Among this week's physics highlights: "tunable" spider silk can block quasiparticles of sound (phonons); the birth of quantum holography; and exploiting the "slingshot effect" to build better tabletop accelerators.
Me at Gizmodo:
How Much You Need to Exercise to Make Up For Sitting All Day. "There’s been a lot of finger-wagging of late about the health risks associated with sitting at a desk all day, or binge-watching our favorite TV shows. Now couch potatoes can rejoice because a new study has found that just an hour of moderate activity a day wipes out all the negative impacts of sedentary behavior—contrary to some prior studies claiming exercise didn’t help much at all."
Amazing Spider Silk Continues to Surprise Scientists. "We already know that spider silk is something of a wonder material, but scientists are still discovering more awesome things that it can do. An international team of researchers has found that spider silk shares a useful property with semiconductors—except rather than exploiting this to manipulate electrons, it can be used to manipulate sound and heat. As described in a new paper in Nature Materials, spider silk can block certain quasiparticles of sound (called “phonons”), depending on their frequency, the same way semiconductors can block certain electrons."
Sound Art Shows You What Musical Notes Actually Look Like. "Sound is something of an ephemeral phenomenon, existing in the moment that vibrations travel through the air. Those vibrations also exhibit distinct patterns, depending on frequency, which can be visualized by scattering a fine dust over a vibrating plate. This was the inspiration for Resonantia, an album whose catalog features photographs that capture those distinctive patterns for all 12 musical notes." [Image: Jeff Louviere and Vanessa Brown]
DNA Resolves 80-Year-Old Mystery Behind Belgian King's Death. "Controversy has long surrounded the presumed accidental death of Belgium’s King Albert I in 1934, with conspiracy theorists crying murder. Now, 80 years later, forensic geneticists have successfully matched DNA from blood found at the scene of his death with that of two of the late king’s distant relatives, hopefully resolving the mystery once and for all."
Apollo Astronauts Are Five Times More Likely to Die of Heart Problems. "Jim Irwin, Apollo 15. Donn Eisele, Apollo 7. Ronald Evans, Apollo 17. Wally Schirra, Apollo 7. Neil Armstrong, Apollo 11. These are all Apollo astronauts who died of heart attacks or related complications. All told, 43 percent of deceased astronauts from the Apollo missions died from cardiovascular problems, according to a new study published today in Nature’s Scientific Reports. That’s between four and five times higher than astronauts who never flew on a mission or who never left low-Earth orbit. Michael Delp of Florida State University, lead author of the new study, believes the likely culprit of this higher rate is their unprecedented exposure to deep space radiation."
These Are the Four Stages of Your Brain on Math. "Have you ever wondered what your brain is really doing as you sweat your way through a math test? Now you can see for yourself, thanks to a new brain imaging study from Carnegie Mellon University that captured the brain activity of people in the act of solving math problems."
Learn All About the History of Rockets in Just Four Minutes. "Diehard fans of space exploration, rejoice! That pseudonymous foul-mouthed mastermind, exurb1a, who gave us the universe in just four minutes, is back with an irreverent video tackling the colorful history of rocket science. It’s set to the tune of “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General” from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance."
Your Next Cocktail Could Defy Gravity With the Levitating CUP. "Diehard cocktail aficionados swear by serving specific drinks in the correct glass. I wonder what they’ll make of the Levitating CUP, a cocktail glass designed to float above a portable base, in seeming defiance of gravity."
Get Your Math Geek On with This A Capella Hamilton Parody. "It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the uber-nerdy A Capella Science series on YouTube. And now it’s back with another super-clever geeky video, parodying the hip-hop opening number of the smash Broadway musical Hamilton. Except in this case, the Hamilton in question is the Irish physicist and mathematician William Rowan Hamilton."
Other Cool Links:
The “slingshot effect” (not the gravitational kind) could lead to a new kind of table-top particle accelerator.
The Deconstructed Standard Model Equation: it's far more than elementary particles arranged in a table.
Jupiter's Great Red Spot might be making the planet red hot.
The birth of quantum holography: Making holograms of single light particles.
Why You Should Care about High-Dimensional Sphere Packing: it's not just for oranges anymore.
Lately, Science Has Been Having A Lot Of Fun With Hydrogels. "The possibilities for hydrogels, which are substances made from polymers that swell in water to form gel-like material, are seemingly endless due to their strength and insolubility."
Neutrinos Hint of Matter-Antimatter Rift. An early sign that neutrinos behave differently than antineutrinos suggests an answer to one of the biggest questions in physics. [Image: Olena Shmahalo/Quanta Magazine]
Winding Light Takes New Paths. "[I]n work published last week in Physical Review A, a team of researchers from Sun Yat-sen University in China demonstrate a technique for designing beams with a variety of trajectories."
The Atomki Anomaly: A result from an experiment in Hungary catches the attention of theorists in the United States.
Untangling Quantum Causation: Figuring out if A causes B should help to write the rulebook for quantum physics.
Dimensional Reduction: The Key To Physics' Greatest Mystery?
How Much Energy Could We Really Harvest from an Earthquake? A lot, it turns out, but not for very long.
A New Explanation for One of the Strangest Occurrences in Nature: Ball Lightning.
How Vector Space Mathematics Reveals the Hidden Sexism in Language. "As neural networks tease apart the structure of language, they are finding a hidden gender bias that nobody knew was there."
The corpse of a dead star zaps its companion with a death ray.
A new, independent review of the Orion spacecraft is pretty damning. The capsule is over budget and may need seven more years before flying crews.
NASA: On the Edge of Forever explores links between Star Trek and the International Space Station.
The Physics Of Stopping A Meteor With One Punch.
Origins of life - yeah, what's up with that?
Transistors will stop shrinking in 2021, but Moore’s law will live on. Final semiconductor industry road map says the future is 3D packaging and cooling.
Diamonds Lead to Ultra-High Pressure Situations.
Could Dark Energy Be Caused By A Reaction To What's In The Universe?
Edward Purcell’s musings about things that move in gooey stuff --a classic fluid dynamics paper from 1977--with doodles.
The Mathematical Elegance of the Grand Canyon.
America at the Atomic Crossroads: remembering the Bikini Atoll a-bomb detonation.
Beyond Chernobyl: 15 Design Concepts for a Post-Nuclear World.
Prismatic Light Paintings Produced From Refracted Light by Stephen Knapp. Per Colossal: "These large-scale works utilize minimal tools, harnessing simply light and dichroic glass to throw a multitude of colors against the walls and room. The installations are not sketched out beforehand or programmed by computer, but rather created during the installation process as Knapp moves intuitively to choreograph his intricate light patterns." [Image: Stephen Knapp]
From Physics to Science Fiction: Sci-Fi author C.A. Higgins explains how she made the journey from science to writing.
A Middle-Eastern synchrotron called SESAME Hopes To Transcend Borders With Groundbreaking Science.
Aerial photos of NYC and LA reveal symmetry hiding in plain sight.
What's Behind A Science vs. Philosophy Fight?
To win the International Math Olympiad, the US team trained with its rivals.
A practical guide for little girls (or boys) who want to become astronauts.
Quantum Steampunk: Caltech's Nicole Younger Halpern had a lovely time explaining quantum thermodynamics at the Cal State LA physics colloquium.
Five Fun Science Experiments You Can Do at Home With Your Kids.
Museum Of Ice Cream Delivers A Scoop Of Science, But Only If You Ask For It.
Find a Front Row Seat For Gazing at the Cosmos With This Dark Sky Park Map.
The Search for Earth Proxima, A Short Documentary About the Search for Earth-Like Exoplanets: