Physics Week in Review: July 21, 2018

Shape-changing material triggered by light, the first full-color 3D x-rays, and how much energy Marvel superhero Iron Fist packs into a punch are among this week’s physics highlights.

The Peculiar Math That Could Underlie the Laws of Nature. New findings are fueling an old suspicion that fundamental particles and forces spring from strange eight-part numbers called “octonions.”

A New Way To Measure The Speed Of Our Galaxy Through The Cosmos uses other galaxies rather than the cosmic background.

Astronomers Looking for Planet Nine Accidentally Discovered 12 More Moons Orbiting Jupiter.  The moons were discovered serendipitously while astronomers hunted for the hypothetical Planet Nine.  Related: A Trillion Worlds: Big-data statistics have revealed, among other things, that our own solar system is kind of an oddball.

New Material Changes Shape, Prompted Just By Light: “thanks to new research from MIT and the University of South Florida, scientists have gotten materials to code switch, in this case by changing their material structure and properties, simply by shining lights on them.”

Research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern. An international team of scientists has discovered a new, exotic form of insulating material with a metallic surface that could enable more efficient electronics or even quantum computing.

Using acoustic levitation and an array of carefully-placed speakers, researchers can manipulate droplets without touching them.

D-Wave’s quantum computer successfully models a quantum system: system lets researchers explore phase transitions in quantum systems.  Related: Making Quantum Computations Behave: A new computational method tackles many-body quantum calculations that have defied a suite of existing approaches.

A Bright Future: Quantum Dots and the Quest for Energy Efficient White Lights.

How Much Energy Does Iron Fist Pack Into His Superpowered Punch?

New Computer Model Predicts how fracturing metallic glass releases energy at the atomic level.

How is a runner like a bouncing ball? An attempt to model a running human as a bouncing ball with two important features. 1) There is a max force on impact and 2) floor contact time decreases with speed.

What Is (And Isn’t) Scientific About The Multiverse: “whatever the true nature of the Universe actually is, our ability to gather information about it is fundamentally limited.”

A Comprehensive Guide to the Physics of Running on the Moon.

What Was It Like When The Universe First Created More Matter Than Antimatter?

In her short life, mathematician Emmy Noether changed the face of physics. Noether linked two important concepts in physics: conservation laws and symmetries

These are the world’s first full-colour, 3D X-rays. Per Lost at E Minor: “Images of ankles, wrists, and heels wherein you can distinguish bone from muscle from skin – and from even a wristwatch.”

Rise of the machines: Machine learning will become an even more important tool when scientists upgrade to the High-Luminosity Large Hadron Collider.

The Golden Ratio can be seen all over the place, but it is not a “special universal constant in self-replicating systems.”

Highly viscous liquids – like cake batter, lava, or spider silk (image) – fold as they fall. “Even out near the edge of the puddle, you can still see individual folds. This is a sign of just how incredibly viscous the spider silk is.”  (Image credit and submission: D. Breslauer, source)

Joshua Frieman looks to future as head of particle physics research at Fermilab. “The idea of cosmology as archaeology on the grand scale—that we could make observations of the universe and use them like pottery shards to piece together the first few moments after the Big Bang—was very compelling to me.”

Whether on land or at sea, detailing the intricacies of airflow is essential to extracting maximum electricity from future wind farms.

The loudest sound the world has ever heard. “A volcano on Krakatoa had just erupted with a force so great that it tore the island apart, emitting a plume of smoke that reached 17 miles into the atmosphere, according to a geologist who witnessed it.”

The Pillars Of Creation Haven’t Been Destroyed, Say New NASA Images.

MIT’s ‘Orbit Weaver’ Turns Astronauts into Spiders. It’s a handheld device called Orbit Weaver, which allows a person experiencing microgravity to pull themselves toward a desired area.

Researchers Discover A Quadrillion Tons of Diamonds in Earth’s Deep Crust. “Earth’s interior is dark, but filled with diamonds.”

A leading researcher suggests the Red Planet’s harsh atmosphere means its surface might not be the most likely place to find the building blocks for life.

Philosophy has always played an essential role in the development of science, physics in particular, and is likely to continue to do so.  Related: A Review of Three Recent Books That Touch On The Interplay Between Physics And Philosophy.

DARPA Wants Your Insect-Scale Robots for a Micro-Olympics. SHRIMP is a new DARPA program to develop insect-scale robots for disaster recovery and high-risk environments.

The Dazzlingly Colorful Atlases That Brought the Night Sky Within Reach. Details of some beautiful hand-colored engravings of constellations from 1821.

Astronomer Jocelyn Bell Burnell turned 75 this week. The fascinating and troubling story of how she revolutionized our understanding of the universe with the discovery of pulsars — the first evidence that black holes might be real.

The Government Lost Control At A Former Nuclear Weapons Plant. Now 42 Workers Are Paying The Price. “This is 2018. We shouldn’t still be contaminating people with plutonium,” said a worker at the Hanford Site.

What knitting can teach you about math: In this professor’s class, there are no calculators. Instead, students learn advanced math by drawing pictures, playing with beach balls—and knitting.

List: If Math Students Acted Like Creative Writing Students. “It’s not incomplete. I stopped short of writing the total because I wanted a cliffhanger.”

Rocket Creates Sky Ripples When It Passes Through Ice Crystals in a Cirrus Cloud.

The Fantastic Gravity Well Marble Machines of Larry Marley. “With each successive version, the design gets more ambitious and elaborate. From the satisfying sound of metal on wood to the hypnotizing path from start to finish, these wonderful contraptions are a delight to watch.”

Someone Made a Calculator Out of Roller Coasters in ‘RollerCoaster Tycoon.’

Steven Strogatz explains how he teaches eigenvectors and eigenvalues: