Earthly/Geo/Astro · Human-ities · Science

Is our universe fine-tuned for the existence of life – or does it just look that way from where we’re sitting?

It can be unsettling to contemplate the unlikely nature of your own existence, to work backward causally and discover the chain of blind luck that landed you in front of your computer screen, or your mobile, or wherever it is that you are reading these words. For you to exist at all, your parents had to meet, and that alone involved quite a lot of chance and coincidence. If your mother hadn’t decided to take that calculus class, or if her parents had decided to live in another town, then perhaps your parents never would have encountered one another. But that is only the tiniest tip of the iceberg. Even if your parents made a deliberate decision to have a child, the odds of your particular sperm finding your particular egg are one in several billion. The same goes for both your parents, who had to exist in order for you to exist, and so already, after just two generations, we are up to one chance in 1027. Carrying on in this way, your chance of existing, given the general state of the universe even a few centuries ago, was almost infinitesimally small. You and I and every other human being are the products of chance, and came into existence against very long odds.

Excerpt from an article writen by Tim Maudlin at Aeon. Continue THERE

Blog-Sites · Education · Science

The Feynman Lectures on Physics AVAILABLE

Nearly fifty years have passed since Richard Feynman taught the introductory physics course at Caltech that gave rise to these three volumes, The Feynman Lectures on Physics. In those fifty years our understanding of the physical world has changed greatly, but The Feynman Lectures on Physics has endured. Feynman’s lectures are as powerful today as when first published, thanks to Feynman’s unique physics insights and pedagogy. They have been studied worldwide by novices and mature physicists alike; they have been translated into at least a dozen languages with more than 1.5 millions copies printed in the English language alone. Perhaps no other set of physics books has had such wide impact, for so long.

Click HERE

Design · Digital Media · Science · Technology

Paperscape: A map of 871,888 scientific papers from the arXiv until today

A chart of 870,000 scientific studies so far. Paperscape shows each scientific paper as a circle, with the size of each determined by how many others cite it. Users can toggle the heat map, which colors each study according to its age. ArXiv began in 1991. A cluster around the topic dark energy shows that it spans multiple fields, including quantum cosmology, quantum physics, and condensed matter.

The study of the universe is a universe itself. An infographic designed by two physicists maps the hundreds of thousands of studies in arXiv, an open repository for physics, mathematics, computer science, quantitative biology, finance, and statistics papers that is maintained by Cornell University. The category of a paper’s research determines the color of its circle, and the more cited the paper is, the bigger its circle. Each marker is placed according to the number of references it takes to get from it to each other paper. Accordingly, papers are clustered around topics, such as extrasolar planets, dwarf stars, and superconductivity. Some multicolored clusters show where disciplines intersect around topics like neutrinos, dark matter, dark energy, and networks. Toggle the heat map to color each study according to its age to see which topics are getting the most attention. To learn more about how the infographic works, see its blog.

Motion Graphics · Science · Theory


The familiar trigonometric functions can be geometrically derived from a circle.

But what if, instead of the circle, we used a regular polygon?

In this animation, we see what the “polygonal sine” looks like for the square and the hexagon. The polygon is such that the inscribed circle has radius 1.

We’ll keep using the angle from the x-axis as the function’s input, instead of the distance along the shape’s boundary. (These are only the same value in the case of a unit circle!) This is why the square does not trace a straight diagonal line, as you might expect, but a segment of the tangent function. In other words, the speed of the dot around the polygon is not constant anymore, but the angle the dot makes changes at a constant rate.

Since these polygons are not perfectly symmetrical like the circle, the function will depend on the orientation of the polygon.


Sculpt/Install · Shows · Technology

Light Show tricks meaning out of physics and biology

Light Show explores the experiential and phenomenal aspects of light by bringing together sculptures and installations that use light to sculpt and shape space in different ways. The exhibition showcases artworks created from the 1960s to the present day, including immersive environments, free-standing light sculptures and projections.

From atmospheric installations to intangible sculptures that you can move around and even through, visitors can experience light in all of its spatial and sensory forms. Individual artworks explore different aspects of light such as colour, duration, intensity and projection, as well as perceptual phenomena. They also use light to address architecture, science and film, and do so using a variety of lighting technologies.

Read Article: Light Show tricks meaning out of physics and biology.

Light Show runs at the Hayward Gallery, London, until 28 April.

Science · Videos

Water Bridge – Collective Molecular Dynamics

Water bridge – surprising phenomenon formed by water exposed to high voltage. This effect represent “Collective Molecular Dynamics”,

“Voeikov: Could the dynamics of formation of the water bridge be also at work in the process of formation of living structures?”

When a high voltage is applied to pure water filling two beakers kept close to each other, a connection forms spontaneously, giving the impression of a floating water bridge. This phenomenon is of special interest, since it comprises a number of phenomena currently tackled in modern water science. The formation and the main properties of this floating water bridge are analyzed in the conceptual framework of quantum electrodynamics.

Via Zyga, Lisa (2007-09-28). “Water forms floating ‘bridge’ when exposed to high voltage”. Science News. Retrieved 2007-09-29


Happy Restart of the Earth’s Tropical Orbital Period!

The year, of course, is the time it takes for the Earth to go around the Sun, right? Well, not exactly. It depends on what you mean by “year” and how you measure it. This takes a wee bit of explaining, so while the antacid is dissolving in your stomach to remedy last night’s excesses, sit back and let me tell you the tale of the year.

Excerpt from an article written by Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy, SLATE. Continue HERE

Bio · Human-ities · Science · Technology

Newly Discovered Particle Appears to Be Long-Awaited Higgs Boson

Prepare the fireworks: The discovery of the Higgs boson is finally here. Early in the morning on July 4, physicists with the Large Hadron Collider at CERN announced they have found a new particle that behaves similarly to what is expected from the Higgs.

“As a layman, I would now say, I think we have it,” said CERN director-general Rolf-Dieter Heuer. “It’s a historic milestone today. I think we can all be proud, all be happy.” Both CMS and ATLAS, the two main LHC Higgs-hunting experiments, are reporting a boson that has Higgs-like properties at a mass of 125 gigaelectronvolts (GeV) with a 5-sigma significance, meaning they are 99.999 percent confident of its existence.

Excerpt of an article written by Adam Mann at WIRED SCIENCE. Continue HERE

CERN Press Release: CERN experiments observe particle consistent with long-sought Higgs boson

Meeting the Boson Man: Professor Peter Higgs

Book-Text-Read-Zines · Human-ities · Philosophy · Science

Divine Machines: Leibniz and the Sciences of Life

“It is widely recognized that Leibniz’s philosophical thought is deeply influenced by the mathematics, physics and philosophical theology of his era. Justin E. H. Smith’s Divine Machines argues that many of Leibniz’s most central philosophical doctrines are similarly bound up with the life sciences of his time, where the “life sciences” are understood very broadly to include fields as diverse as alchemy, medicine, taxonomy, and paleontology. Smith’s groundbreaking exploration represents an important contribution to our understanding of both Leibniz’s philosophy and the study of life in the early modern era. It is to be recommended to historians, philosophers, and historians of philosophy alike. Below I highlight four central topics in Smith’s book, raising some reservations along the way.”

A review of Justin E. H. Smith’s Divine Machines: Leibniz and the Sciences of Life by Jeffrey K. McDonough. Read it HERE

Design · Technology · Videos

ZeroN, MIT student creates computer-controlled “magic” levitation

“What if materials could defy gravity, so that we could leave them suspended anywhere in mid-air? ZeroN is a new tangible interface element that can be levitated and moved freely by computer in a three dimensional space. Both the computer and people can move the ZeroN simultaneously. In doing so, people and computers can physically interact with one another in 3D space.

Users are invited to place or move the ZeroN just as they can place any other objects on surfaces. Once levitated, ZeroN’s behavior can be digitally programmed. For example, users can place the sun above physical objects to cast digital shadows, or place a planet that will start revolving based on simulated physical conditions.

ZeroN can remember how it has been moved. Physical motions of people can be collected in this medium to preserve and play them back indefinitely. When the users move release the ZeroN, it continues to float and starts to move along the same path. This allows a unique, tangible record of a user’s physical presence and motion which will continue to exist even after the death of the person.”

Text via Jinha Lee

Book-Text-Read-Zines · Philosophy · Science · Theory

Lawrence Krauss: another physicist with an anti-philosophy complex

Massimo Pigliucci writes:

I don’t know what’s the matter with physicists these days. It used to be that they were an intellectually sophisticated bunch, with the likes of Einstein and Bohr doing not only brilliant scientific research, but also interested, respectful of, and conversant in other branches of knowledge, particularly philosophy. These days it is much more likely to encounter physicists like Steven Weinberg or Stephen Hawking, who merrily go about dismissing philosophy for the wrong reasons, and quite obviously out of a combination of profound ignorance and hubris (the two often go together, as I’m sure Plato would happily point out). The latest such bore is Lawrence Krauss, of Arizona State University.

I have been ignoring Krauss’ nonsense about philosophy for a while, even though it had occasionally appeared on my Twitter or G+ radars. But the other day my friend Michael De Dora pointed me to this interview Krauss just did with The Atlantic, and now I feel obliged to comment, for the little good that it may do. And before I continue, kudos to Ross Andersen, who conducted the interview, for pressing Krauss on several of his non sequiturs. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Krauss is proud (if a bit coy) of the fact that Richard Dawkins referred to his latest book, entitled “A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather Than Nothing,” as comparable to Darwin’s “Origin of Species,” on the grounds that it upends the “last trump card of the theologian.” Well, leave it to Dawkins to engage in that sort of silly hyperbolic rhetoric. (Dawkins still appears to be convinced that religion will be defeated by rationality alone. Were that the case, David Hume would have sufficed.) The fact is, Krauss’s book is aimed at a general audience, popularizing other people’s (as well as his own) work, and is not the kind of revelation of novel scientific findings that Darwin put out in his opus, and that makes all the difference.

Continue at Rationally Speaking

Science · Theory

Where Do Space and Time Come From? New Theory Offers Answers, If Only Physicists Can Figure It Out

”Maybe we’re just too dumb,” Nobel laureate physicist David Gross mused in a lecture at Caltech two weeks ago. When someone of his level wonders whether the unification of physics will always be beyond mortal minds, it gets you worried. Since his lecture, I’ve been learning about a theory that seems to confirm Gross’s worry. It is so ridiculously hard that it could be the subject of an Onion parody. But at the same time, I’ve been watching how physicists are trying to power through their intimidation, because the theory promises a new way of understanding what space and time really are, at a deep level.

The theory was put forward in the late 1980s by Russian physicists Mikhail Vasiliev and the late Efin Fradkin of the Lebedev Institute in Moscow, but is so mathematically complex and conceptually opaque that whenever someone brought it up, most theorists started talking about the weather, soccer, reality TV—anything but that theory. It became a subject of polite conversation only in the past couple of years, as math whizzes who take a peculiar pleasure in impossible problems dove in and showed that the theory is not impossible to grasp, merely almost impossible.

Continue this article written by George Musser at Scientific American

Book-Text-Read-Zines · Human-ities · Science · Theory


An excerpt from a new book by Karoly Simonyi.

by Freeman Dyson

A Cultural History of Physics is a grand monument to the life of its author. Karoly Simonyi was teacher first, scholar second, and scientist third. His book likewise has three components. First a text, describing the history of science over the last four thousand years in a rich context of philosophy, art and literature. Second, a collection of illustrations, many of them taken from Hungarian archives and museums unknown to Western readers, giving concrete reality to historical events.Third an anthology of quotations from writers in many languages, beginning with Aeschylus in “Prometheus Bound”, describing how his hero brought knowledge and technical skills to mankind, and ending with Blaise Pascal in “Pensées”, describing how our awareness of our bodies and minds remains an eternal mystery. Different readers will have different preferences. For me, the quotations are the most precious part of the book. Dip anywhere among these pages, and you will find a quotation that is surprising and illuminating.

I have a vivid memory of my one meeting with the author. I came with his son Charles Simonyi to visit him in his home in Budapest. He had an amazing collection of books that had survived centuries of turbulent history. Several of them had bullet holes from the various battles that were fought in the neighboring streets. Many of them were historically important relics from the early days of printing. He proudly showed me these treasures, and even more proudly showed me the German edition of A Cultural History of Physics, which he had recently translated from the Hungarian original. I had only a few minutes to explore the beauties of this work, but I recognized it at once as a unique and magnificent achievement. Now it is finally available in English, and we can enjoy it at our leisure.

Thank you, Charles, for making this happen.

—Freeman Dyson
April 5, 2012

KÁROLY SIMONYI was a Hungarian scholar-educator and physicist, whose lectures, and the trilogy of his great books The Foundations of Electrical Engineering, The Physics of Electronics and Electromagnetic Theory founded an international invisible college in electrical and electronic engineering.

FREEMAN DYSON is Professor of Physics, Institute for Advanced Study; Author, Many Colored Glass; The Scientist as Rebel; Essayist, New York Review of Books.

More Info via EDGE

Earthly/Geo/Astro · Human-ities · Science · Theory

Geometry, Topology and Destiny by Mark Trodden

I’ve reached the cosmology part of my General Relativity (GR) course, and one of the early points that comes up is my traditional rant against confusing three very distinct concepts when thinking about the universe. Roughly stated, these are; What is the shape of the universe? Is the universe finite or infinite? and Will the universe expand forever or recollapse.

When we apply GR to cosmology, we make use of the simplifying assumptions, backed up by observations, that there exists a definition of time such that at a fixed value of time, the universe is spatially homogeneous (looks the same wherever the observer is) and isotropic (looks the same in all directions around a point). We then specialize to the most general metric compatible with these assumptions, and write down the resulting Einstein equations with appropriate sources (regular matter, dark matter, radiation, a cosmological constant, etc.). The solutions to these equations are the famous Friedmann, Robertson-Walker spacetimes, describing the expansion (or contraction) of the universe.

It is important to take a moment to emphasize what we have done here. GR is indeed a beautiful geometric theory describing curved spacetime. But practically, we are solving differential equations, subject to (in this case) the condition that the universe look the way it does today. Differential equations describe the local behavior of a system and so, in GR, they describe the local geometry in the neighborhood of a spacetime point.

Excerpt of an article written by Mark Trodden at DISCOVER. Continue HERE

Animalia · Digital Media · Motion Graphics · Technology

Fluid dynamics of brine shrimp (Artemia) larvae swimming like a butterfly

“The Brine Shrimp’s Butterfly Stroke.” From Brennan Johnson, Deborah Garrity, Lakshmi Prasad Dasi (Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA.)

Abstract: We investigate the fluid dynamics of brine shrimp larvae swimming in this gallery of fluid motion video. Time resolved particle image velocimetry was performed using nano-particles as seeding material to measure the time dependent velocity and vorticity fields. The Reynolds number of the flow was roughly 8 and the Womerseley number (ratio of periodic forcing to viscous forcing) was about 5. Vorticity dynamics reveals the formation of a vortex ring structure at the tip of each arm at the beginning of the power stroke. This two vortex system evolves dramatically with time as the stroke progresses. The outer circulation is noted to weaken while the inner circulation strengthens over the power stroke. The gaining strength of the inner vortex correlates with the acceleration and forward movement of the larvae.

Science · Technology

How a time cloak could change the past

Ever wish you could cover up an embarrassing event? By getting your hands on a time cloak, you could make it seem like it never happened.

Now, a new animation by Moti Fridman and his team at Cornell University, who have developed a technology that can hide superfast events, demonstrates how such a device would work. It shows how a stealthy ball can sneak by a laser beam thanks to a series of light tricks that mask an event over a specific period of time.

The demo shows how manipulating the laser beam creates an opportune time gap. Laser pulses, shown in red, break the signal beam, denoted in green, into a rainbow of different wavelengths that travel at different speeds. This change creates an opening in the beam where the ball can pass. The effect is then reversed with another pulse of light to make the change undetectable.

So far, the team has used the effect to edit out 15 picoseconds as a light beam passed through filters. However, the technique could be developed for a range of applications, for example to hide data moving through fiber optic cables to prevent eavesdropping.

To find out more about the technology, read our full blog post. If you enjoyed this video, check out how to build a time machine or see why the past and the future are the same.

Text via New Scientist
Image via IBT

Blog-Sites · Digital Media · Motion Graphics · Sonic/Musical

Jasper Elings

Behold Jasper Elings. We love Animated Giffs that defy the laws of physics.

…specially if they are accompanied by a minimally hypnotic soundtrack:


Jasper Elings

Digital Media · Earthly/Geo/Astro · Science

Our Planet, Tangled in Magnetic Spaghetti

OK, so it’s not real spaghetti — it’s a computer visualization of the complex magnetic field that creates Earth’s magnetosphere — but it sure looks tangled.

Using the awesome power of a Cray XT5 Jaguar supercomputer, a team of space physicists are unlocking some of the biggest mysteries surrounding how the sun’s magnetic field interacts with our planet’s magnetosphere. They basically want to understand what happens when global magnetic fields become tangled to the extreme.

Space physicists categorize these interactions under “space weather,” and they are responsible for some of the Earth’s most powerful (and beautiful) atmospheric events.

“When a storm goes off on the sun, we can’t really predict the extent of damage that it will cause here on Earth. It is critical that we develop this predictive capability,” said Homa Karimabadi, a space physicist at the University of California-San Diego (UCSD).

Written by Ian O’Neill, WIRED. Continue HERE

Science · Technology · Videos

Viscous thread falling on a moving belt

A stream of very viscous syrup falls from a nozzle onto a moving belt. Initially, the belt is moving so fast that the thread is just pulled out straight. As the speed of the belt is reduced, the thread first bifurcates to a meandering state, and then to a “figure eight” state. Finally, the thread falls into a coiling motion similar to what it would do on a non-moving surface.

The syrup is Newtonian.