Physics Week in Review: July 8, 2017

Too_CoolJenLucJen-Luc Piquant and the Time Lord are off for a physics workshop in Trieste, followed by some vacation time in Buenos Aires, so the weekly roundups will be on hiatus for a couple of weeks. We'll be back July 29, though, and in the meantime, there was plenty of juicy physics news this past week to tide you over.

Defining the future: what is space? Axios asks 6 experts, including the Time Lord.  Bonus: Video of Sean's virtual-reality discussion, Seven Big Questions about the Cosmos.

Tuesday was Independence Day, so everyone dusted off their evergreen explainers for the occasion to tell you everything you need to know about the explosive science of fireworks.  Like, These are the Minerals That Give Fireworks Their Colors. Glitter starch, and gunpowder: Those are the chemicals that make fireworks burn, blast off, and change colors.  Related: You’re A Firework (Scientifically Speaking): "The same process that powers those explosions is going on inside a grill when you cook a hot dog, and inside your body when you eat that hot dog.” Also: A recipe for disaster? Medieval fireworks: "Their use in England was first recorded in 1486 at the wedding of King Henry VII."  Bonus: While most of us enjoy fireworks at night, there are special formulations made for daylight use. Finally, What were the 'rockets red glare' in the "Star Spangled Banner"? 

July 4 was also the five-year anniversary of the announcement at CERN that physicists had discovered the Higgs boson. When physicists first switched on the particle collider, the world worried about black holes. But they ran into a totally different kind of problem. Related: When was the Higgs actually discovered? The announcement on July 4 was just one part of the story. Take a peek behind the scenes of the discovery of the Higgs boson. 

Speaking of the CERN and the LHC, physicists discovered a particle with a double dose of charm. The new double heavy particle is expected to shine light on the strong force. Related: New Particle Discovery Reignites Decade-Old Physics Controversy.

Pinpointing Ebbs and Flows of Commuter Traffic. Vulnerabilities in a city’s public transport system are identified through a network analysis that accounts for the number of passengers and vehicles at any given time. 

Tying loose ends? Gravitational waves could solve string theory, study claims. New paper suggests that the hotly contested physics thesis, which involves the existence of six ‘extra dimensions’, may be settled by cutting-edge laser detectors.

Scientists are about to change what a kilogram is. That’s massive.  See also my 2016 article for Gizmodo about how scientists are redefining the kilogram.

Quantum mechanics can’t smell your unwashed armpits… probably. Researchers use basic quantum mechanics to eliminate proposal for odor sensing.

At the boundary between chaos and order, order rules (eventually). Predicting the unpredictable: What fractals can tell us about a coin toss.

The Scientists Who Look for Nothing to Understand Everything. Physicists have a name for this nothing: null results. “You’re still in a way making a contribution. You’re making sure that other people don’t look in the same place.”

The Physics Of Century-Old Mirror Selfies. How to make a "photo-multigraph" image showing the same person from five different angles, and the physics principles that make it all work.

Protons are lighter than physicists thought, which may solve a big puzzle about matter/antimatter asymmetry.

How to make sure you don't get duped by a counterfeit. A mobile graphene app that can spot a fake watch, medicine or other counterfeit good with 100 per cent accuracy could be available to consumers by early next year.

YXvW6ncoFirst “Virtual” Unrolling of Ancient Scroll Buried by Vesuvius Reveals Early Text. Modern imaging analysis is changing researchers’ understanding of the damaged scrolls. [Image: Inna Bukreeva et al.]  See also my 2016 article for Gizmodo: Wondergadget Allows Researchers To Read a Charred Biblical Scroll. 

Let's take a closer look at the video North Korea released to determine that missile's acceleration–with physics

A Study About Nothing. Scientists find new ways to measure the infinitesimally small fluctuations that exist in a vacuum.

Peering beneath the Surface of Ancient Manuscripts. To save on parchment, monks would overwrite older documents to create new ones—but a new tool can reveal what lies beneath. 

The Physics Behind that One-Ton Wrecking Ball Trick on Outrageous Acts of Science.

Lucky Break Leads to Controversial Supernova Discovery. Supernova hunters were able to train their telescopes on a recent eruption just hours after it exploded. What they found only adds to the growing list of questions surrounding these cosmic blasts.

What would it take to invent a rain-deflecting forcefield? Hint: Better hold on to your umbrella.

It didn’t take long for an aerodynamic controversy to crop up in this year’s Tour de France.

Optical computers may have finally found a use—improving artificial intelligence. New type of photonic computer chip could pave the way for AI devices, but still be small enough to fit in a pocket.

Quantum theorist turned children's book author brings scientific concepts to pre-schoolers: "In the great green lab, there was a laser, and a lab notebook … Goodnight scientists, everywhere."

Science in Progress: Upgrading the World's Biggest Science Experiment at CERN. 

A quarter century ago, the qubit was born. In 1992, a physicist invented a concept that would drive a new type of computing.

If you’ve ever clapped near a wall with a corrugated surface, you may have noticed some strange echoes.

Why People With Brain Implants Are Afraid to Go Through Automatic Doors, or how EM waves can interfere with brain chips.

When Fear of radiation is more dangerous than radiation itself. Then again: Repeated safety lapses hobble Los Alamos National Laboratory’s work on the cores of U.S. nuclear warheads. 

A year at Jupiter: Juno has revealed the giant of the Solar System. Related: Juno Shatters Scientists' Jupiter Theories in Just 365 Days, so it's exciting times for scientists.  Also: NASA releases stunning views of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. As Juno prepares for an up-close look at Jupiter’s giant storm, astronomers are supplementing their knowledge with Earth-based observations.

How Eclipse Chasers Are Putting a Small Kentucky Town on the Map.  Related: That time in October 1976 when an Australian city scared itself silly over a total solar eclipse. Also: Science Says Why We Can't Look at the Sun. It is 93 million miles away but can still do a lot of damage

Venus's atmosphere is so dense that it may behave more like a liquid than a gas.

DEDtYTfUQAAOrXDA ‘Neurographer’ Puts the Art in Artificial Intelligence. Mario Klingemann makes art using artificial neural networks. Google's in-house artist shows how code that can understand images can also be made to play with them. [Image: Mario Klingemann

Mystery of the 'alien megastructure' star keeps going, and it's not the only oddball out there.

NASA Simulation Shows How An Asteroid Melts in the Atmosphere. 

NASA Just Released Evidence Of 'Lava Waterfalls' On Mars. 

A stressed, sleep-deprived couple accidentally invented the modern alien abduction phenomenon. 

How to Obfuscate: What misinformation on Twitter and radar have in common.

From Ptolemy to GPS, the brief history of maps and now they changed the world.

Monsters, Marvels, and the Birth of Science: How the unlikely and unexplainable, strange and terrifying, spawned the age of science.

Einstein, Edison and an Aptitude for Genius: the two thinkers had sharply different views on aptitude tests. 

The beauty of math is in the brain of the beholder

In Math, Profs Use This Puzzle To Teach a Valuable Lesson About Problem Solving. 

The forgotten, brilliant mathematician Lillian Lieber on infinity, freedom, being a finite but complete human being. 

Oh, FFS. These Coloradans say Earth is flat. And gravity's a hoax. Now, they claim they're being "persecuted." The Flat Earth movement is growing in Colorado, thanks to technology and skepticism about science.

How to Succeed in a Most Puzzling Business: When an artist, an architect and a rocket scientist team up to create the next great puzzle craze, they learn that conquering the toy market is far from child’s play.

Read some seriously strange time travel stories from sci-fi’s modern masters.

Stitching a Supernova: A Needlepoint Celebration of Science by Pioneering Astronomer Cecilia Payne. 

These sculptures are actually interactive sound-making electronic circuits. 

A programmer turned Wikipedia into a classic text adventure. "this "game" now exists, and it's thanks to a London developer who figured out a clever way to interpret the gushing fountain of data that is Wikipedia's API."

Science can make blockbuster movies better. "I constantly am getting the sort of note back from Hollywood, like, 'Wow. I was really surprised how like, how hip that scientist was.' And you know, scientists and engineers, they are, they are hip," Science and Entertainment Exchange director Rick Loverd says

Spider-Man's suit has to be just as sticky as his hands. 

The Only Video You’ll Need to Understand the Rolling Shutter Effect

The math of "the enemy of my enemy": Network Mathematics and Rival Factions. The theory of social networks allows us to mathematically model and analyze the relationships between governments, organizations and even the rival factions warring on Game of Thrones