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Physics by hand

To encourage discussion and engagement, a physics forum has banned PowerPoint slides in favor of low-tech whiteboards. A physicist is more than the sum of his or her slides. That's why, about six months ago, organizers of a biweeklyShow More Summary

Signal of WIMP dark matter

You may have already heard about the excess of gamma-ray emission from the center of the Milky Way measured by the Fermi telescope. This excess can be interpreted as a signal of a 30-40 GeV dark matter particle -- the so-called hooperon -- annihilating into a pair of b-quarks. Show More Summary

The New SAT, Reading, Gaming, and Jargon

Given the academic circles I run in, it’s not surprising that one of the most repeated stories crossing my social media feeds yesterday had to do with the changes to the SAT. Starting in 2015, the essay section will no longer be mandatory, and they’re going to reconfigure the reading and math sections to emphasize…

Why Can’t We Have Hoverboards?

Yes. The recent hoverboard video is a fake. Really, it was obvious. Tony Hawk couldn’t take the subterfuge any longer and had to confess. He felt that everyone would know the thing is fake. Clearly, Tony hasn’t been spending enough....

Evidence of the square root of Brownian motion

A mathematical proof of existence of a stochastic process involving fractional exponents seemed out of question after some mathematicians claimed this cannot not exist. This observation is strongly linked to the current definition and may undergo revision if nature does not agree with it. Stochastic process are very easy to simulate on a computer. Very […]

Various and Sundry

It seems to be too early for April Fool’s day, and yet the arXiv has Dark Matter as a Trigger for Periodic Comet Impacts by Lisa Randall and Matt Reece, a preprint described as “Accepted by Physical Review Letters, 4 … Continue reading ?

Cloudy with a chance of Physics

I don't know. That's a bit of a desperate title. But in exchange, a rather nice cloud formation, don't you think? This was from the sky over Los Angeles yesterday evening (a shot of the sky in the other direction is to the right - click...Show More Summary

Uncertain Dots, Episode 7

In which we move out of the original trilogy, and into J.J. Abrams territory. Cue the lens flare! This week’s random assortment of topics includes travel, airports, physics models of loading and unloading planes, uses and abuses of curve fitting, odd stuff we get sent to review, and high-speed video cameras. Miscellaneous links: – Rhett’s…

Struggling With Sincerity

In October 1988, I trashed my parents’ basement in order to get into college. OK, the causal connection is a little indirect, but it’s there. I was applying to college that fall, and needed to write an essay to go with my application. I’ve always been able to write stuff with very little effort, so…

There’s an app for that

From arcade-style fun to sophisticated simulations, these mobile downloads can supply your physics fix. From simulators and reference tools to fun and games, physics-related mobile applications run the gamut. Some of the apps were designed...Show More Summary

Could You See the Curvature of the Earth in this Airport?

Traveling can be boring sometimes. What happens when I get bored? I look for interesting problems and calculations. Above you can see the airport terminal inside the Atlanta airport. If you happen to be in there during a low traffic...

'Particle Fever' opens in the US

Particle Fever, a documentary that follows scientists involved in research at the Large Hadron Collider, opens this week in select theaters across the United States. Wish you could have witnessed the euphoria and excitement ripplingShow More Summary

What Is Color?

This year’s “Flame Challenge” asks scientists to explain color in terms an 11-year-old can understand. The rules limit answers to either 300 words of text or a 6-minute video. 300 words is ridiculously short, so video is clearly the way to go. Of course, I’m not much of a video expert, but then, one of…

Shave and a Haircut

Kate has been cutting The Pip’s hair a little bit at a time, and this morning he demanded a trim. This is a somewhat fraught process, as he’s two, and thus tends not to hold still very well. While Kate was trying to get him arranged, SteelyKid came bouncing into the bathroom to “watch,” which…

Recent papers by Susskind and Tao illustrate the long reach of computation

Most of the time, I’m a crabby, cantankerous ogre, whose only real passion in life is using this blog to shoot down the wrong ideas of others.  But alas, try as I might to maintain my reputation as a pure bundle of seething negativity, sometimes events transpire that pierce my crusty exterior.  Maybe it’s because […]

LA Phil Rock Star!

2 months agoAcademics / Physics : Asymptotia

When calling to mind the Los Angeles Philharmonic, everyone's (and all the posters') focus is on Gustavo Dudamel, (or, the Dude, as I call him), all unruly hair and visible enthusiasm and so forth, and that's great. He's an excellent conductor. Show More Summary

Take Part in the Festival!

2 months agoAcademics / Physics : Asymptotia

I’ve just returned from a rather wonderful two rainy days in Santa Barbara celebrating the work of Joe Polchinski. (See my previous post for more about this, including a few reflections.) It was a combination of high school reunion, group hug (with Joe in the center), and serious reflection about … Click to continue reading this post ?

Weekend Plot: wimp race

2 months agoAcademics / Physics : Resonaances

This weekend's plot encompasses almost the entire field of direct detection of WIMP dark matter: It shows the existing and projected limits on the scattering cross section of dark matter on nucleons. LUX -- a 370 kg xenon detector --...Show More Summary

CDMS result covers new ground in search for dark matter

The Cryogenic Dark Matter Experiment has set more stringent limits on light dark matter. Scientists looking for dark matter face a serious challenge: No one knows what dark matter particles look like. So their search covers a wide range...Show More Summary

Could The MythBusters Shoot a Cannonball Made of Ice?

2 months agoAcademics / Physics : Dot Physics

You can shoot all sorts of things from a cannon, but can you shoot a ball made of ice? The MythBusters set out to test that myth in their next episode, but let’s first think about the physics of an...

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