BuzzSkyline writes: "For years in the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. federal government spent millions stocking fallout shelters for the Soviet atomic attack that never came. But what exactly was the government putting in there? Physics Buzz blogger Quantum takes a look at some of the retro Geiger counters, dosimeters and radiation detectors the U.S. Office of Civil Defense sent to thousands of fallout shelters across the country."
BuzzSkyline writes: "Fermilab physicists claim to have discovered evidence of new physics in the same LHC data that revealed the existence of a Higgs-like boson. While the Higgs potentially fills in the final piece of the Standard Model puzzle that describes the known fundamental particles, PhysicsBuzz is reporting that papers soon to be posted to the arXiv preprint server argue that the LHC data also show that the Top Quark has a partner predicted by the powerful, but previously unproven, theory of Supersymmetry. If true, the theory may solve the mystery of dark matter, explain why gravity is so weak, and presage the discovery of a whole host of supersymmetric particles."
BuzzSkyline writes: "Astronauts Don Pettit and Dan Burbank aboard the International Space Station took some time out to cobble together a didgeridoo from the ISS vacuum cleaner hoses. Skip to 1:30 to see Pettit mangle an official ISS crew shirt to look more like an authentic didgeridoo player (or at least what he thinks one should look like)."
BuzzSkyline writes: "Astronaut Don Pettit has posted another video he made aboard the International Space Station. This time, he's shaking up water drops with sound waves, including the waves produced in the classic tune TV Dinners by ZZ Top."
BuzzSkyline writes: "Astronaut Don Pettit, who is aboard the International Space Station (ISS) right now, put charged water droplets into wild orbits around a knitting needle in the microgravity environment of the ISS. A video he made of the droplets is the first in a serious of freefall physics experiments that he will be posting in coming months."
BuzzSkyline writes: "Physics Buzz is reporting, "Just weeks after speeding neutrinos seem to have broken the speed of light, another universal law, the fine structure constant might be about to crumble." Astronomical observations seem to indicate that the constant, which controls the strength of electromagnetic interactions, is different in distant parts of the universe. Among other things, the paper may explain why the laws of physics in our corner of the universe seem to be finely tuned to support life. The research is so controversial that it took over a year to go from submission to publication in Physical Review Letters, rather than the weeks typical of most other papers appearing in the peer-reviewed journal."
BuzzSkyline writes: "A few minutes in a high magnetic field (1.3 Tesla) is enough to thin blood by 30%, potentially leading to a new drug-free therapy to prevent heart attacks. The powerful field causes blood cells to line up in chains that flow much more easily than randomly-scattered individual cells, according to research scheduled to appear this month in the journal Physical Review E."
BuzzSkyline writes: "A group of physicists went AWOL from the American Physical Society conference in Dallas this week to explore the ruins of the nearby Superconducting Super Collider. The SSC was to be the world's largest and most ambitious physics experiment. It would have been bigger than the LHC and run at triple the energy. But the budget ran out of control and the project was scrapped in 1993."
BuzzSkyline writes: Students at UCLA have made the startling discovery that some bacteria can walk on surfaces using structures called Type IV pili as legs. Previously, it was generally believed that bacteria needed to be embedded in fluids to move around significantly. The revelation helps explain the spread of biofilms, and shows why some some bacteria can be particularly dangerous. The professor overseeing the research believes that disabling or lopping off the bacteria legs may offer a novel route to fight infections caused by walking bacteria. The article describing the research has some pretty freaky video of bacteria standing up on one end and walking away.
BuzzSkyline writes: It's better to pour Champagne the way a good bartender draws a beer, by running it down the inside surface of the glass. The revelation, which appears in July 2010 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, flies in the face of age-old French traditions, which require the bubbly to be poured in a stream that free-falls straight down the center of a champagne flute. By using infrared thermography to image the carbon dioxide that escapes over the rim of a Champagne glass for various style pours, the researchers proved that the gentler, beer-like technique allows the wine to retain more of the dissolved gas that is critical to the whole Champagne experience.
BuzzSkyline writes: University of Texas physicists have built the world's smallest radiometer. The minuscule radiometer is only 2 millimeters across and operates on the same principles as the common light-driven toy, which consists of spinning black and white vanes in a partially evacuated bulb. The researchers attached a mirror to their tiny radiometer and used it to rapidly scan a laser beam. Their hope is that they will be able to incorporate the radiometer into catheters to drive scanners that produce medical images of the interiors of blood vessels and organs. The devices would replace micromotors in conventional catheter-based scanners, eliminating the need to run potentially risky electrical currents into the body.
BuzzSkyline writes: Researchers in Belgium have developed devices to harvest the waste heat our bodies throw off in order to convert it to electricity to run devices such as a wristband blood oxygen sensor and an electrocardiogram shirt. As a side benefit, the power sources help cool you down and keep you looking cool, all while running sundry micropower devices. In fact, the researchers mention that the energy harvesting head band works so well that it can get uncomfortably cold. In that case, they say, "This problem is solved in exactly the same way as someone solves it on the body level in cold weather: a headgear should be worn on top of the system to limit the heat flow and make it comfortable." But it would be such a shame to cover up the golden heat-harvesting headband with a hat. The research was published last month in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy.
BuzzSkyline writes: Physicists have found that there is an ultimate limit to the speed of calculations, regardless of any improvements in technology. According to the researchers who found the computation limit, the bound "poses an absolute law of nature, just like the speed of light." While many experts expect technological limits to kick in eventually, engineers always seems to find ways around such roadblocks. If the physicists are right, though, no technology could ever beat the ultimate limit they've calculated. At the current Moore's Law pace, computational speeds will hit the wall in 75 years. A paper describing the analysis, which relies on thermodynamics, quantum mechanics and information theory, appeared in a recent issue of Physical Review Letters.
BuzzSkyline writes: "Last month, math students published a model of a zombie infestation that explained how the disease might spread. A new physics paper offers help for the more immediate problem — how to avoid being eaten. The paper, which recently appeared in the journal Physical Review E, considers where best to hide when being pursued by zombie-like predatory "random walkers." Although the researchers weren't thinking of zombies when they wrote the paper, the abstract describes the research as focusing on "the survival probability of immobile targets annihilated by a population of random walkers." (Sounds like a zombie movie premise to me.) The bottom line is you're better off the more labyrinth-like your hiding place is. So take a lesson from Dawn of the Dead, and hunker down in the mall, not in a farmhouse (as in Night of the Living Dead)."