By Tushna Comissariat
Would you know exactly where to run and shelter in the event of nuclear fallout in your city? Would it be best to stay where you are or move, and for how long should you stay inside before venturing out into your post-apocalyptic world? If these questions have plagued your mind, you can now turn to a new model developed by Michael Dillon, an atmospheric scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, US. Dillon’s practical model outlines simple ideas and suggestions that the average person – without advanced equipment and know-how – could apply in the event of a low-level nuclear attack, which is the most plausible type likely to take place in today’s political climate. You can read all about about the model on both the io9 website and in Science magazine, and then map out your perfect route.
Here’s a little experiment for you to try: get a long chain of small metal beads, put them into a tall jar or glass, then grab the end of the string and slowly pull it out of the jar and let it drop to the floor. Then sit back and watch in amazement as the chain apparently defies gravity and rises up before falling to the ground. The experiment has left people all over the world flummoxed, but now physicist John Biggins of the University of Cambridge in the UK has an answer. You can read about what he has to say on the Nature website and watch his explanatory video above.
“What scientific idea is ready for retirement?” is the question that Edge.org – the online platform of a society of intellectuals that first met in 1981 – is asking this year. The website itself was launched in 1996 and is an archive of essays written by the aforementioned intellectuals – a mix of scientists, artists, philosophers, technologists and entrepreneurs – based on the annual questions. While there are plenty of physics-related answers in the 174 responses to this year’s question, we were amused to note that nine separate physicists wrote about or mentioned string theory in their feedback. I will leave you to find out for yourselves whether they were for or against it. For a selection of responses, take a look at this article in the Observer.
I will leave you with what is undoubtedly the most amusing physics-related story of the week. A student called Sairam Gudiseva “Rickrolled” his physics professor by surreptitiously and tediously inserting every word of the chorus of Rick Astley’s famed song “Never gonna give you up” into an essay about Neils Bohr. For those of you who have had the good fortune to never have been rickrolled yourselves, the rather informative Wikipedia entry explains the popular Iinternet meme and more here!