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Pokémon physics, photon torpedoes, a neutrino Ghostbuster and more

Don’t fall in the water! Pokémon Go arrives at Fermilab (Courtesy: Lauren Biron/Fermilab)

Don’t walk into the water! Pokémon Go arrives at Fermilab. (Courtesy: Lauren Biron/Fermilab)

By Michael Banks and Hamish Johnston

The smartphone app Pokémon GO has been all the rage since its recent launch. The augmented-reality game is based on the Nintendo franchise and features players exploring their surroundings while trying to catch as many of the virtual creatures as possible, According to Science, Pokémon have been spotted at a number of science centres including NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory while Symmetry Magazine reports that the game has also infiltrated particle-physics labs such as Fermilab, with scientists seen walking around the lab peering into their phone as they hunt down Pokémon.

Donald Trump may have just accepted the Republican presidential nomination, but what he might not know is that he has been turned into an action, or should that be inaction, figure. Eight climate inaction figures – including former presidential hopefuls Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz – have been created by the advertising duo Cabot Norton and Arturo Arand, who launched the Climate Solution website. The project aims to raise awareness about failing to act against climate change. But as blogger Phil Plait points out: “Sadly, you can’t buy [the figures]. Unless you’re a fossil fuel company!” Enjoy the mock advertisement below.


The latest Star Trek film – Star Trek Beyond – opens today in the UK and the US and while fans will be catching up with the latest antics of Captain Kirk and Mr Spock, students at the University of Leicester have been busy calculating how to build a photon torpedo – a matter–antimatter weapon used in Star Trek to fight off enemies such as Klingons or the Borg. You can try to make one yourself, but apparently it won’t work if you use a material with a nucleus that contains fewer than 26 protons, with lead or uranium being the best materials.

Staying with the silver screen, the new Ghostbusters film features a neutrino physicist as one of its spectre slayers. Played by Kristen Wiig, the physicist character was developed with help from two real-life neutrino physicists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): Lindley Winslow and Janet Conrad. You can read about the film crew’s visit to MIT – and how it inspired a giant set of equations in the film – in “Who you gonna call? MIT physicists!”.

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