Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How Long Can You Balance A Pencil

Minute Physics took up a topic that I had discussed previously. It is about the time scale on how long a pencil can be balanced on its tip.

Note that in a previous post, I had pointed out several papers that debunked the fallacy of using quantum mechanics and the HUP to arrive at such time scale. So it seems that this particular topic, like many others, keeps coming back every so often.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Cuddly Plushes At Synchrotron Beamlines

I mentioned of my final visit to the NSLS before its impending shutdown. I had to stop and chuckle at one of the UV beamlines during my casual tour around the place. There were cuddly plushes strategically placed along the beamlines, including Kermit and Miss Piggy in a rather amorous position (not that there's anything wrong with it).

And yes, I took a few photos.

I hope they remember to rescue these guys before the wrecking ball arrives.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Saying Goodbye To NSLS

I had a chance recently to visit my old romping ground, the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS) at Brookhaven Lab. I spent 3 years there doing my postdoc work, and the facility is about to be shut down at the end of Sept. 2014 as the new facility, the NSLS II just right next door, will take over. The old lady is still running, but you can tell that she's old, decrepit, with lots of aches and pains, and about ready to retire. One can tell that this place is about ready to be shut down when even the vendors no longer refill the vending machines!

I was there on the day that Long Island, NY received 13 inches of rain within a 12 hour period, and walking in the next day, I saw leaks and a few water issues. Oh yeah, the old lady is definitely ready to go. The NSLS was such a workhorse during her glory years. To say that she was over-subscribed is an understatement. The place was packed with users on top of each other. The presence of two separate rings, one for the x-ray and the other for the UV/IR/low energy photons, made it quite unique and useful for many applications and studies.

Across the street from her is the new lady on the block, the NSLS II. She's huge when compared to the old lady, she's shiny and new, more powerful and sleeker. I look forward to visiting her when she's in operation, but I'll never forget the one I spent a lot of days and nights with. She gave me good data. How many dates have you been on where you can say that?

So long, NSLS!


Saturday, August 09, 2014

Data Analysis App

A while back, I asked if anyone had a suggestion for the best physics apps that are available for mobile devices. I've been mostly using my iPad when I am away from home, ditching my travel laptop. It has worked rather well for me. The only thing that I miss is that I don't have my usual data analysis/graphing software that I often use. I use Origin on my laptop/desktop to analyze, plot, and produce publication-quality graphs. I don't intend to do such extensive work on my iPad, but I do need a quick and dirty way to enter or import data, plot it, and do some rudimentary analysis on it. At the very least, it must be able to do some simple data-fitting and produce a decent-enough graph that I can e-mail to my collaborators.

After looking around for a bit, and after trying this one out for the past month, I think I found a very nice app that does just the thing that I was looking for. The app is called "DataAnalysis". You can find it in the Apple App Store, and I don't know if it has a version on Android. I don't work for the company and get nothing for recommending this app (darn it!), so this is an unsolicited recommendation.

The app is easy enough to use, even though it has links to a couple of YouTube tutorials if you need them. You can either import ASCII text data, or create your own data in an empty data sheet. The data are in a simple, two-column format, space separated (don't you commas or it'll complain!). Once you have your data, you can easily plot it.

You then have the option of doing some simple data analysis. It has a number of already built-in mathematical expression that you can fit your data to. For an undergraduate student in science and engineering, this feature should be sufficient for most cases.

It has a limited number of customization for your graphs. I don't expect to produce a publication-quality graph using this app. But it is good enough for me to send a graph to my collaborators. Having the ability to save and/or send graphics/pdf of the data easily is an important feature that I require, and this app does that.

The one major drawback that I see with this app is the inability (at least, I couldn't find how to do it yet, if the capability exists) to plot more than just one set of data on the same graph. Right now, all I can do is give a set of x and y values. I can't do a set of x, and then a set of y1, y2, etc.. values. It will be a nice feature to have to be able to plot more than just one set of data in a single graph. It can't be that difficult of a feature to add.

Otherwise, this is a very useful app on the go and it does what I need it to do.


Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The Discovery of CP Violation

This is a very informative article on CERN Courier on the early days of the discovery of CP violation in elementary particle physics.

This is a very important discovery because, as of now, it is considered as one of the factors that might, just might (although the effect is still too small), explain why our universe is dominated by matter and not equal amount of matter-antimatter.

It is also one of the "Who Ordered That?" effect that many didn't see coming.


Saturday, August 02, 2014

The Origins Of Mass

We have covered this before in this blog, but here's another one to drill the point in, especially if you missed it during earlier coverage. You just have to excuse the bad pun at the beginning of the video.


The Title Doesn't Match The Content - Part 2

Here's another news article where the title really doesn't match the content. This one came from Huffington Post, and it was titled "The End of Accelerator Physics?"

When I first saw the title, I thought it was about funding issues, and that no one is going to fun larger and more expensive accelerators than the LHC. WRONG!

The article was focusing more on the advancement in particle physics, with very little on accelerator physics (really!). Again, as is common, people are confusing the field of accelerator physics with elementary particle physics and high energy physics! I've repeatedly emphasized on here on the fact that these two are very different field of studies, and the overwhelming majority (more than 95%) of particle accelerators in the world have NOTHING to do with particle physics at all!

I am well aware that this is almost a futile effort to educate the masses, but if just one of you reading this learn about it and educate yourself, and then maybe help to educate just one of your friends, then this will all have been worthwhile.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Title Doesn't Match The Content

The title of this news article is "Developments In Particle Physics Are About to Transform Our Daily Lives". Yet, the article really has nothing to do with "particle physics", which is an area of study that investigates the physics of elementary particles. The article has more to do with the applications of quantum physics.

Why it wasn't just called "Developments in Quantum Physics...." instead is beyond me. Maybe the phrase "particle physics" makes the title looks sexier, regardless on whether it is accurate or not.


Science In Cinema


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lights On Pipes - Which One Heats The Most?

We also deal with elementary stuff here.

The people at the Frostbite Theater at JLab has another video out. This time, they show an experiment on which pipes heats the most when shined with light.

The results is not surprising. But what is surprising is why the white pipe heats up faster initially. So, anyone wants to enter a Science Fair to study why this is so, especially when Steve is way too old to enter?


LIGO Gets Ready

Not sure how long this article will be available without a subscription, but in case you missed this article on LIGO in last week's issue of Nature, this is a good one to keep.

De Rosa, a physicist at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, knows he has a long night ahead of him. He and half a dozen other scientists and engineers are trying to achieve 'full lock' on a major upgrade to the detector — to gain complete control over the infrared laser beams that race up and down two 4-kilometre tunnels at the heart of the facility. By precisely controlling the path of the lasers and measuring their journey in exquisite detail, the LIGO team hopes to observe the distinctive oscillations produced by a passing gravitational wave: a subtle ripple in space-time predicted nearly a century ago by Albert Einstein, but never observed directly.

It's a daunting task, with instrument of such precision, that so many things can contribute to the "noise" being detected. We will just have to wait and see if we will get to detect such gravitational waves anytime soon.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Big Mystery in the Perseus Cluster

The news about the x-ray emission line seen in the Perseus cluster that can't be explained (yet) by current physics.

The preprint that this video is based on can be found here.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Angry Birds Realized In A Classroom Experiment

If you can't get kids/students to be interested in a lesson when you can tie in with a favorite game, then there's nothing more you can do.

This article (which you can get for free) shows the physics and what you will need to do water balloon launcher to teach projectile motion. It includes the air drag factor, since this is done not in the world of Angry Birds, but in real life.

Abstract: A simple, collapsible design for a large water balloon slingshot launcher features a fully adjustable initial velocity vector and a balanced launch platform. The design facilitates quantitative explorations of the dependence of the balloon range and time of flight on the initial speed, launch angle, and projectile mass, in an environment where quadratic air drag is important. Presented are theory and experiments that characterize this drag, and theory and experiments that characterize the nonlinear elastic energy and hysteresis of the latex tubing used in the slingshot. The experiments can be carried out with inexpensive and readily available tools and materials. The launcher provides an engaging way to teach projectile motion and elastic energy to students of a wide variety of ages.

There ya go!

What I like about this one than the common projectile motion demo that occurs in many high school is that there is quite a careful thought being given to the physics. One can do this as simple as one wants to, or ramp up the complexities by including factors that are not normally considered in such situation.


Friday, July 18, 2014

The Physics Of A Jumping Articulated Toy

Some time, it is just a pleasure to read about something that isn't too deep, and it is just fun!

This paper on EJP (which is available for free) describes the physics of a jumping kangaroo. The toy makes a complete sommersault as shown in the photo and in the video.

Abstract: We describe the physics of an articulated toy with an internal source of energy provided by a spiral spring. The toy is a funny low cost kangaroo which jumps and rotates. The study consists of mechanical and thermodynamical analyses that make use of the Newton and centre of mass equations, the rotational equations and the first law of thermodynamics. This amazing toy provides a nice demonstrative example of how new physics insights can be brought about when links with thermodynamics are established in the study of mechanical systems.

The authors may want to impart some deeper physical insight into understanding this, which may be true. But I like to take this just on face value. It is just a fun toy and a fun look at how it does what it does.