By DAVID NG
First of all, I totally get it. You’re watching Super Friends or reading some Justice League of America comic book, and what do you see? Wonder Woman floating in mid air, in what is apparently an “invisible jet.” And for some reason, the fact that you know that it’s an invisible jet (because someone has gone to the trouble of outlining the jet with white phantom lines), is supposedly meant to make this OK.
Except that it doesn’t. You know this and I know this, and well, everybody knows this. Because the truth is: Wonder Woman looks kind of stupid floating in mid air. I mean, seriously, what is the point of having an invisible jet if the pilot—and a pilot wearing bright sparkly superhero colors—is so… well… visible?
So I get all the hate, I totally do.
But listen: I invented that invisible jet! That invisible jet is my research. It’s my baby.
And the reality is that the invisible jet was never meant to hide the pilot. It was just meant to be invisible on its own. If you don’t believe me, then by all means, look it up—my doctoral dissertation and my research publications are quite clear about this.
Wonder Woman totally got this. Actually, she was pretty amazing about it. She was like, “whoa… invisible jet… that’s pretty cool.” And then I was all like, “Yeah, but you know that it’s only the jet that goes invisible right? You know that you won’t be invisible when you sit inside it, right?” And she was like, “Yeah, I get it, but that’s OK, because well… invisible-freaking-jet!”
She basically said that it was totally fine to spend a whole bunch of her money on it because (a), it was a good way to support interesting science, and (b), well… it was just awesome.
Unfortunately, her Super Friends buddies were all idiots about it. They were all like, “Diana… you know we can still see you?” And Superman was prone to flying in a seated position and making steering motions and going, “look at me,.. who am I?” Meanwhile, Batman was all like “my utility belt is way cooler.”
But she knew what was going on. She knew that the reality was this: that the jet is a goddamn SCIENTIFIC MARVEL! Something that should be admired—because ingenuity, years of hard work, and significant research funds was all involved to develop that piece of technology.
Now, do I want to continue my research so that things entering the jet also become invisible? Sure—because that would also be pretty awesome. And maybe, one day, I will work on that research goal, and if I do, Wonder Woman is totally going to get first dibs on that piece of hardware.
Because listen, folks: this is how science works, one small step at a time. It’s not fast (like a speeding bullet), or able to make progress (in single bounds). It’s not about gimmicky quick fixes (like the kind you pack in a utility belt), and it takes serious investment (we’re not all caped billionaires with money for caves and batmobiles). This discovery stuff is slow and incremental, and that my friends, is the honest to goodness Lasso of Truth.
(Originally published at McSweeney’s)
This is remarkable for so many different reasons. Definitely worth watching. Definitely worth doing (going to see if I can mimic it in my lab with a large water basin).
By Physics Girl.
“As with many interventions intended to prevent ill health, the effectiveness of parachutes has not been subjected to rigorous evaluation by using randomised controlled trials. Advocates of evidence based medicine have criticised the adoption of interventions evaluated by using only observational data. We think that everyone might benefit if the most radical protagonists of evidence based medicine organised and participated in a double blind, randomised, placebo controlled, crossover trial of the parachute.”
Download the pdf here.
Love this – although disappointing that none were found…
ABSTRACT: Time travel has captured the public imagination for much of the past century, but little has been done to actually search for time travelers. Here, three implementations of Internet searches for time travelers are described, all seeking a prescient mention of information not previously available. The first search covered prescient content placed on the Internet, highlighted by a comprehensive search for specific terms in tweets on Twitter. The second search examined prescient inquiries submitted to a search engine, highlighted by a comprehensive search for specific search terms submitted to a popular astronomy web site. The third search involved a request for a direct Internet communication, either by email or tweet, pre-dating to the time of the inquiry. Given practical verifiability concerns, only time travelers from the future were investigated. No time travelers were discovered. Although these negative results do not disprove time travel, given the great reach of the Internet, this search is perhaps the most comprehensive to date.
By Robert J. Nemiroff and Teresa Wilson. Link to arXiv page.
The folks over at Urbana-based Electroninks Incorporated just launched a Kickstarter project for a new kind of pen that draws fuctional electronic circuits instantly. Called the Circuit Scribe, the handy little device works like a regular ballpoint pen and releases a non-toxic conductive silver ink that dries instantly.
And I quote:
“If, by some simple and possible means, such as the lessening of the Earth’s magnetic field, which now deflects most of the cosmic rays, they came through in great strength, evolution would go mad.”
From Amazing Stories, February, 1940. Via Fresh Photons.
Superposition 2013 (entitled Covariance) is a really intriguing looking installation by Lyndall Phelps and Ben Stills and is also now open for visiting (if you’re in London).
“And that’s the hope for our new project Superposition, enabling people to access and engage with physics through art and getting people to think (perhaps just for a minute) about the role physics plays in their lives and the world at large.
This pilot project pairs a physicist (Ben Still) with an artist (Lyndall Phelps) and challenges them to explore physics through the visual arts. The conversations that they have, the ideas that are sparked, and the experiences that they have, will be documented on this blog while the artwork that is conceived between them will be exhibited during the summer of 2013.”