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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.

Inverse superconductivity in iron telluride April 1, 2012

Posted by apetrov in Funny, Near Physics, Physics, Science, Uncategorized.
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One of the most significant advances of science in the 21st century so far is the 2008 discovery of iron-based high temperature superconductors such as LaFeAsO1-xFx. Previously, all high-temperature superconducting compounds, there so-called cuprates, were based on copper and consisted of copper oxide layers sandwiched between other substances. Much of the interest in those materials has arisen because the new compounds are very different from the cuprates and may help lead to a theory that is different from the conventional BCS theory of superconductivity, where electrons pair up in such a  way that  so coupled they can then move without resistance through the atomic lattice.

Among those new materials is the iron telluride, FeTe. This compound has the simplest crystal structure and exhibits antiferromagnetic ordering around 70 K and does not show superconductivity. It is now known that substitution of S for Te sites suppresses the antiferromagnetic order and induces superconductivity. Quite amazingly, this is not the most surprising property of those compounds. In a quite remarkable study performed by a group of Japanese physicists, it was shown that the iron-based compound FeTe0.8S0.2 exhibit superconductivity if soaked in red wine. They also performed a study of the effect with different types of wine and other alcoholic beverages, finding that a particular type of wine, 2009 Beajoulais from the French winery of Paul Beaudet, has the most profound effect.

A recent follow-up analysis, however, showed that subsequent and repeated applications of red wine and hard alcoholic beverages, such as cognac or vodka, can induce a new state in the study samples, dubbed the inverse superconductivity. The results, reported in the recent issue of Wine Spectator, clearly show steep increase of the samples’ resistivity after only five consequent applications of the liquid substance. As explained by the lead author of the study, John Piannicca, the results follow the simple model of the electron crowd. Interestingly enough, as reported by Dr. Piannicca, this model was developed by observing the change in the mean free path of a group of students visiting bars near the campus of his University.

Moreover, as was shown in a recent work of a group of scientists at the Siberian institute of Advanced Kevlar Engineering, it is also the quantity of alcohol that was responsible for the onset of inverse superconductivity. While this is also consistent with the already mentioned model of electron crowd, the samples obtained in the Siberian lab required much larger quantities of alcohol to achieve the same effect than those obtained in the American or Japanese labs, which could probably be explained by the specifics of liquid utilization. As was shown, the best effect was achieved with a brand of vodka “Imperia” commonly “recognized for it superbly smooth spirit and pure taste,” as advocated by its producers. It would be interesting to see how other brands would fare in such a study, which is on-going.

A picture on a wall? February 12, 2011

Posted by apetrov in Funny, Particle Physics, Physics, Science.
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I was moving old pictures from my camera to my computer today and found this image. Here is a funny picture of a reflection on my neighbor’s wall. What does it look like?

There was a picture

To a particle physicist, this is just a pair of Feynman graphs for 2 -> 2 scattering amplitudes… with the left one in an external field :-). Enjoy.

Serious papers, funny things: hamsters as co-authors, etc. October 6, 2010

Posted by apetrov in Funny, Physics, Science.

I looked at some papers written by yesterday’s Nobel Prize-winning scientists Andre Geim and  Konstantin Novoselov. There is a paper, written by Geim some time ago that stands out — not scientifically, but by its list of authors. It is

Detection of earth rotation with a diamagnetically levitating gyroscope
A. K. Geim,  and H. A. M. S. ter Tisha

Physica B: Condensed Matter
Volumes 294-295, January 2001, Pages 736-739

Note the name of the second hamster author. The rumor is that it is that hamster that was supposed to be the “levitating frog” in the work for which Geim got his Ig Nobel Prize. But it was protested, so the hamster was spared the flight and instead was added as a co-author to this publication.

It would be nice to start a collection of papers like that one. Like this one:

Alpher, R. A., H. Bethe and G. Gamow (1948). “The Origin of Chemical Elements”. Physical Review 73 (7): 803–804. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.73.803 (aka, “alpha-beta-gamma paper”)

And there are others, I’m sure..

Decision on Clay Millennium Prize reversed April 1, 2010

Posted by apetrov in Funny, Science.
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Following today’s announcement of detection of a graviton at Collider Detector at Fermilab (CDF), Clay Mathematics Institute (CMI) of Cambrige, Massachusetts decided to reverse its recent decision to award the first Millennium Prize to a Russian mathematician Grigoriy Perelman and give it to Walter L. Wagner of Hawaii for his prediction that a catastrophic black hole will be created at the LHC that will eventually destroy the whole world.

James Karlson, President of CMI, explained the stunning decision by saying, “while the resolution of the Poincaré conjecture by Grigoriy Perelman brings to a close the century-long quest for the solution, he is well-known in mathematical circles not to accept any prizes. Mr. Wagner’s prediction, buttressed by today’s observation of graviton at Fermi National Accelerator Lab, clearly points that the catastrophic black hole production at a much powerful collider, the LHC at CERN, is imminent. Since we already wrote that $1M prize off our tax return forms (remember, the tax day is April 15, regardless of whether the world is going to end or not), we needed to get rid of this money quickly.”

This prize marks a turning point in the recognition of amateur doomsday scientists and finally underscores their role in our society. For more information, please see the original press release.

Now, who said that QCD does not directly affect industry? February 2, 2010

Posted by apetrov in Funny, Near Physics.

Driving through one of the industrial parks near Detroit. It looks like QCD survives recession…

Collider music November 10, 2009

Posted by apetrov in Funny, Near Physics, Particle Physics.
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The Internet is “like a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re gonna get.” Apparently, colliders inspire songwriters of different styles: from educational rap to 60-style love songs… Enjoy…

Physics rap is becoming popular… June 18, 2009

Posted by apetrov in Funny, Near Physics, Science.
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Apparently, rapping about physics becomes increasingly popular. While major label producers are still not considering those for their star performers like Usher or Six Cents (?), physics rap star AlpineKat (widely praised for her recent single “LHCRap“) has released a new single. This time she tackles nuclear physics at NSCL, which is located at the Michigan State University. The piece actually made it to the New York Times and can be found here.

Would it bring more participants to DPF-2009?

The Daily Show’s take on LHC May 1, 2009

Posted by apetrov in Funny, Particle Physics, Physics, Science.
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I would imagine that many were quite delighted yesterday night when The Daily Show‘s Science Correspondent John Oliver reported on the Large Hadron Collider. It’s nice to to see that LHC finally made it way to Comedy Central — with answers to the burning questions “Why the @#$% would you recreate the Big Bang?” and “Does that sound a bit @#$% dangerous?”

He interviewed CERN’s John Ellis and, touching on the beaten subject of black hole production (no, not those. the ones that could eat up the Earth) at the LHC. He then traveled to Hawaii and talked to that “nuclear physicist” person who brought in a (failed) lawsuit to stop LHC construction. It was nice to see that John Oliver seemed to know more about statistics than that “nuclear physicist.”

Have fun watching the video! It can be found here: http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=225921&title=large-hadron-collider

Federal isotope beam facility (aka FRIB) comes to Michigan State December 11, 2008

Posted by apetrov in Funny, Near Physics, Physics, Science.
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It has been announced today that DOE chose Michigan State University site as the future location of the new Radioactive Beam facility. Argonne National Lab is on the loosing side of this decision. This facility should provide some boost for the Big Three … not the automakers, but The Big Three Universities (or University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University as they are known to the rest of the US).

I actually don’t know how exactly it will benefit our Department. Maybe we’ll get a couple of new faculty lines associated with the facility just 70 miles away… but who knows what’d happen in the current financial situation. Maybe Michigan government finally decides to do a responsible thing and NOT cut funding for state Universities, as has been done year after year… So here is an essential part of official announcement:


WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced today that Michigan State University (MSU) in East Lansing, MI has been selected to design and establish the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB), a cutting-edge research facility to advance understanding of rare nuclear isotopes and the evolution of the cosmos. The new facility-expected to take about a decade to design and build and to cost an estimated $550 million-will provide research opportunities for an international community of approximately 1000 university and laboratory scientists, postdoctoral associates, and graduate students.

“The Department of Energy’s new Facility for Rare Isotope Beams at Michigan State University promises to vastly expand our understanding of nuclear astrophysics and nuclear structure,” said Acting Associate

Director of the Office of Science for Nuclear Physics Eugene Henry. “This capability will allow physicists to study the nuclear reactions that power stars and stellar explosions, explore the structure of the nuclei of atoms and the forces that bind them together, test current theories about the fundamental nature of matter, and play a role in developing new nuclear medicines and techniques.”


Alternatively, you can read an article in Crain’s Detroit Business about that.