Water on Mars (and the release of the highly anticipated Matt Damon film The Martian), the physics behind the formation of icy pillars known as penitentes, and experiments to probe the quantum vacuum were among this week's physics highlights.
Me on Gizmodo:
Penitentes for the win! Physicists Unravel the Longstanding Mystery of These Spiky Ice Pillars.
This New Kind of Molecule Stops Jet Fuel from Exploding. "Molecular velcro" is the key to a nifty new fuel additive.
We're One Small Step Closer to a Working Light Saber --or at least getting photons to clump.
The Inside Story on Lightless, One of the Year's Most Exciting New Space Operas. A Q&A with first-time author C.A. Higgins, who drew on her physics degree -- specifically, her thermodynamics class -- for her debut novel.
Master the Art (and Physics) of Sabrage with This Space-Age Champagne Saber.
A Short Film Shot Through a Water Droplet is Hauntingly Beautiful. All you need is an iPhone, a 5 yen coin, and a droplet of water to make a "water lens."
One Physicist's Quest for New Physics Beyond Einstein and the LHC -- in case you missed Quanta's lovely profile of theoretical physicist Nima Arkami-Hamed.
Here's Everything We Know So Far About Finding Water on Mars. This was the big news on Monday this week, and I put together a round-up of Gizmodo's coverage.
Other Cool Links:
In addition to the links above, there was some nice coverage of the Mars news in other outlets as well -- like Ars Technica: Water flows on present-day Mars. Direct evidence found that water is involved in summertime darkening of Martian soils. Related: streaks of salt on Mars mean flowing water, and raise new hopes of finding life. Also: Space Igloos, Lava Tubes and Hobbit Holes: Here Are Our Future Martian Habitats. Bonus: Europa or Bust: Three numbers explain why Europa, not Mars, is the best place to find alien life. [Image (below): Streaks formed by the flow of water, 2015 / NASA/JPL/University of Arizona. Public domain.]
NASA and The Martian – a cosmic coincidence too good to be true? Related: A real-life astronaut reviews the Matt Damon film. Also: Science is often misrepresented in the movies, but The Martian is an exception, and the hero’s a botanist to boot.
Life Is a Braid in Spacetime: How to see yourself in a world where only math is real.
How Merino Sheep Behave Like an Avalanche. It's all in the math!
A Simple Physics Project That’ll Show You How Inertia Works.
A New Map Traces the Limits of Computation. A major advance reveals deep connections between the classes of problems that computers can — and can’t — possibly do.
The burgeoning field of neutrino astronomy.
Fermilab's giant magnet begins its journey into the quantum badlands. Two years ago, a huge magnet made its way from Brookhaven, New York to Fermilab, Illinois, via Florida and the Mississippi. And that’s not the strangest thing about it.
Gravity waves missing in latest test. "They found absolutely nothing. But they found nothing in a useful way."
Egyptian blue: more than just a color. Finding new science in an ancient pigment.
What would happen if you found yourself inside the Large Hadron Collider?
31 Stunning Photos of Sunday's Supermoon Eclipse.
Charon: A Dark Moon With a Dark Past.
New study reveals how Rosetta's comet got its 'rubber ducky' shape.
Mutiny, Booze, and Playboy In Orbit: Here's a YouTube Channel About Vintage Space History. Related: Moon Bloopers: In the 1970s, NASA analyzed the way astronauts tripped and slid across the lunar surface.
Chelyabinsk Meteor Played 4.5 Billion Years of Cosmic Pinball.
New discovery? Or just another bump? For physicists, seeing is not always believing.
Fold and Cut Theorem – Cut any shape from only one cut.
Moon-Landing Equivalent for Robots: Assembling an IKEA Chair.
When Ancient Texts Vanish, These Scientists Make Them Reappear.
Rare 1955 Interview with J. Robert Oppenheimer by Edward R. Murrow.
The World of Everyday Experience, In One Equation. On a T-shirt.
Rhei, A Truly Beautiful Ferrofluid Display Clock.
The Trouble with Theories of Everything: There is no known physics theory that's true at every scale—there may never be.
A Q&A with Fermilab’s first artist-in-residence. Lindsay Olson wraps a year of creating art inspired by particle physics.
A Statistical Analysis of the Work of Bob Ross: the math behind all those "happy trees." From 2014, but well worth revisiting.
Check out Adam Savage’s Animated Lesson on the Simple Ideas That Lead to Great Scientific Discoveries.
Nikola Tesla’s Predictions for the 21st Century: The Rise of Smart Phones & Wireless, The Demise of Coffee (1926/35).
Polyphonic Playground: Making Music with Fun Movement.
The First Ever Optical Rectenna Turns Light Directly Into DC Current.
How to Build an Off-Grid Solar School in 2 days in Rural Kenya.
The geometric horror game Euclidean is Lovecraft levels of scary.
Why It's Impossible to Tune a Piano: new video from Minute Physics: