Revealed.
Take a deep dive — visually and scientifically — into the spectacle of auroras.
Seven lucky ways that gambling changed maths. Gambling is the vice that helped make the modern world. Here mathematician Adam Kucharski explains how casinos and card games inspired many ideas that are now fundamental to science.
Solar power is contagious. These maps show how it spreads from neighbor to neighbor.
Why Are We So Bad at Recycling Rare Metals From Technology?
How Stuff Works: A primer on the Standard Model of particle physics. (Part 3 of ongoing series).
The Science Behind Hitler's Atomic Bomb And How We Stopped It.
The Essence of Mathematics, in One Beatles Song.
A Sculptural Geometric Pop-Up Book By Tauba Auerbach.
"Felice Frankel lives between the lines": Science Should Be Totally Beautiful.
A history of nothing: how zero went from nil to something — https://aeon.co/videos/a-history-of-nothing-how-zero-went-from-nil-to-something …
Math explains giant rogue waves, according to the Physics Girl:
How to Build Working Versions of Iron Man's Gauntlet and Captain America's Shield.
What the Prime Number Tweetbot Taught Evelyn Lamb about Infinite Sums. Sometimes we learn math from lectures and textbooks. Sometimes it's Web comics and Twitter.
Probability Theory Pioneer Mark Kac on the Duality of the Creative Life, & the Singular Enchantment of Mathematics.
How to capture the violent tumult of our roiling universe, moment by moment.
It's Raining All Over The Universe. "Across the galaxy, on countless worlds, there will be rain."
Harry Kroto (1939-2016): A salesman of science in the best sense of the term.
Eugenia Cheng Makes Math a Piece of Cake: melding math and dessert recipes.
What to say to an 8th grader with math anxiety.
You can use physics to describe almost anything in life. “We live in a physics world where things have a physical function.”
Everyone's a Little Bit "Shapist": On happy little squares, thought experiments, and visualizing social systems.
Janna Levin’s Theory of Doing Everything. The astrophysicist sees science as a powerful force in culture.
Complementarity and the Quantum of Life: Physicist Frank Wilczek on Why Reality Is Woven of Opposing Truths. "You can recognize a deep truth by the feature that its opposite is also a deep truth."
This Is How Stephen Hawking Thinks: Can a 74-year-old theoretical physicist remain playful?
In a semi-closed environment, ammonia can burn like a mesmerizing wave of fire.
This Satellite Uses Special Glue to Stick to Space Debris Like Flypaper.
Site-Specific Pinhole Cameras Constructed From Nature Capture the Pacific Northwest
As nocturnal hunters, owls are aerodynamically optimized for stealthy flying.
The Physics of Kung Fu Brought to Life Through Motion Capture Visualizations.