Physics Week in Review: January 14, 2017

Fools!Jen-LucThis week, I wrote about the latest results from the XENON100 experiment for New Scientist, and it's not promising news for the DAMA collaboration. No sign of seasonal dark matter after four years of searching.

Scientists Have Twisted Molecules Into The Tightest Knot Ever.

Shimmering bubbles have a dark spot that signals their imminent demise.

Topological defects in liquid crystals could be used to create artificial atoms or study math problems in the lab.

Some folks have observed hot water freeze before cold. The big question is why. 

Putting “Life” in Order with Acoustical Tweezers Designed for widespread use.

NIST Physicists ‘Squeeze’ Light to Cool Microscopic Drum Below Quantum Limit. 

How Tiny Swimmers Put the “Super” in Superfluid.

Prakash Lab made a cheap, hand-powered, paper centrifuge out of an ancient kids' toy. It spins 125,000 rpm.

Scientists Have Finally Figured Out How To Spin Artificial Silk The Way Spiders Do.

‘Alien megastructure’ signal may be due to star eating a planet.

Via Maddie Stone on Twitter: "The dazzling physics behind light pillars, which are perfectly natural and definitely not caused by cloaked UFOs."

C2ESiJfVEAAYeTTBecause Jen-Luc Piquant adores light painting: In-Camera Light Paintings by Hannu Huhtamo Sprout in the Darkness Like Alien Blooms. [Image: Hannu Huhtamo

Does a cartoon penguin make math education great again?  Related: Teaching Math to People Who Think They Hate It, or why Steven Strogatz is so awesome.  Also:  Mathematician Neal Koblitz on Why STEM Majors Need the Humanities.

Finding the Actions That Alter Evolution with mathematics: a Q&A with biologist Marcus Feldman.

What are the chances: on DNA, gambling, and the probability of everyday life.

Wanis Kabbaj: Can We Improve Our Transportation Network Using…Biology?

The Life and Death of Schrodinger's Cat, and What It Really Means.

The Not-So-Fine Tuning of the Universe. There's more than one way to build a universe suitable for life.

Analyzing swimming schools of fish inspired a biophysicist to try to improve the performance of wind turbines.

Let’s learn some physics playing with compound pulleys with Wired's Rhett Allain.

There's some cool fluid dynamics behind this ice disk spinning in the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River in Washington state.

What happens when algorithms design a concert hall? The stunning Elbphilharmonie.

Poker may be the latest game to fold against artificial intelligence. Two research groups have developed poker-playing AI programs that show how computers can out-hustle the best humans.

Here's how high you could jump on other worlds in the solar system.

We can't directly see black holes. But this time lapse shows the awesome power of their gravity.

If the World Began Again, Would Life as We Know It Exist?

The woman who weighed our galaxy: 480 billion times the mass of the sun, says Gwen Eadie.

How to Draw with Math: regularity of natural patterns can lead artists to use mathematical concepts in works of art.

Just as surely as (a + b) = (b + a),  mathematicians love their blackboards.

How to Quickly Calculate Percentages.

Why Are Mathematicians So Bad at Arithmetic?

How does curvature make a shape a shape? 

The universal patterns behind innovation have mystified researchers. Now mathematicians have discovered how they arise.

The ABCs of Particle Physics is now a board book. You know, for kids! And curious adults.

The Latham Loop: a camera technology that prevented celluloid from tearing helped make modern cinema.

Close examination of an ancient toy chariot has revealed a clue to what helped lead ancient Roman charioteers to victory.

How a 19th century concoction transformed oil painting.

STOMP_at_CERN-sSTOMP visits CERN: group known for making music with everyday objects got their hands on some extraordinary props. "Lab visitors are generally discouraged from hitting the experiments." [Image: Maximilien Brice, CERN

First beam at SESAME synchrotron in Jordan. Iran, Israel, PA, Cyprus, Turkey collaborate on big science.

Legendary radio telescope hangs in the balance: NSF looks to slash funding for Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory.

Does theoretical physics research serve any use? Yes: ~20% of world GDP is based on applications of quantum theory.

Energy Dept issues new "scientific integrity" policy shortly after controversial Trump transition questionnaire.  Related: US Department of Energy has released guidelines to protect researchers from political interference. Also: Via Ernie Moniz on Twitter: "New State of the National Labs Report shows how our 17 labs make the nation stronger. It’s science for the people." Finally, because this is the absurd world we live in now: “Man, if believing in facts is an act of resistance, well then, so be it.”

Albert Einstein Explains How Slavery Has Crippled Everyone’s Ability (Even Aristotle’s) to Think Clearly About Racism.

Watch a young black female coder interview the stars of Hidden Figures.  Related: Hidden Figures Reveals Four Great Lessons For Science And Society.

Don’t You Dare Try to Teach Science Without Building Models.

These strange flower-like formations appear in a former limestone quarry in France.

Reading the emotions of physicists' profile images: Mostly happy, many neutral, and one (Brian Cox) angry, although that's in error–he's just really excited (per Microsoft Cognitive Services' Emotion API).

How colour-changing cats might warn future humans of radioactive waste. As the UK gets ready to build more nuclear plants, scientists are looking for new ways to tell our distant descendants where we’ve buried our sludge.

PBS’ Containment reflects on the challenges of storing radioactive waste.

The Proxima Trail: Could you survive the journey out to an exoplanet?

"Deep Field" – music inspired by a Hubble observation – is an allegory for the new year.

Seven Scientific Superpowers Magneto Doesn't Know He Has.

Watch an Early Silent Film About Relativity. Per Mental Floss: "Although it's entirely silent (and of course quite dated), it's a thoroughly lucid way to understand Einstein's most important work."

You Think You Know Albert Einstein? NatGeo's first scripted series, Genius, Begs to Differ. The series airs in April.

"I'm a scientist on wheels / I never need an Uber and my girlfriend wear her heels." A bike + minerals rap.

Cool Worlds interviews my own Sean Carroll at the AAS meeting in Grapevine, TX about a burning question: is time an illusion?

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