Refrigeration using magnets rather than a vapor cycle (i.e., the same principals that make aerosol cans feel cold when you use them) makes for a huge jump in efficiency. Excuse the pun, but this is cool. Now we just have to find cheaper materials to do it with.
The National Ignition Facility, set to go online this week, will fuse hydrogen into helium, “releasing bursts of thermonuclear energy” (like stars). But, more importantly: the world’s most powerful laser!
I really like this article about how physics and math interact and drive each other. I think it also really illuminates how research that seems pointless and irrelevant can turn out to be incredibly important.
"Although a majority of the responding women physicists said they would choose physics again, a majority also reported being discouraged about physics. Many spoke about negative interaction with colleagues, including many stories about discriminatory attitudes."
I looked this up after noticing that a majority of my followers here (not that there are very many of you) appear to be female (as am I). I don’t know how old you all are, but are any of you considering a career in the hard sciences?
A neat little site about relativity that explains how gravity and time travel would work in 2-dimensional (as opposed to our 3-dimensional) space. It’s a good way to start to try to wrap your mind around relativity.
“After my father gave up on engineering, he said, ‘How about we compromise and go with physics? General relativity, quantum mechanics, you will love it.’ I thought I would give my father’s advice a try. I don’t know why. I never took his advice on anything else.”—
Murray Gell-Mann, winner of the 1969 Nobel Prize in Physics
I’ll admit I was never a big fan of the original Star Trek. I watched TNG and Voyager (never got into DS9) with my dad as a kid, but never saw the movies. I did go see the movie over the weekend, though, and thoroughly enjoyed it as long as I kept the sciencey part of my brain turned off. Pretty much everything having to do with supernovae and black holes was, uh…far-fetched would be putting it mildly. I think Bad Astronomy explains it better than I could, though, so click away.
At first I thought it was a joke. But I read part of the introduction and some of it sounded familiar. When I taught the astronomy lab in college (astro was basically a course for freshman liberal arts majors to fulfill their science requirement), I actually had a couple of students say things like “I don’t believe in equations.” I thought it was arrogant kids trying to justify not being able to do something, but I wonder if there’s something deeper going on here. Does anybody have any idea where this kind of attitude comes from?
“Warp drive or hyperdrive is a main stay of science fiction but there is current active theoretical work being done on it now. While the warp drive is purely theoretical, the thrust from an ion drive is quite realistic, and has recently been tested.”—Technology inspired by science fiction