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Chasing gravitational waves in song, physicists on Broadway, the ‘impossible space engine’ returns


By Hamish Johnston

These days anyone making a major breakthrough in physics is expected to follow-up with a cheesy music video. So give it up for The Mavericks and “Chasing the Waves”, which chronicles the quest to detect gravitational waves – which culminated in LIGO’s success earlier this year. I don’t much about this video, but it seems to have been filmed at the University of Glasgow, which is part of the LIGO collaboration.

Inspired by the hit Broadway musical Hamilton: an American Musical, physicist Chad Orzel is asking what physicists have lived lives worthy of a stage production? In his blog in Forbes, he makes a few suggestions including Madame Wu, which would chart the extraordinary life of Chien-Shiung Wu. Wu was born in China at a time when girls were just starting to be allowed to go to school. She then went to the US to pursue a career in experimental nuclear physicists. She worked on the Manhattan Project, and was the first to observe parity violation in nuclear decays. Other suggestions from Orzel include Dirac., where the full stop reflects Paul Dirac’s famous reticence. Indeed, Orzel courts controversy by suggesting that Dirac should not sing a word in his eponymous musical.

The impossible space engine is back” is a blog post by physicist Steven Thomson, who looks at recent claims about the efficacy of a space engine that apparently works without the need for a propellant. The controversial engine has been in the news several times over the past few years and now a paper has been published by a team of NASA scientists seems to suggest that the device works. Not necessarily so, explains Thomson.

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