“Physics Buzz”: A Tour

While the “Physics Buzz” blog from the American Physical Society isn’t a math blog, there is some overlap. Here are some interesting recent posts on the site.

“Holiday Instability”

This post explores questions such as whether a Christmas tree, a Hanukkah menorah or a Festivus pole is more likely to topple over and which of the items would be the best choice for easy juggling.

“The Forces in Spilled Coffee Awaken”

This post discusses the physics of coffee stains. “Just in case you’re wondering if it is a worthwhile use of processing power, time, and money to study a stain, consider this. Coffee isn’t the only substance that’s made of tiny particles suspended in a liquid. Blood, paint, ink…understanding the way these kinds of liquids behave could have huge implications in areas from medicine to high-tech manufacturing. For example, in the future we may be able to create tiny structures with unique properties by carefully dropping a liquid filled with nanoparticles onto a surface and evaporating the liquid. In order to do this, though, scientists need to be able to accurately predict a mixture’s behavior. This requires an understanding of the forces involved,” Kendra Redmond wrote in the post.

“Star Light, Star Bright: Measuring All the Starlight (Ever!)”

This post describes how “astronomers have found a way to ‘see’ all of the starlight produced in the history of the 13.7-billion-year-old universe.”

Article author Kendra Redmond wrote:

“If you want to know how much starlight is in the universe, you might try something like measuring all of the starlight you can see, and then estimating how much is out there that you can’t see. Scientists have performed refined versions of this type of analysis, but the estimates require lots of assumptions that may or may not match reality.

The Fermi-LAT Collaboration explored this question using an entirely new approach that doesn’t rely on the same types of assumptions. Instead of measuring starlight directly, they looked at the influence of starlight on high-energy gamma rays detected by the Large Area Telescope (LAT), an instrument on the space-based Fermi Gamma Ray Telescope.”

The team estimates that over the history of the universe, stars have produced about 4*1084 photons!

“Chaos, Fractals, and Complexity: Big Ideas in the “Science of ‘Roughness'”

This post presents “a few short stories behind some of the biggest ideas in chaos and complexity theory,” including Lorenz and The Butterfly Effect, Mandelbrot’s Fractals, Complexity Theory & The El Farol Bar problem and a section about “symmetry versus roughness.”

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