Physics Week in Review: May 5, 2018

We skipped a week due to my nephew’s college graduation, but we’re back for Cinqo De Mayo! Time crystals have been created in two new types of materials, a super light aerogel inspired by dragonfly wings, and a peek behind the scenes of LIGO’s neutron star merger detection, are among this week’s physics highlights.

My latest story for Alta goes behind the scenes of LIGO’s detection of a neutron star merger last summer. Star Wars: When scientists in California and around the world finally solved the mystery of gravitational waves last year, only one question remained: Who should get credit for the discovery? It’s also cited in this article: How Cut-Throat Competition Forces Scientists to Act Against the Collective. The paucity of three types of resources in the hierarchy of scientific research has made the competition for grants and rewards cut-throat and the research enterprise flawed.

May the Fourth be with you! Read all about the Physics of Leia Using the Force to celebrate. “Happy Star Wars Day! Celebrate by determining how much force is applied by *the* Force.”

A Radically Conservative Solution for Cosmology’s Biggest Mystery. Two ways of measuring the universe’s expansion rate yield two conflicting answers. Many point to the possibility of new physics at work, but a new analysis argues that unseen errors could be to blame.

Time Crystals Multiply: Researchers uncover evidence of two new time crystals in systems of spins periodically driven by NMR pulses. That is, Time crystals have been created in two new types of materials. These crystals repeat their patterns at regular time intervals, not distances.

Clouds of atoms, vibrating mirrors show their quantum side.

A Flower’s Nano-Powers: Structural color can be found in various flowers and ferns, birds and insects, and even seaweeds. See how structural color offers benefits beyond beauty for numerous biological organisms.

Carlo Rovelli on the meaning of time: The theoretical physicist on why ‘exploring the nature of time leads us to understand something about ourselves’

How seriously should you take the recent claim for 4.2 sigma evidence of quantum gravity in ‘s graviational data? Well, not too seriously. But you shouldn’t entirely write it off either says Sabine Hossenfelder.

Century-old Seismograms Explain A 1906 Quake And Help Pinpoint Future Earthquake Hazards.

Superlight aerogel made by mimicking a baby dragonfly’s wings.

Spiders can Fly—Why Can’t Spiderman? A new study with crab spiders is helping to reveal just how they do it—and why spiders only fly in slow winds. l

Nature’s Mechanical Secrets Could Help Build Faster Robots. Some small animals can produce bullet-like accelerations—could robots do it, too?

This Is How Science Proves You Can Kill The Weeping Angels From Doctor Who.  References my 2015 Gizmodo blog post explaining the “quantum weeping angel” effect.

Exabytes in a Test Tube: The Case for DNA Data Storage. With the right coding, the double helix could archive our entire civilization.

In the early days of our solar system, the fastest way to build a planet was likely through small bodies, not giant ones, crashing into each other.

Comet-snowstormA Stunning Animation Created From Photos of a Heavy Snowstorm Falling on Comet 67P in 2016. [Image: Twitter user landro79/Phil Plait]

One of Stephen Hawking’s final scientific acts: Tackling the multiverse. “Stephen Hawking’s posthumous paper did not provide the answer to life, the universe and everything, but what it offered scientists was just as good: something to keep thinking about.”

Now we can all be Cyclops from The X-Men: Scottish Scientists Just Made a Contact Lens That Lets You Shoot Lasers from Your Eyes. Yeah, that’s right: Laser beams shooting out of cows’ eyes “could be a step toward better biometric security, less easily forged banknotes, and improved sensors.”

A physics discovery: Why Clothes Don’t Fall Apart: Tension Transmission in Staple Yarns.

Physics of Superheroes author Jim Kakalios tackles the physics of the Infinity Stones in the late Avengers blockbuster.  Related: This Is How The Vibranium In Avengers: Infinity War Came To Earth.

This Real Life Invisibility “Cloak” Is Powered by the Magic…of Math. “Through the exact positioning of the lenses, the light bends at certain points and flips the image seen through the glass. It takes two more lenses to flip the images right-side up so that it matches the background behind it, and completes the illusion.”

Not So Noble? Under Pressure, Helium Helps Atoms Come Together.

Want to Prune Trees More Easily? Use Physics. A blade will slice into a limb at some particular minimum pressure—but there are different ways to reach that value.

A drop of blue-dyed glycerine impacts a thin film of isopropanol, creating a spectacular splash and breakup.

Warp speed: How the outer edges of the universe travel faster than the speed of light. The answer can give us an indication of where our universe is headed and how it might end.

The occult roots of higher-dimensional research in physics.

Scientists Use Artificial Intelligence To Discover New Materials as an alternative to steel. “they discovered three new blends to form metallic glass and did this 200 times faster than it has ever been done before.”

Sports Science: How Much Energy is in a Record-Breaking Fastball?

The Physics of Terrifying Technological Battlebot Tactics.

The Brightest Supernova Ever Recorded Lit Up The Sky This Week in 1006.

The Telescopes of the Future Might Assemble Themselves in Space.

NASA’s Mini Fission Reactor Could Help Humans Survive on Mars, and It Just Cleared Early Tests.

GAIA has just released an unprecedented 3D map of a billion stars in our galaxy. The discoveries from sifting through this dataset have just begun.

How the Massive Energy of a Spinning Black Hole Can Be Harvested With an Enveloping Mirror.

Three Decades Later, Mystery Numbers Explained. Zeta values seem to connect distant geometric worlds. In a new proof, mathematicians finally explain why.

DbfAeilVQAAgu_-How This Artist Finds Abstract Art in Footage of Nuclear Explosions. Matt Bierner used a massive archive of nuclear tests to create strip photos that show nuclear explosions over time.  [Image: Matt Bierner]

The coevolution of physics and math. Breakthroughs in physics sometimes require an assist from the field of mathematics—and vice versa.

Our Galaxy Was Walloped by a Neighbor in Its Not-So-Distant Past, New Analysis Suggests.

How Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss (a.k.a. the “prince of mathematics,” rediscovered a lost dwarf planet.

Astronomers Aim To Detect Magma Oceans On Newly-Forming Extrasolar Earths.

Asteroids Really Could Have Brought Water to Earth, Experiment With Giant Rock Blaster Shows.

This Catherine wheel pattern forms when different sized particles separate during an avalanche.

The Metonymy of Matrices: A matrix is an array of numbers, but it represents so much more.

The Moser Spindle: A recent breakthrough in a decades-old graph theory problem relies on this little assembly of seven points and eleven edges.

Nalini Joshi’s Favorite Theorem: Talking time travel, complex analysis and Burmese food with a mathematician from the University of Sydney.

Q&A: SLAC’s archivist closes a chapter. Approaching retirement, Jean Deken describes what it’s like to preserve decades of collective scientific memory at a national lab.

What the remarkable run of The Big Bang Theory sitcom means for Hollywood (never mind all it’s meant for physics) — and the show’s cast and crew. “American viewers were fully geeking out over the series — undeterred by its smarty-pants leads and references to the Doppler effect and projectile motion.”

Tracking glitter particles from a university building. A team of forensic researchers from Soonchunhyang University in South Korea have determined that glitter can be used to track a person’s location in a university building.

The Surprising Result of Crushing Non-Newtonian Fluids and Crayons in a Hydraulic Press.