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Science of Santa December 24, 2021

Posted by apetrov in Blogroll, Cool non-physics stuff, Funny, Near Physics.
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How does Santa manage to visit so many children’s homes in such a short time? While this question has been used to doubt the existence of Santa himself, different sciences might provide answers to it. Here are some of them

Astrophysics: Santa is nonluminous material that is postulated to exist in space that could take any of several forms (including the big fat guy in a red suit) that clumps in the locations of children’s houses.

Biology: Santa is a biological entity (such as Dolly the sheep) that produces multiple clones of itself once a year.

Botany: Santa is a mycelium-like vegetative part of a fungus, consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae that propagate around most of the planet. Once a year it develops multiple fruiting bodies whose locations coincide with the locations of human children’s houses. In simpler terms, Santa is a mushroom.

Quantum Mechanics: Santa consists of multiple quantum objects in an entangled state. His existence signifies the fact that most accepted formulations of quantum mechanics are incomplete.

Cosmology: in its evolution, Santa goes through the epoch of rapid exponential superluminal expansion.

Computer science/Hollywood/sometimes even particle physics: since we all live in a computer simulation, Santa is one of the swarming bots created by the Analyst to control the inhabitants of the Matrix.

Economics: we don’t care how he does it. It positively affects the GDP of many countries.


Some pictures April 25, 2008

Posted by apetrov in Cool non-physics stuff, Near Physics, Physics, Science.
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Once again, I was unloading pictures from my cell phone… The whole Einstein theme is related to the visit of Eric Cornell (2001 Nobel Prize winner), who gave our annual Vaden Miles lecture. Some of our faculty had a dinner at one house in West Bloomfield. The owner of this house has the MOST amazing Einstein-related collection! Also, if you visited Princeton recently, you might have seen Einstein’s bust not that far from the IAS. He contributed to the installation of that bust…

2008 Detroit International Autoshow February 6, 2008

Posted by apetrov in Cool non-physics stuff, Near Physics.
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No (fundamental) physics in this post. But since I went to see new cars at the 2008 Detroit International Autoshow a couple of weeks ago, I figured some report is in order. Here are some pictures that I took during that show (this is a tiny portion of them).
There were many Chinese companies – last year I only saw one, while this year featured at least five! They make cars that look ok and would probably cost less than US-made vehicles. Some of them also look goofy (this is an electric vehicle):


The prize for the weirdest concept car goes to Mazda this year. It is a winner hands down. Do you see Xylon theme (I bet the designer likes the show “Battlestar Galactica”):


Here is another view:

The prize for the coolest new concept goes to  Saturn for their Flextreme plug-in – they even thought of a place for a Segway! I like Saturn vehicles more and more with each coming year.

Some companies are quite close to having “the real thing” — here is a “personal” hydrogen station for a Honda’s fuel cell car. If you have about $500K  you can buy it now…

But the prize for the coolest thing I saw at the show doesn’t go to a car. It goes to a TV.  Look at the picture below – some flat screen TV’s. So what? Well, the deal is that those flat screen TVs show their programs in 3D, without any glasses or anything — that’s why the lady below is holding up a hand – the image of that yellow thing sits in her palm!

I was told that there are only 11 of those TVs in existence worldwide — and onStar has 7 of them…


I’m already looking forward to the next year’s show!

Where in the world do you want to go in 2008? December 11, 2007

Posted by apetrov in Cool non-physics stuff, Near Physics.

How about Detroit? Some might say “Hmm…” Well, if you are considering going to the 2009 Meeting of the Division of Particles and Fields of American Physical Society (DPF-2009) — which will be held at WSU in Detroit — you might want to read on. It appears that Detroit has been named one of the top 53 places in the world to visit in 2008, according to NY Times. It is number 40 on the list. Only six US cities made the list: Miami (5 and 6), San Francisco(39), Detroit (40), San Diego (44), Las Vegas (50), and New York (53). London is placed 49th…
How about that?

Seltzer water as the answer to global warming November 27, 2007

Posted by apetrov in Cool non-physics stuff, Near Physics, Science.
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Ever since the invention of carbonated water by Joseph Priestley and Torbern Bergman, people wanted to find new uses for this refreshing drink — uses that are unrelated to its primary function of actually providing refreshment (Russian-speaking readers of this blog might remember popular children’s fiction novels “Neznaika” of Nikolai Nosov where carbonated water was used to propel cars and rockets).

Now, everybody knows that carbonated water is obtained by dissolving carbon dioxide gas in water – the result is the formation of carbonic acid (chemical formula H2CO3) that effectively “traps” the carbon dioxide. It is also known that carbon dioxide is one of the anthropogenic greenhouse gases, whose overconcentration is not really good for this planet. Putting two and two together, researchers from the University of Leeds Stephanie Houston, Bruce Yardley, P. Craig Smalley, and Ian Collins proposed storing CO2 in water that is being pumped into oil reservoirs to enhance the flow of oil. Read more about it here. Here is their published paper.

Should I get an iPhone? June 30, 2007

Posted by apetrov in Cool non-physics stuff, Near Physics.

So that’s the question I asked myself today when I walked in to one of the At&T stores. My contract with AT&T is up, so I wanted to explore my options. And of course, with the recent iPhone craze (and being somewhat of a gizmo geek), I wanted to check them out. So here is how the real thing looks like (I’ve got to play with it for about five minutes while in the store):


It’s thin, light and, to me, has a physical feel of an iPod (well, the redone one, with metal outer shell) and “virtual” feel of a Mac. Very intuitive controls. Lots of functions. Huge screen… What can I say, Apple makes very nice products. So if I were looking for an expensive toy to play, I’d have definitely gotten one — com’on, this thing also makes phone calls! But at $5oo up front and somewhat expensive data plans I think I’ll wait this one over. I’m seriously thinking about Blackberry Pearl… what do you think?

P.S. BTW, no crazy people running around in (or waiting outside of) that store, I’d say, they had a usual day.

P.P.S. They also had no iPhones to sell — only the working display units — so they said that if I wanted one, I’d have to wait 3-5 days — and the lady clerk was sooo0 apologetic… I guess, some things make you feel like a kid again: “But I want it NOW!”:-)

Addition June 8, 2007

Posted by apetrov in Cool non-physics stuff, Uncategorized.
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Once again, I haven’t been blogging for a while. And once again I have a good reason: there is a new addition to my family. Here he is, in the picture below (he is the smaller one).


Back to physics next week…

 P.S. When we got home, my little daughter said “Hi baby brother! Mom, can I pet him?” Hmmm…

Police cars and fuel cells May 15, 2007

Posted by apetrov in Cool non-physics stuff, Near Physics, Science, Uncategorized.
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I saw an interesting thing today. This morning, when I arrived to our physics parking lot at WSU, I noticed a WSU policeman “distributing” parking tickets to some cars illegally parked on our lot. But that’s not what captured my attention. He arrived to our lot driving a nice car from Daimler-Chrysler… oops, sorry, Daimler, a nice little Mercedes. Of course, Detroit is not Aspen (where police drive Saabs), so there’s got to be a reason for it. And there it was: it was a nice fuel-cell vehicle! Here is a picture of it (which I got appropriately asking for permission):

Nice! It’s a great way to do evaluation of new technology, right at the University that feeds car industry.

Jim Carrey in a Penning trap March 2, 2007

Posted by apetrov in Cool non-physics stuff, Funny, Near Physics.

Ok, I just had to post this. Here is a funny YouTube video of Jim Carrey (you know, “Ace Ventura” or “The Mask” or excellent “The Truman Show”) “talking the talk” on quantum physics on Connan O’Brien show (see Update at the bottom):

I wonder who wrote it for them? Maybe it was similar to this

Update: I think NBC removed this video from YouTube. However, you can still find it here. Happy viewing!

Floor-washing and the 21st century technology February 7, 2007

Posted by apetrov in Cool non-physics stuff, Uncategorized.

We decided to move into the 21st century. Well, technically, we are there already, since we have not one, but two robots roaming the open spaces of our house. What I’m talking about are the two robots that perform two functions that humans need to perform from time to time in order to keep their habitat clean, floor-vacuuming and floor-washing. So we got Roomba and Scooba. The later is especially helpful with tile floors… Here it is:


 It actually works… That is, it still works… until I get this book and start experimenting with it… By the way, if you are thinking about getting one, buying one in the Sharper Image store is the last thing I’d do (they’d overcharge you by a factor of 2)…. just my two cents…