Tag: physics

An installation to blend particle physics with art.

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.”

For more info, visit www.physics.org/Superposition/. Via My Modern Met.

Photos of my kids as projectiles suspended in the peak of their parabolic trajectory (a.k.a. they look like they’re levitating)

Just a couple pictures from our summer.  Locales in order are: London’s Natural History Museum; Howth, Ireland; Harry Potter Studios, Leavesden; Chester Cathedral; Chester town center; Mam Tor summit, Peak District; Lyme Park, Derbyshire; Lille, France; and one of us parents in Lyme Park.










Quantum Proctology explained (sort of).


By Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, via Fresh Photons

In which the Higgs Boson calls a press conference #funny

Great humour piece by Sarah Rosenshine. Below is the first paragraph, and I’ve posted it here for archival purposes, but definitely, definitely go read it over at McSweeney’s.

“All right, you found me. Like a subatomic Carmen Sandiego, here I am. Oh, that joke is dated? I’m sorry, everything past the Stone Age is current when you were here at the beginning of time. So please, spare me your inability to comprehend temporal relativity.

Look, I didn’t call you all to the Garden Inn, Geneva so I could trade barbs with CNN’s lone Science and Technology Correspondent. No, I called this press conference for one reason: to ask that you please stop calling me the God Particle.”

Read more.

Illustrations from vintage children’s book on magnets by Cynthia Amrine

magnets01 magnets03 magnets02

By Cynthia Amrine, via Fresh Photons (Can’t find attribution but would love to know who the artist is) Thanks to first4magnets.com for tracking down the artist!

This re-imagining of the periodic table by LIFE magazine is gorgeous.


(Click image for hi-res version).

From LIFE Magazine (1949), via io9

Axis-tilt: is the reason for the season. #awesome


Photo source unknown, via Fresh Photons

Lightning photo PLUS lightning photo PLUS math EQUALS #verycool









Analysis by Richard Wheeler. Pics by chordnine and Bobo1010

Best physics related cat figure ever!


Via Fresh Photons.

Snakes on a (mathematical) plane


By ~bananagram, via IFLS.

Asteroids are nature’s way of asking: How’s that space program coming along?

Phew! That was close…



Top graphic source unknown (but via Fresh Photons). Bottom graphic via NASA (great link explaining the recent flyby).

Sine wave vibration induced water flow captured on film #whoa

This is pretty wild.


From the Youtube description:

“Ever since I created the first version of this video a year ago I’ve been wanting to try it again with more water and better lighting / footage. This is a really fun project and when you first see the results, chances are your jaw will drop. The main thing to keep in mind for this project is that you need a camera that shoots 24 fps.

The effect that you are seeing can’t be seen with the naked eye. The effect only works through the camera. However, there is a version of the project you can do where the effect would be visible with the naked eye. For that project, you’d have to use a strobe light.

For this project you’ll need:

A powered speaker
Water source
Soft rubber hose
Tone generating software
24 fps camera

Run the rubber hose down past the speaker so that the hose touches the speaker. Leave about 1 or 2 inches of the hose hanging past the bottom of the speaker. Secure the hose to the speaker with tape or whatever works best for you. The goal is to make sure the hose is touching the actual speaker so that when the speaker produces sound (vibrates) it will vibrate the hose.

Set up your camera and switch it to 24 fps. The higher the shutter speed the better the results. But also keep in the mind that the higher your shutter speed, the more light you need. Run an audio cable from your computer to the speaker. Set your tone generating software to 24hz and hit play.Turn on the water. Now look through the camera and watch the magic begin. If you want the water to look like it’s moving backward set the frequency to 23hz. If you want to look like it’s moving forward in slow motion set it to 25hz.

Text and film by Brusspup, via Colossal

The monument to Sir Isaac Newton that never came to be. #whoa

This would have been something else, if it came to pass.


“In an anonymous letter to the London Times in 1825, Thomas Steele of Magdalen College, Cambridge, proposed enshrining Isaac Newton’s residence in a stepped stone pyramid surmounted by a vast stone globe. The physicist himself had died more than a century earlier, in 1727, and lay in Westminster Abbey, but Steele felt that preserving his home would produce a monument ‘not unworthy of the nation and of his memory'”

Text and via Futility Closet.

Paint plus centrifugal force equals remarkable artwork






By Fabian Oefner, via Colossal

In which it is calculated that a spider’s web is actually strong enough to stop a train.

This, from the Journal of Physics Special Topics.


In Spiderman 2 there is a scene in which Spiderman stops a runaway train using his webbing to provide a counter-force. Using the information available this paper examines the material properties of the webbing under these conditions and finds the Young’s modulus to be 3.12GPa, a reasonable value for spider silk.

In the early sixties Marvel Comics first introduced Spiderman; a superhero with the abilities and scaled strength of a spider. In a recent movie incarnation, Spiderman has the ability to sling webs from spinnerets located in his wrists. These webs have been shown to be capable of taking great amounts of strain, and have displayed a high level of adhesiveness. Arguably the greatest test of these webs is found in the 2004 movie, Spiderman 2; wherein Spiderman manages to bring a runaway train to a stop by sticking multiple webs to adjacent buildings, and bracing himself on the front of the train until it comes to a rest just before dropping into a river [1]. In this paper we attempt to model the forces upon the webbing in such a situation, and compare it to measured values of the Youngs modulus and yield strengths of real spider’s web.

Download the paper here.

Holy crap! This Polar Bear Hot Air Balloon is Fantastic!



Source unknown. From The Cool Hunter, via Thinx.

Best physics related marriage proposal ever!


By Redditor bogus_wheel, via Boing Boing.

This counts as one of the most riveting videos I’ve ever seen #curiosity #watchitnow via @BenLillie

I bet those 7 minutes must have been terrifying. Oh, and science FTW!!!

Via @BenLillie

Welcome Time Travellers! (or more evidence against time travel)

“I sat there a long time,” he said, “but no one came.”

These were words that Stephen Hawking uttered upon observing an apparent no show of time travellers to his “time traveler party.” This was held on June 28, 2009, although the event was only advertised after this date (of course). As well, this sort of counts as indirect evidence against time traveling in general…

Via Futility Closet

If you ever need the schematics for constructing a roller coaster that will kill you by the end of its ride…




Euthanasia Coaster is a hypothetic euthanasia machine in the form of a roller coaster, engineered to humanely – with elegance and euphoria – take the life of a human being. Riding the coaster’s track, the rider is subjected to a series of intensive motion elements that induce various unique experiences: from euphoria to thrill, and from tunnel vision to loss of consciousness, and, eventually, death.”

Proposed details include:

Euthanasia, execution

Height: 510 m
Drop lenght: 500 m
Track length: 7544 m

Lift: 120 s
Drop: 10 s
Exposure to 10 g: 60 s
Total: 3:20

Max speed: 100m/s
Inversions: 7
Max g-force: 10 g

Cause of death:
Cerebral hypoxia, lack of oxygen supply to the brain.

Additional effects:
Greyout – loss of color vision;
Tunnel vision – loss of peripheral vision;
Blackout – complete loss of vision;
G-LOC – g-force induced Loss Of Consciousness.

By Julijonas Urbonas, via Thinx


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