Culture doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
When we go to art galleries or see plays or listen to music, we invariably do it in the company of other people. We will often have dinner or a drink before, after, or even during the performance (whether in the interval or not).
Art abhors a vacuum
And not much improves [...]... Read more »
Naiping Hu, Dan Wu, Kelly Cross, Sergey Burikov, Tatiana Dolenko, Svetlana Patsaeva, & Dale W. Schaefer. (2010) Structurability: A Collective Measure of the Structural Differences in Vodkas. J. Agric. Food Chem. info:/10.1021/jf100609c
When I came across this post "Medical Advice for Headbangers" on Boing Boing today, I couldn't help but click through to read the paper. What I found was a pun-fest of scholarly research, and I'm left intensely curious about who funded this research. Ironically enough, at the time I came across the post I was listening to an auto-swung version of Metallica's "Enter the Sandman" (songs run through a rather neat Python script to swing them*).When Toaster was a young whelp in The Ozarks, it event........ Read more »
Patton, D., & McIntosh, A. (2008) Head and neck injury risks in heavy metal: head bangers stuck between rock and a hard bass. BMJ, 337(dec17 2). DOI: 10.1136/bmj.a2825
If you're Dr. Kate Jones of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, the answer is very.Inside of a nucleus, just like for the electrons in an atom, there are discrete energy levels into which the neutrons and protons can arrange themselves. In chemistry, this behavior - in electrons - leads to the periodic table: different elements behave in different ways chemically because of the number of electrons they have. More precisely, what matters is the number of electrons outside of a closed shell......... Read more »
Jones, K., Adekola, A., Bardayan, D., Blackmon, J., Chae, K., Chipps, K., Cizewski, J., Erikson, L., Harlin, C., Hatarik, R.... (2010) The magic nature of 132Sn explored through the single-particle states of 133Sn. Nature, 465(7297), 454-457. DOI: 10.1038/nature09048
Richard Feyman once remarked “if you think you understand quantum mechanics, then you don’t understand quantum mechanics” and virtually every cutting edge experiment in the field seems to prove him right. Well, to be fair, physicists understand quite a bit about quantum mechanics but there are still quite a few mysteries to clarify including that of quantum entanglement. [...]... Read more »
Salart, D., Baas, A., Branciard, C., Gisin, N., & Zbinden, H. (2008) Testing the speed of ‘spooky action at a distance’. Nature, 454(7206), 861-864. DOI: 10.1038/nature07121
The title of both this note and the paper it discusses is inspired by a 1970s classic paper by Nobel Laureate Edward Purcell on Life at low Reynolds number. With simple physics, that paper gave insights about micro-organisms (bacteria, sperms … Continue reading →... Read more »
van de Meent JW, Tuval I, & Goldstein RE. (2008) Nature's microfluidic transporter: rotational cytoplasmic streaming at high Péclet numbers. Physical review letters, 101(17), 178102. PMID: 18999789
Via Jennifer Ouellette on Twitter, I ran across a Discovery News story touting a recent arxiv preprint claiming to see variation in the fine-structure constant. It's a basically OK story, but garbles a few details, so I thought it would be worth giving it the ResearchBlogging treatment, in the now-traditional Q&A format.
What did they do? The paper looks at some spectral lines in radio emission from a moderately distant galaxy with the poetic name "PKS1413+135." These lines are produced by ........ Read more »
Nissim Kanekar, Jayaram N. Chengalur, & Tapasi Ghosh. (2010) Probing fundamental constant evolution with redshifted conjugate-satellite OH lines. Astrophysical Journal Letters. arXiv: 1004.5383v1
Somehow this never occurred to me before, but nanoparticles don’t have to be made from metals or other inorganics. They can even be biodegradable. It’s something you tend to forget when you keep reading papers about how metal oxide nanoparticles penetrate cells and catalyze the formation of free radicals or whatever. But of course there [...]... Read more »
Guo, P., Martin, C., Zhao, Y., Ge, J., & Zare, R. (2010) General Method for Producing Organic Nanoparticles Using Nanoporous Membranes. Nano Letters, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1021/nl101057d
Dark matter is like the Rome of astronomy, all observations lead to dark matter. The problem is that physicists and astronomers, don't know what it actually is. The observations which support dark matter come from many different independent observations, so it is not just some observational error. The observations which corroborate the dark matter paradigm make for a fantastic discussion, but for right now I would like to focus on explanations for what dark matter may be. Specifically, what kin........ Read more »
Abdo, A., Ackermann, M., Ajello, M., Atwood, W., Baldini, L., Ballet, J., Barbiellini, G., Bastieri, D., Baughman, B., Bechtol, K.... (2010) Spectrum of the Isotropic Diffuse Gamma-Ray Emission Derived from First-Year Fermi Large Area Telescope Data. Physical Review Letters, 104(10). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.104.101101
Feng, J., Kaplinghat, M., & Yu, H. (2010) Halo-Shape and Relic-Density Exclusions of Sommerfeld-Enhanced Dark Matter Explanations of Cosmic Ray Excesses. Physical Review Letters, 104(15). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.104.151301
Bad Science examples from the media: Indian Express, April 29, 2010 Ice asteroids likely source of Earth’s water: Study Astronomers have for the first time detected ice and organic compounds on an asteroid, a pair of landmark studies. The discovery … Continue reading →... Read more »
Meli, V., Ghosh, S., Prabha, T., Chakraborty, N., Chakraborty, S., & Datta, A. (2010) Enhancement of fruit shelf life by suppressing N-glycan processing enzymes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(6), 2413-2418. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0909329107
A practical example from ophthalmic optics research to convince readers on the importance of expending money in basic research... and more ... Read more »
Tabernero, J., Benito, A., Alcón, E., & Artal, P. (2007) Mechanism of compensation of aberrations in the human eye. Journal of the Optical Society of America A, 24(10), 3274. DOI: 10.1364/JOSAA.24.003274
When it comes to chemistry, surfaces are the places to be. Where two phases meet, interesting stuff is bound to happen. One of the phase interactions that received increased attention during the last few years is the peculiar meeting of a liquid and a solid. One rather interesting phenomenon encountered here is the lotus effect, [...]... Read more »
Voïtchovsky, K., Kuna, J., Contera, S., Tosatti, E., & Stellacci, F. (2010) Direct mapping of the solid–liquid adhesion energy with subnanometre resolution. Nature Nanotechnology. DOI: 10.1038/NNANO.2010.67
It’s well-known that many liquid metals can be cooled below their freezing point. This is, scientists assume, due to dense and symmetric, but non-periodic ordering within the liquid. This theory implies that the freezing point of supercooled metal liquids can be controlled, just like crystallization can be induced by a template – all it takes [...]... Read more »
Schülli, T., Daudin, R., Renaud, G., Vaysset, A., Geaymond, O., & Pasturel, A. (2010) Substrate-enhanced supercooling in AuSi eutectic droplets. Nature, 464(7292), 1174-1177. DOI: 10.1038/nature08986
The archerfish’s long distance spitting can fire a bug off of a branch and send it down to the water’s surface, and the nearly-blind pistol shrimp uses its gigantic claw to stun its prey with a bubble nearly as hot as the Sun. However, if the archerfish didn’t have keen eyes enabling it to detect an insect against a vegetative background, and if the pistol shrimp lacked its protective eye covers, called orbital hoods, these animals might never have developed the ballistic mechanisms that ........ Read more »
Temple, S., Hart, N., Marshall, N., & Collin, S. (2010) A spitting image: specializations in archerfish eyes for vision at the interface between air and water. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2010.0345
Anker, A., Ahyong, S., Noël, P., & Palmer, A. (2006) MORPHOLOGICAL PHYLOGENY OF ALPHEID SHRIMPS: PARALLEL PREADAPTATION AND THE ORIGIN OF A KEY MORPHOLOGICAL INNOVATION, THE SNAPPING CLAW. Evolution, 60(12), 2507. DOI: 10.1554/05-486.1
Nature Publishing Group (NGP), perhaps, has a tradition every year in April to produce a new magazine. This year this is Nature Communications — a multidisciplinary online-only journal. Moreover, this is second NPG multidisciplinary journal, 140 years after the first issue of Nature.
Science is now more multidisciplinary than ever – new fields are emerging from [...]... Read more »
I'm teaching a junior/senior level elective this term on quantum mechanics. We're using Townsend's A Modern Approach to Quantum Mechanics, which starts with spin-1/2 and develops the whole theory in terms of state vectors and matrices. This is kind of an uneasy fit for me, as I'm very much a swashbuckling experimentalist, and not as comfortable with formal mathematics.
This occasionally leads to good things, though, such as Monday's class, on photon polarizations. the book uses some vector arit........ Read more »
Beth, R. (1936) Mechanical Detection and Measurement of the Angular Momentum of Light. Physical Review, 50(2), 115-125. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRev.50.115
Anyone who has seriously studied an empirical or mathematical science knows there is something very special about how those studies affect the way we view the world. There is something very profound feeling in the way our minds works after we’ve been exposed to logical and testable systems, and it enters into almost [...]... Read more »
Note: This entry is a bit different from most of my posts. It is more mathematical, and uses MathML extensively to display equations. If you see gibberish instead of equations, then your browser isn't capable of viewing them. If you...... Read more »
Geraci, A., Smullin, S., Weld, D., Chiaverini, J., & Kapitulnik, A. (2008) Improved constraints on non-Newtonian forces at 10 microns. Physical Review D, 78(2). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.78.022002
*Not to be confused with the hit song by Survivor.
The vent shrimp Rimicaris exoculata (literally the Rift-shrimp deprived of eyes) swarms hydrothermal chimneys, with temperatures reaching over 350 C, en masse in the darkness of the deep sea. It has a certain peculiarity in that its eyes are completely absent yet there is a high [...]... Read more »
Nuckley, D., Jinks, R., Battelle, B., Herzog, E., Kass, L., Renninger, G., & Chamberlain, S. (1996) Retinal Anatomy of a New Species of Bresiliid Shrimp from a Hydrothermal Vent Field on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Biological Bulletin, 190(1), 98-110. DOI: 10.2307/1542679
Pelli, D., & Chamberlain, S. (1989) The visibility of 350 C black-body radiation by the shrimp Rimicaris exoculata and man. Nature, 337(6206), 460-461. DOI: 10.1038/337460a0
Thunderstorms are epic demonstrations of nature that can be quite fascinating when they aren't terrifying. The study of thunderstorms, in particular lightning, is of obvious practical interest, but also there is also a purely aesthetic and amusing aspect to them.... Read more »
Siingh, D., Singh, A., Patel, R., Singh, R., Singh, R., Veenadhari, B., & Mukherjee, M. (2009) Thunderstorms, Lightning, Sprites and Magnetospheric Whistler-Mode Radio Waves. Surveys in Geophysics, 29(6), 499-551. DOI: 10.1007/s10712-008-9053-z
The universe as we know it is mostly empty, with light years separating most stars and great voids stretching for millions of light years between large galaxies. But there was also a major chunk of the universe missing, a chunk to the tune of 90% which physics said should be there and yet, no telescope [...]... Read more »
Hayes, M., Östlin, G., Schaerer, D., Mas-Hesse, J., Leitherer, C., Atek, H., Kunth, D., Verhamme, A., de Barros, S., & Melinder, J. (2010) Escape of about five per cent of Lyman-α photons from high-redshift star-forming galaxies. Nature, 464(7288), 562-565. DOI: 10.1038/nature08881
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