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Showing posts from December, 2006

Our Phavorite Physics Stories of 2006

It's the end of the year, so it's time to reflect on the past twelve months. In case you’re already saturated with 2006 retrospectives, we’ll keep ours brief. These are all our own humble opinions of the special stories, of course. The Most Scientifically Important Physics story of 2006 . . . NASA's discovery of hard evidence for dark matter. Runner up to the Most Scientifically Important Physics story of 2006 . . . The (Re)Discovery of Elements 116 and 118. The Most Fun Physics story of 2006. . . The Ig Nobel Award for a study of why spaghetti breaks in more than two pieces when it is bent. Runner up to the Most Fun Physics story of 2006 . . . Bad Basketballs The Most Over Blown physics story . . . A cloaking device that got the press excited, but will probably never work on anything larger than a dust speck (which is pretty hard to see already). Runner up to the Most Over Blown physics story . . . The Eggcentric Universe. (I

How to tell if santa is real

As I was driving today the radio host I was listening to was talking about the results of a mall-santa survey that included questions like "how many of you have been peed on by a child?" (unfortunately that won't be the subject of this post), "how many of the children say they've been good?" etc. The question that caught my attention was this: Q: How many of you have your beard pulled on at least once a day? A: 90% Why do I find this interesting? The radio hosts were talking about how kids pull santa's beard to see if their santa - in the middle of nowhere Illinois or in downtown New York City - is real. It got me thinking about how people test whether something is real, which we have to do all the time in physics and in life. The tools we use to make these judgments develop and change over a person's life, at least they have over mine, but it's interesting to take a moment and think about what your tools are and where they've come from.