Archive for the ‘HUMOR’ Category

Video: Astronaut Plays Baseball in Outer Space

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Satoshi Furukawa plays a little ball on his own when he has free time.

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November 25, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Posted in HUMOR, SPACE

Muppets at the Large Hadron Collider

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November 23, 2011 at 5:50 pm

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Video: Snake Titanoboa meets the Mondo Spider

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November 19, 2011 at 7:03 pm


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Big Bang Theory fuels physics boom

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Interest in A-level and university courses rises as US comedy makes the subject “cool”
Mark Townsend – The Observer

The Big Bang Theory attracted more than 500,000 viewers on its return to Channel 4. Photograph: Channel 4

A cult US sitcom has emerged as the latest factor behind a remarkable resurgence of physics among A-level and university students.

The Big Bang Theory, a California-based comedy that follows two young physicists, is being credited with consolidating the growing appetite among teenagers for the once unfashionable subject of physics. Documentaries by Brian Cox have previously been mentioned as galvanising interest in the subject.

One pupil, Tom Whitmore, 15, from Brighton, acknowledged that Big Bang Theory had contributed to his decision, with a number of classmates, to consider physics at A-level, and in causing the subject to be regarded as “cool”. “The Big Bang Theory is a great show and it’s definitely made physics more popular. And disputes between classmates now have a new way of being settled: with a game of rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock,” he said.

Experts at the Institute of Physics (IoP) also believe the series is playing a role in increasing the number of physics students. Its spokesman, Joe Winters, said: “The rise in popularity of physics appears to be due to a range of factors, including Brian’s public success, the might of the Large Hadron Collider and, we’re sure, the popularity of shows like The Big Bang Theory.”

Alex Cheung, editor of, said: “There’s no doubt that TV has also played a role. The Big Bang Theory seems to have had a positive effect and the viewing figures for Brian Cox’s series suggest that millions of people in the UK are happy to welcome a physics professor, with a tutorial plan in hand, into their sitting room on a Sunday evening.”

According to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), there was a 10% increase in the number of students accepted to read physics by the university admissons services between 2008-09, when The Big Bang Theory was first broadcast in the UK, and 2010-11. Numbers currently stand at 3,672. Applications for physics courses at university are also up more than 17% on last year. Philip Walker, an HEFCE spokesman, said the recent spate of popular televisions services had been influential but was hard to quantify.

The number studying A-level physics has been on the rise for five years, up 20% in that time to around 32,860. Physics is among the top 10 most popular A-level topics for the first time since 2002 – and the government’s target of 35,000 students entering physics A-level by 2014 seems likely to be hit ahead of schedule. It is a far cry from 2005 when physics was officially classified as a “vulnerable” subject.

The number of those entered for AS level has also increased, by 27.8% compared with 2009, up from 41,955 to 58,190. The number of girls studying physics AS-level has risen a quarter to 13,540 and of boys by 28.6% to 44,650.

A Twitter debate on whether Big Bang Theory had played a role in encouraging more potential physicists provoked mixed reactions. PhD student Tim Green wrote: “I’d say it’s more to do with economics and good science docs than sitcoms with only the vaguest relation to physics.” Markela Zeneli said: “I think the show is hilarious, and it may make physicists seem nerdy and geeky, but what’s so bad about that? ”

Winters identified another more prosaic reason for the rising popularity of physics. He said: “TV shows and news coverage of exciting research both have the power to inspire their audiences but we firmly believe, and all the evidence suggests, that only good physics teaching has the power to convert student’s latent interest into action.”

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November 6, 2011 at 7:56 am


Pumpkin Chemistry

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So Halloween is over, what to do with all those pumpkins rotting on your doorstep?
Three chemists do their best to destroy pumpkins using all the tricks up their lab coat sleeves!

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November 1, 2011 at 9:04 am

Posted in Chemistry, HUMOR

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11/11/11, Portal to Another Universe?

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According to World News Forecast, 11:11am on 11/11/11 could, if Uri Geller is right, be a portal to another universe. This is from Geller’s web-page on the subject:

String theory is said to be the theory of everything. It is a way of describing every force and matter regardless of how large or small or weak or strong it is. There are a few eleven’s that have been found in string theory.

I find this to be interesting since this theory is supposed to explain the universe! The first eleven that was noticed is that string theory has to have 11 parallel universes (discussed in the beginning of the “11.11″ article) and without including these universes, the theory does not work.

The second is that Brian Greene has 11 letters in his name. For those of you who do not know, he is a physicist as well as the author of The Elegant Universe, which is a book explaining string theory. (His book was later made into a mini series that he hosted.) Another interesting find is that Isaac Newton (who’s ideas kicked off string theory many years later) has 11 letters in his name as well as John Schwarz. Schwarz was one of the two men who worked out the anomalies in the theory. Plus, 1 person + 1 person = 2 people = equality.

Whether or not a portal to another universe does open up, there will be a film opening that day about the topic, see here. In possibly related news, Brian Greene’s Fabric of the Cosmos series will start appearing on broadcast TV 11/2/11, with the first episode already available here if you are an iperson.

Peter Woit –

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October 26, 2011 at 7:59 am

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Cat physics – and we are not making this up

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Even falling and skulking cats obey the laws of physics, research shows

Even if a cat is dropped, it must obey the laws of physics.

Cats may skulk, and cats may fall – but no matter what they do, cats must obey the laws of physics. Scientists have tried repeatedly to figure out how they manage to do it.

At the extreme, physicists analysed what happens to a dropped cat. That’s a cat in free-fall, a cat hurtling earthwards with nothing but kitty cunning to keep it from crashing.

In 1969, TR Kane and MP Scher of Stanford University, in California, published a monograph called A Dynamical Explanation of the Falling Cat Phenomenon. It remains one of the few studies about cats ever published in the International Journal of Solids and Structures. Kane and Scher explain:

“It is well known that falling cats usually land on their feet and, moreover, that they can manage to do so even if released from complete rest while upside-down … numerous attempts have been made to discover a relatively simple mechanical system whose motion, when proceeding in accordance with the laws of dynamics, possesses the salient features of the motion of the falling cat. The present paper constitutes such an attempt.”

And what an attempt it is!

Kane and Scher neither lifted nor dropped a single cat. Instead, they created a mathematical abstraction of a cat: two imaginary cylinder-like chunks, joined at a single point so the parts could (as with a feline spine) bend, but not twist. When they used a computer to plot the theoretical bendings of this theoretical falling chunky-cat, the motions resembled what they saw in old photographs of an actual falling cat. They conclude that their theory “explains the phenomenon under consideration”.

In 1993, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, applied some heavier-duty mathematics and physics tools to the same question. Richard Montgomery’s study, called Gauge Theory of the Falling Cat, leaps and bends across 26 pages of a mathematics journal. Then it mutters that “the original solutions of Kane and Scher [are] both the optimal and the simplest solutions”.

But cats rarely fall from the sky. More commonly, they skulk. And skulking cats are just as provocative, to a physics-minded scientist, as plummeting cats.

In 2008, Kristin Bishop of the University of California, Davis, together with Anita Pai and Daniel Schmitt of Duke University in North Carolina, published a report called Whole Body Mechanics of Stealthy Walking in Cats, in the journal PLoS One.

They studied six cats, three of which “were partially shaved and marked with contrasting, non-toxic paint to aid in kinematic analysis”. They discovered “a previously unrecognised mechanical relationship” between “crouched postures”, “changes in footfall pattern”, and the amount of energy needed to produce those crouched-posture footfall patterns.

Cats that intend to skulk, in Bishop, Pai and Schmitt’s view, are hemmed in by the laws of the physical universe. They must make “a tradeoff between stealthy walking”, which uses a lot of energy, and plain old, energy-efficient cat-walking.

Video: Two of the above six cats…</span
• Marc Abrahams is editor of the bimonthly Annals of ImprobableResearch and organiser of the Ig Nobel prize

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October 18, 2011 at 1:15 pm


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NASA Satellite Falls On Car

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October 2, 2011 at 2:22 pm

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