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Showing posts from March, 2011

IOP's Video Take on the Sights & Sounds at the APS March Meeting

A multimedia crew from the Institute of Physics was at the March Meeting in Dallas, capturing some of the sights and sounds of the week devoted to physics. Here's the first in a series of videos filmed at the meeting:

[This video "Noted and quoted: on the record at the APS March Meeting" comes from the Institute of Physics' website.]

Learning Physics Through Molten Chocolate Cake

Imagine learning about the physics of heat transfer by baking your own molten chocolate cake in an abandoned chemistry laboratory. That's what students at Harvard University did last year in a course devoted to teaching science through cooking. One of the course's instructors gave an overview of the program at the 2011 APS March Meeting.

[This lecture, called "Heat, Temperature and Chocolate," is the fifth in the series available on YouTube.]

Several hundred people packed the room for the "Science of Cooking: Motivating the Study of Freshman Physics" talk given by Harvard's David Weitz.

In the course, students (who sometimes had no science background) learned about science through cooking in an unused Harvard chemistry lab that was turned into a "food lab." There, plates and cutting boards replaced petri dishes and test tubes.

Students baked molten chocolate cake during one lecture to get a better understanding of heat transfer. The students u…

News and Photos from the 2011 APS March Meeting

Nobel Laureate Konstantin Novoselov speaks during a press conference at the 2011 APS March Meeting. Novoselov, who in 2010 won a Nobel Prize for his work on graphene, spoke to a capacity crowd Wednesday night at the Dallas Convention Center.

As the 2011 annual APS March Meeting comes to a close in Dallas, here's a look back at some of the sights from the meeting as well as links to a few talks that made news over the last week:

Curry powder molecule 'is cheap sensor for explosives' by BBC News.

Diamond could store quantum information from Science News.

'Small modular reactors' hold sway in US nuclear future by BBC News.

Silicene: It could be the new graphene from Science News.

Most superheroes get science right, physics professor says at opening of Dallas science conference from The Dallas Morning News.

An audience member in a cowboy hat listens to the lecture about "The Science of Barbecue (Texas Style)" on Tuesday morning at the 2011 APS March Meeting.


The High Water Mark of American Science

By Quantum and Flash Modin

In the 1980s the Department of Energy started to design what would have been the biggest science experiment in the world, the Superconducting Super Collider. Waxahachie, Texas was all set to host a particle accelerator that would have dwarfed Switzerland's Large Hadron Collider, today's reigning champ. Construction began in 1991, then was abruptly canceled in 1993.

The SSC was designed to collide protons and anti-protons at energies of 40 TeV, today the LHC can only ever hope to reach 14 TeV. The LHC has tunnels 17 miles in circumference; the SSC would have been more than 54 miles.

Congress pulled the plug in 1993 for a couple reasons. The projected budget swelled from about $4.4 billion to $12 billion. Political support for the project had always been shaky, and it essentially came down to whether Congress wanted to fund the International Space Station, or the SSC. The ISS won out.

Today the old SSC site sits rusting away. No one wants to buy the dereli…

The Khan Academy -- Virtual Cliffs Notes for Math & Physics (& More!)

Have you ever been stumped by the nuances of your physics, statistics or calculus books? Maybe having a better understanding of some of the basics that never quite sunk in would help.

[Joshua A. Dijksman gave a talk earlier this week about the Khan Academy at the 2011 APS March Meeting.]

Earlier in the week, Joshua A. Dijksman gave a talk about the Khan Academy -- a website that offers a "free world-class education for anyone anywhere," according to the site. The Academy's most prominent feature is its video library consisting of over 2,100 educational videos.

Like a sort of online collection of Cliffs Notes for hard-to-grasp subjects, the video library includes videos that are about 10 minutes long each covering about 40 subjects including physics, developmental math, calculus, statistics, differential equations and many more. During each video, a narrator simultaneously explains concepts while drawing pictures or equations on a computer sketch pad.

The videos are educat…

A Robotic Re-creation of Philip K. Dick

David Hanson is a part-time engineer, part-time artist and full-time lover of artificial intelligence. He, along with his robot reincarnation of science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, made the rounds today at the APS March Meeting in Dallas.

["Phil," Hanson's robotic re-creation of science fiction writer Philip K. Dick propped up in the last row, startled passers-by with his human looks and his brain of wires.]

Hanson said he chose to make an analogue of Dick because, in his writings, Dick portrayed robots that came to life and thought they were human.

[Audience members turn to get a look at Phil, Hanson's robot that was propped up in the last row, who blended in with the rest of the crowd. On the screen at the front of the room is a photo of the original Phil who was accidentally left in an airplane overhead and lost forever, Hanson said.]

[Phil, Hanson's android that was propped up in the last row, appears to watch his creator's presentation during a morning s…

Opening Day at the APS March Meeting

Today is day one of the annual APS March Meeting, held this year in Dallas, Texas. Here are some sights and sounds from the first day of the meeting.

[Just after breakfast, meeting attendees checked in at the pre-registered booths.]

[APS' Mike Lucibella leads speaks about "How to Talk Science to Homer Simpson" during one of the first sessions of the day.]

[Meeting attendees take advantage of large window ledges and free wi-fi at the Dallas Convention Center.]

[A look from above in one of the convention centers open gathering areas.]

[Some attendees gather in the afternoon Dallas sunshine between sessions.]

[APS' Becky Thompson talks about comic books at the APS outreach booth.]

[Speaker Walt deHeer from the Georgia Institute of Technology is interviewed by journalists from the Institute of Physics for]

Professor Splash Sets a New World Record

Yesterday, in Norway, U.S. professional stunt diver Darren Taylor, a.k.a. Professor Splash, broke his own Guinness world record when he dove 36 ft (about 11 meters) into a shallow children's pool filled with only 12 inches (about 30.5 cm) of water.

In the video, you can see that Professor Splash does, basically, a belly flop into the pool. Though it looks painful, it's essential to his surviving the feat.

Doing a belly flop helped to distribute the pressure of the impact more equally across his body so that no one area received an extreme amount of pressure.The same thing happens when an airbag deploys during a car crash. The airbag makes contact with a large part of your body and helps to distribute the pressure more equally. Had the professor done a cannon ball, the pressure of the water would have acted on a much smaller area and packed a more targeted punch, just like a seatbelt restrains you along one line across your chest during a sudden stop. While a seatbelt help…

2011 March Meeting Videos & Images

The 2011 APS March Meeting, an annual meeting held every - you guessed it - March, starts next Monday in Dallas! Almost 7,000 speakers will give talks on everything from statistical and non-linear physics to fluids to biological physics to physics in education and more.

Check out some of the prettiest pictures and most exciting videos to be featured in talks at the upcoming meeting in the Virtual Press Room Image Gallery & Video Gallery.

Here are a few samples from the galleries:

Syrup Falling on Waffles
This computer simulation shows how a thick fluid behaves when falling on a moving conveyor belt. It also simulates the extremely complicated movement of hair and shows how a gooey fluid would behave when draped over objects, like syrup being poured on waffles.

Swimming Diode
A diode is an object that conducts electric current in only one direction. Powering a diode with an alternating current (AC) electric field causes the diode in this video to pump water over its surface, propel…