By Hamish Johnston
The best thing about science fiction is that it is fiction, and nit-picking about scientific accuracy shouldn’t get in the way of telling a good story. That’s the theme of Roger Highfield’s review of the latest blockbuster Gravity. Writing in his old paper The Daily Telegraph, Highfield – who now works at London’s Science Museum – takes exception to a series of Tweets by the celebrity astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson about the film. Among other things, the Tweets complain that Sandra Bullock’s hair should be wafting around in zero gravity, not hanging down as it would on Earth. Despite these and other “scientific holes big enough to fly a Saturn V rocket through” both Highfield and Tyson agree that Gravity is a film well worth seeing. The review is called “Gravity: how real is the science?“.
While it’s an urban myth that NASA invented Tang drink crystals, the space agency has given us a wide range of useful technologies including tools for search-and-rescue and implantable medical devices. Now the agency has joined forces with a start-up company called Marblar to turn more of NASA’s intellectual property into commercial products. The UK-based company wants you to “Turn patented science into new products and earn a cut of the royalties.” There are already 14 NASA-patented technologies available on Marblar and one involves the image-stabilization technique illustrated above. The total number of patents will rise to 40 over the next few weeks – so get your entrepreneur’s hat on.
Never one for shying away from the more controversial aspects of genetics, the physicist Stephen Hsu has written a post about why he is taking part in Project Einstein on his blog Information Processing. Set up by the geneticist and multimillionaire Jonathan Rothberg and the physicist Max Tegmark, the project will apparently study the DNA of about 400 mathematicians and theoretical physicists from top US universities – at least according to an article in Nature entitled “Root of maths genius sought“.
As clocks go back and the gloom of winter sets it – at least here in England – there’s nothing like a nice cup of tea. And if you have ever wondered how the kettle got its whistle, two physicists at the University of Cambridge have worked it out. You can read all about it in Cambridge’s Research magazine and more details can be found in a paper entitled “The aeroacoustics of a steam kettle“.