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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 27 declined, 24 accepted (51 total, 47.06% accepted)

Earth

Submission + - Tsunami Invisibility Cloak (newscientist.com)

BuzzSkyline writes: "New Scientist is reporting on a lab-scale experiment that may lead to a tsunami invisibility cloaks, which could protect islands, open-ocean platforms and even coastlines from dangerous waves by effectively making them invisible to tsunamis. The technology is based on the same sorts of negative index of refraction ideas that some physicists are exploring as they try to make real versions of Harry Potter's optical invisibility cloak, except that it works with water instead of light."
Announcements

Submission + - World's Smallest Trophy up for Grabs (physicscentral.com)

BuzzSkyline writes: "The American Physical Society is offering what they claim will be the smallest trophy ever made for the winning entry in the football-themed NanoBowl video contest. The NanoBowl trophy is being made by the Craighead research group of Cornell University, which also produced the nanoguitar (the holder of the Guinness Book record for the smallest guitar). The trophy will include features a billionth of a meter across, and will only be visible under powerful electron and scanning-tunneling microscopes. Apparently, the nanotrophy will be awarded in a ceremony to be held in a phone booth on Super Bowl Sunday 2008."
The Almighty Buck

Submission + - Dark Web turns deadly in Japan (yomiuri.co.jp)

BuzzSkyline writes: "The Japanese news site Daily Yomiuri is reporting that a woman was murdered in a robbery concocted with the aid of dark Web sites set up to help criminals find accomplices. Kenji Kawagishi, and unemployed man in Aichi Prefecture, sent messages from his cell phone to the "Dark Employment Security Web," which hooked him up with two other men who were also hard-up for cash. Tsukasa Kanda, a sales agent for the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, and Yoshitomo Hori (unemployed), joined with Kawagishi in kidnapping 31-year-old Rie Isogai while she was on her way home from work. The men robbed her of 70,000 yen (about $600), murdered her, and dumper her in the woods of Mizunami, Gifu Prefecture."
The Internet

Submission + - NSF-funded "Dark Web" to battle terrorists (nsf.gov)

BuzzSkyline writes: "The National Science Foundation has announced a University of Arizona project, which they call the Dark Web, intended to monitor all terrorist activity on the Internet. The project relies on "advanced techniques such as Web spidering, link analysis, content analysis, authorship analysis, sentiment analysis and multimedia analysis [to] find, catalogue and analyze extremist activities online." The coolest part of the project is a tool called Writeprint, which "automatically extracts thousands of multilingual, structural, and semantic features to determine who is creating 'anonymous' content" with an accuracy of 95%, according to the release. Of course, that means that Big Brother will be able to keep en eye on all the Anonymous Cowards posting on /. too."
Role Playing (Games)

Submission + - The first mixed reality experiment (physicscentral.com)

BuzzSkyline writes: "The website PhysicsBuzz is reporting that researchers at the University of Illinois claim to have performed the first mixed reality experiment by coupling a real pendulum to its virtual twin. The researchers are exploring both the ways that the real world can affect virtual systems, and ways that virtual reality can affect the real world. Eventually, they hope to extend their studies to understand how virtual economies (such as those in the The World of Warcraft and Second Life) are coupled to real economies. The fact that virtual money and property can be purchased with real cash means that we can no longer think of online economies as separate from the real world. The researchers published their mixed reality paper in the May 2005 issue of the journal Physical Review E."
Education

Submission + - Stephen Hawking Going to Iran for Physics Olympiad

BuzzSkyline writes: "PhysicsBuzz is reporting that Stephen Hawking will be traveling to Iran in July to address competitors in the 2007 International Physics Olympiad. The Olympiad is an annual competition among high schoolers from every continent who gather to battle for the gold medals awarded to the world's brightest physics students."
Math

Submission + - Turbulence Control for a Safer Hajj

BuzzSkyline writes: "Science News is reporting that a fluid physics analysis of crowd motions during last year's disaster at Mecca helped to make this year's Hajj safer. When crowd pressure reaches a critical point, according to the new study, panic leads to motion similar to the swirling turbulence often observed in fluids. The researchers who performed the study worked with a Saudi civil engineer to develop image recognition software that warns of impending crowd turbulence. The organizers of Hajj could then slow the flow of pilgrims to reduce crowd pressure. The research is due to appear in this month's Physical Review E journal."
Biotech

Submission + - E. coli bacteria are built to swim upstream

BuzzSkyline writes: "A paper to be published Monday in the journal Physical Review Letters reports that the mechanical structure of the bacteria E. coli causes the microbes to swim upstream in rapidly flowing liquids. The Yale University researchers who discovered the behavior believe it might be the cause of infections in patients fitted with catheters and could explain the origin of biofilms that form inside some piping. They even suggest that leaving a running hose in contact with the ground could allow bacteria to swim up out of the dirt and into indoor tanks and water heaters. A video that the group recorded shows a microscopic view of bacteria in the fluid flowing inside a microchannel as they paddle to one side, flip around, and swim back up against the current."
Education

Submission + - Aspiring Physics Students Beaten in Nepal Protest

BuzzSkyline writes: "Physics students in Nepal were beaten last month as they protested the lack of space in the country's university. The protest took place on December 12, 2006, but news seems to travel slowly from Nepal. An abridged clip of the police pummeling students with batons is available on the PhysicsBuzz blog, and the full (11 MB) clip is on the Nepal News website."
Books

Submission + - Vampire Physics

BuzzSkyline writes: "I had no idea how much physics I could learn from a TV show about a young girl battling the undead. Jennifer Ouellette's new book The Physics of the Buffyverse uses episodes from the cult hit Buffy the Vampire Slayer to illustrate everything from acoustics to quantum mechanics to worm holes and general relativity. What a shame that I wasted so much time in class instead of watching Buffy."
Wireless Networking

Submission + - Wireless Power

BuzzSkyline writes: "The Christian Science Monitor is reporting that the end of annoying power cords may be at hand. Researchers from MIT presented a proposal for wireless energy transfer yesterday at the American Institute of Physics Industrial Physics Forum meeting in San Francisco. Marin Soljacic and colleagues are hoping they can develop energy hotspots, comparable to wireless network hotspots, that provide power to nearby electronics. Instead of broadcasting energy, as a radio antenna does, Soljacic's system creates an oscillating, short-range electric field that only transmits energy to nearby devices carrying pickups that resonate at the frequency of the short-range field. The idea is based on well established science, available to inventors like Tesla and Edison, so it's not clear why nobody has done this before. One possible reason is that it's only 30% to 60% efficient on paper, and may be worse in the real world."
United States

Submission + - Physics Proves the Synthetic NBA Basketball Sucks

BuzzSkyline writes: "Physicists at the University of Texas have performed tests showing that the new, and controversial, synthetic basketball introduced into the US National Basketball Association this year is less lively, more slippery when dampend by sweat in the course of a game, and bounces more erratically than the traditional leather basketballs. It looks like Shaq's complaints were on the mark afterall. The physicists caution that they have more tests to do before they release a full report, including a spin in the university's wind tunnel, but it doesn't look good for the microfiber ball. It seems like bad news for the PETA folks who championed the cruelty-free synthetic alternative, not to mention the cows that provide the leather for traditional NBA basketballs."

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