This week's physics highlights: measuring a black hole's spin, the trouble with Star Trek's transporters, and physicists successfully created the first "Majorana" particles for topological quantum computing.
Me at Gizmodo:
Physicists Create 'Pseudo-Particles' for Error-Free Quantum Computing. "We may be one step closer to quantum computing that’s inherently protected from errors. Physicists at the University of Copenhagen have successfully created an exotic type of pseudo-particle (anyons) that is immune to outside interference. The results are described in a new paper in Nature."
That Time Star Wars' BB-8 Visited the Robots at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Not so long ago, in our very own Milky Way galaxy, a plucky little droid named BB-8 roamed the hallowed halls of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, rubbing elbows with its robotic brethren. Happily, a photographer was on hand to capture this moment for posterity." [Image credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech]
A Violin's Warm, Mellow Sound Comes From Its Varnish. "Violin makers routinely finish their instruments with a thick coat of varnish, the better to protect and preserve the wood. Now Swiss scientists claim that this varnish also plays a role in the overall sound quality of the instrument. As described in a new paper in Applied Physics A, Marjan Gilani and her colleagues at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Material Science and Technology (EMPA) studied how a varnish’s chemical composition, thickness, and degree of penetration into the wood affected the acoustics of the instrument."
These Animated Riffs on 1870s Galloping Horse Footage Are Delightful. "Animation students at Carnegie Mellon University were recently tasked with reimagining classic film footage of a galloping horse from the late 19th century. They did not disappoint, drawing on Burger King, space aliens, rainbow centaurs, and modern art for inspiration. The footage in question was taken by British photography pioneer Eadweard Muybridge in the 1870s."
The Problem With Teleportation. "Teleportation is a safe, convenient mode of travel in the Star Trek universe. But what if the Star Trek transporter is essentially a “suicide box” instead? That’s the unnerving conclusion of a new animated video from CGP Grey about the trouble with transporters.... [T]his video goes beyond the usual purely scientific discussion to delve into deeper metaphysical questions, like the philosophical puzzler known as the Ship of Theseus, and the problem of consciousness."
Gravitational Waves Explained to the Beat of 'Can't Feel My Face' Sounds Aca-Awesome. "Are you tired of hearing about how awesome it is that we’ve discovered gravitational waves? LIGO is so last month, right? Here’s something to make the topic seem fresh and wondrous again: a delightful a cappella parody music video, set to the tune of The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face,” by A Capella Science."
Other Cool Links:
A Timely Fix for a Grand Theory of Nature. A disarmingly simple model of ecology does everything well — except for predicting how rapidly nature can change. Can it become more realistic while still avoiding biology’s messy complexities?
Astronomers exploit a remarkable supermassive black hole binary system to measure the primary black hole's spin.
Are the Constants of Physics Constant? So far, they seem to be—but nobody really understands why.
Superconductivity Hypothesis Gets Some Experimental Confirmation.
How Does Superman's Heat Vision Work?
Could Right-Handed Neutrinos Solve The Dark Matter Puzzle?
Art of Darkness: The Dark Energy Survey’s art show offers a glimpse of the expanding universe.
Obviously Don’t Set Off Nukes to Do Cool Science. Obviously.
If you can turn a vacuum into an improvised weapon, DARPA may want your help.
Putting the Science in Science Fiction with Actress and Sciren Taryn O’Neill.
Brian (full name Dolomedes briangreenei in honor of physicist Brian Greene) loves hunting fish, going swimming, and being a spider.
New Material Can Fold From Full 3D to Flat All By Itself.
The Physics of Buster’s Epic End in the MythBusters Finale.
These Statistical Models Predict when Steph Curry’s streak will end. "This is why no one likes nerds: math kills beautiful dreams."
Big Data Analysis Is Changing the Nature of Sports Science.
Joel Butler will lead the LHC's CMS experiment starting in September.
Five years later, Fukushima’s contamination is slow to fade.
Everything You Should Know About Sound.
Consciousness is a mathematical pattern: Max Tegmark's TEDx talk.
What is the celebrity uncertainty principle?
Why Are We Still Listening to Music in Two Dimensions?
Mathematics meets music: “The Entropy of Music: How Many Possible Pieces of Music Are There?”
This Flexible Film Uses Liquid Metal to Absorb Radar and Cloak What It Covers.
How to Sew like a Mathematician: An investigation of toroidal bias tape.
Unleash Your Inner Mad Scientist with This DIY Jacob’s Ladder.
You probably missed this week's total solar eclipse. Here are some of the most spectacular photos. [Image credit: Exploratorium]
SpaceX’s Rocket Loses Its Battle Against a Robot Boat (Again).
Spacecraft finds “magic island” in hydrocarbon seas of Titan.
Statisticians Found One Thing They Can Agree On: It’s Time To Stop Misusing P-Values.
Meet the real ironman of spaceflight: Valery Polyakov.
Scientists made cutting edge 'smart skin' with Post-its, foil and tape.
Scientists just grew vegetables in 'Martian' soil – but there's a catch.
Why did Blue Origin leave so many female space reporters out of its big reveal?
Perfect Invisibility Cloaks May Actually Be Physically Impossible.
Scientists are the surprise stars of Facebook Live.
The Definitive Science of Super Mario.
Marvel's Agent Carter: Check Out the FX Behind Zero Matter.
Learn the Actual Science Behind Ghostbusters.
This Animated Particle Physics Book Isn't Just For Kids.
The Jesuit Priest Who Believed in God and the Singularity.
No, science is not faith-based.
The Chart of Cosmic Exploration Elegantly Details 56 Years of Human Adventures into Space.
Play This Puzzle Game to Help Program a Quantum Computer.
Half of inventions “arise unexpectedly” from serendipity—not directed research.
Nature Physics editorial charges physicists with failure to explain the LIGO advance properly.
An A-Z of Women Pushing Boundaries in Science and Tech. Related: 15 Works of Art Depicting Women in Science. Also: Nine Outstanding Women Working In Science And Technology. Bonus: The women who mapped the universe and brought America to the moon.
Orson Welles Hosted a NASA Documentary About Aliens in the '70s and It Is Amazing.
Finally, this 360 Video of the LHC Is an Amazing Reminder of How Big the Damn Thing Is.