Monday, April 30, 2012

Podcasts and the Physics of Plant Roots - PhysicsCentral.com (blog)

This month on the Physics Buzz podcast I'm talking to two physicists who are both studying plant roots.

Last week on the podcast I talked to Cornell physics graduate student Jesse Silverberg about his work studying the way plant roots curl as they make their way through layers of soil. With the booming population of humans consuming more and more food, while taking up more and more space, we're going to need to understand how plants survive (or why they don't) in unusual environments.

Look out in the next week or two for the next podcast in this series, where I'll talk with Dr. Dawn Wendell, who is taking a lesson from plant roots and applying it to robots. Many plants live in granular materials, which can include sandy or rocky soils. Plant roots wind their way through these odd locations, looking for the path of least resistance, rather than trying to force their way straight down. Wendell says that robots and mechanical diggers that incorporate this principle of flexibility can save energy and go further than those that are rigid. These diggers might be trying to make their way through rubble at disaster areas, snow after an avalanche, or the sandy soil at the bottom of the ocean.

[Image courtesy of Jesse Silverberg and the other members of the Cornell team: Roslyn D. Noar, Michael S. Packer, Maria J. Harrison, Chris L. Henley, Itai Cohen, and Sharon J. Gerbode.]

In Physics, the Arrow of Time Gets Bent - Huffington Post (blog)

By Deepak Chopra, MD and Menas Kafatos, Ph.D., Vice Chancellor of Special Projects and Director, Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor of Computational Physics, Chapman University


Out of sight, and for most people out of mind, the physical world has been vanishing.  For over a hundred years quantum theory has shown that the solid objects of the physical world are made of invisible energy clouds. Atoms have no fixed physical properties until they are measured; therefore, it remains to be shown why our world of everyday experience feels solid in the first place. At the same time, other properties we take for granted are dissolving. Einstein described time as dependent on frames of observation. Now it seems that in the world of quantum phenomena it can appear to move backwards.

This is a fascinating topic, and one that raises more questions about things we take for granted. Quantum physicists at the University of Vienna were looking at particles of light that are either entangled or separable. These are technical terms going back to the era of Einstein and Schrodinger. If two particles are entangled, they will exhibit synchronized behavior no matter how far apart they are in space. As soon as one particle is measured, its exact counterpart will show up in the entangled twin state, even if they are far, far away from each other. In other words, this "action at a distance" defies the speed of light.  Einstein could not accept the consequences of quantum entanglement, and so he added the word "spooky" to action at a distance.

Yet quantum behavior is frequently spooky, and experiments have validated entanglement very soundly. In a recent article a useful analogy was given. Two entangled particles are like a pair of tumbling dice. If you stop one to see which number comes up, the other dice must show the same number; it has no other choice. If the two dice are separable, then the measurement of one doesn't affect the other. Being separable seems normal to us. We never expect two dice to exactly match. If they did, Las Vegas would go out of business, since chance would disappear.

Now on to time. We expect time to move forward, the so-called arrow of time. Past, present, and future constitute the normal progression of events. For the same reason, cause precedes effect. It would be bizarre to bleed before you cut yourself shaving or to hear a car crash before the two vehicles collided. In the quantum world, however, certain phenomena have arisen known as retro causation, and exactly as it sounds, a future measurement appears as if it is affecting a past event. This would be a form of entanglement that reaches backward in time, a new form of spookiness.

Physics has depended for decades on "thought experiments," where a new concept predicts what will happen before a physical experiment proves or disproves the predicted result. In this case, the Viennese team was working to prove "delayed-choice entanglement swaps."  As a thought experiment, this has existed for over a decade.  Let us follow the team's description closely:

Four photons, made of two entangled pairs, are produced (think of them as four tumbling dice waiting to be measured). One photon from each pair is sent to a physicist named Victor. He will be assigned the task of measuring them. The two remaining photons are put in separate packages, one sent to a physicist named Alice, the other to a physicist named Bob. The three physicists now have their sealed packages of photons that have not been measured yet.

Victor can choose between two kinds of measurements. If he decides to measure his two photons in a way such that they are forced to be in an entangled state, then Alice's and Bob's two photons also become entangled. But if Victor chooses to measure his particles individually, Alice's and Bob's photons end up in a separable state.  This is a point that Einstein was stuck on. He couldn't believe the assertion made by Bohr and Heisenberg that the mere act of measurement by an observer determines where a particle will be. But accepted quantum theory has shown that particles have no physical characteristics until they are measured. For a long time this has been true for position in space. Now it seems that where a particle is in time also depends on measurement.

Modern quantum optics allowed the team to delay Victor's choice and measurement with respect to the measurements which Alice and Bob perform on their photons. As the lead author in Vienna describes it, "We found that whether Alice's and Bob's photons are entangled and show quantum correlations or are separable and show classical correlations, can be decided after they have been measured." In layman's terms, what you do today can affect what happened yesterday.  Or, perhaps, to put it in better way, the future and the past are entangled, in a way that classical physics could not explain it. The experimenters are working on a quantum scale billions of times smaller than everyday events, and rather than claiming to change the past, they say that their experiment "mimics" the effect of turning time's arrow around.

So no one is saying -- yet -- that present causes can change past effects. The mystery still remains over how entanglement, defying the speed of light and now the arrow of time, actually relates to the "naive classical world," which is to say, the everyday things we take for granted. Our own bias is for expanding the observer effect more and more, until science accepts that awareness is key to everything. We are making reality through our role as conscious agents. But that's an argument for another day -- perhaps yesterday if we get around to it.

  deepakchopra com

Follow Deepak Chopra on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DeepakChopra

The Physics of Carl's Restart Penalty - The Nascar Insiders

April 30th, 2012 Journo

A late race penalty on a restart for what some think was a questionable caution at Richmond set into motion circumstances that likely shifted the outcome of the race Saturday night. Once again, NASCAR’s restart rules claimed a victim â€" this time, Carl Edwards.

Angry after the race, Edwards said NASCAR had repeatedly told his spotter Jason Hedlesky that Edwards was the leader, meaning he got to start to race. NASCAR VP of Competition Robin Pemberton disagreed, reiterating that the #99 wasn’t the leader and even if Edwards had been, he jumped the start.

The source for all things science and NASCAR, and author of The Physics of NASCAR, Dr. Diandra has a theory that the perception in this case that Edwards jumped the start, may not have in fact been reality. It’s physics I guess…

Although the restart controversy regarding the 14 and the 99 seems to be more a matter of a communications screw up (both cars claim they were told they were P1), it raises an interesting issue in terms of what we perceive vs. what actually is.  Even sat at a train crossing and had the momentary feeling that the train was standing still and you were moving sideways? Here’s a series of animations I put together really quickly. See if they do the job.

I highly recommend reading (and viewing) the rest here and staying up with the blog Building Speed.

Related posts:

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The physics and physicist behind the hit game Angry Birds - 89.3 KPCC

Mercer 11377

Chillingo

'Angry Birds' is like the 'Star Wars' of iPhone apps â€" a total blockbuster that could revolutionize the industry.

There seems to be no stopping the Angry Birds.

The game was released in 2009 â€" and since then, gamers have bought hundreds of millions of copies. The characters are on T-shirts, toys and there’s even talk of an Angry Birds movie.

And while the plot of the game isn’t too realistic â€"- irate birds flinging themselves at green pigs -- the game’s physics are very real. The two-dimensional world of Angry Birds uses the same Newtonian laws that govern how things move in our 3-D world.

KPCC’s Sanden Totten has this look at the physicist behind this and other popular video games.

Meet Erin Catto. He lives in Irvine. He’s a father of two, a video game fan and a Cornell graduate who holds a PhD in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics. He is also responsible for the physics of Angry Birds: he created a program applying Newtonian Laws to gameplay. It’s called Box 2D.

“This is what I call the Box 2D mothership over here," Catti says, indicating toward a computer where, with a few quick keystrokes, he calls up a virtual world in which he is the master of gravity, friction, momentum.

“I’ve always been interested in the way things move in the real world that we see, like, why does it move like that? Why does it slide like that? And why does it tumble? So I have always wanted to explore that and recreate that.”

You can apply the Box 2D code to any video game to give it real world physics in two dimensions. Sounds like an obvious feature, but let’s take a quick trip back through video game history.

In the early days, games were full of flimsy-physics. Just think of Super Mario. “Mario can stop in a dime. He can do a 180. He can actually change his direction in the air. But you know if you jump, you can’t reverse and go backwards.”

It wasn’t that programmers didn’t know how to code physics; some of the earliest games were physics heavy. But as companies mass-produced consoles, things changed.

Stanford University game historian Henry Lowood explains, “I think what happened was that because of the processing power of the early consoles and such, they couldn’t really do everything.”

Lowood says programmers often traded physical rules for better graphics and longer play. But as machines got faster and more powerful a decade ago, Lowood says game developers tried for a different experience.

“You just see a desire to constantly to improve the immersion factors for those games. Which means making them more realistic to a lot of people. That means photo-realism and other things. And I think for some people that would also include physics.”

Around that time, companies started hiring physicists to help the action feel real. For a math-obsessed PhD gamer like Erin Catto it was a perfect fit.

“So I just had to find my way to wiggle myself into that industry," he says. Sure enough he did, eventually working on Tomb Raider, World of Warcraft and other hugely popular games.

Catto developed Box 2D in his spare time to teach programmers about coding the laws of physics. The code was so basic, he gave it out for free on the Internet. That was in 2006. In 2007 â€" smart phones hit stores â€" and developers were eager to tap that new market.

“What happened was people got this code, they went off and tried to make games with it. People started downloading it like crazy and it kinda spawned a new genre of game.”

Crayon Physics, Bike Baron, iBlast Moki all used modified versions of the free Box 2D physics code. Then there was a tiny game company out of Finland.

The rest is touch screen history. By some estimates, Rovio, the company behind Angry Birds, is worth over a billion dollars. Erin Catto? He’s never made a dime for his contribution.

“Almost everyone says ‘Jeez, Erin, you could have your own island now if you just charged for Box 2D!’ The ironic thing about that is then I wonder what if Angry Birds used something else because I was gonna charge for it? Well, maybe if they used something else that wasn’t as good, maybe Angry Birds wouldn’t have succeeded. And I’m just happy that everyone is enjoying the games.”

Besides, Catto says, he’s doing well. He has his dream job, adding gravity, velocity and mass to video games for Blizzard Entertainment.

And Rovio lists him and Box 2D in the Angry Birds credits. Oh yeah: Erin Catto did get a free Angry Birds hoodie.

“I have the sweatshirt but actually I have never worn it because it’s red. I generally don’t wear red. That’s a silly reason. If they would send me a blue one I would wear it!”

The birds are angry, but this physicist says he has no hard feelings.

Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab names 2011 best inventions - The JHU Gazette

April 30, 2012Print version

An ultra-compact motor controller used to revolutionize movement in a state-of-the-art prosthetic arm and an innovative algorithm for improving the performance of undersea sensors are the winners of APL’s Invention of the Year and Government Purpose Innovation awards for 2011.

This year’s winners were selected from 259 inventions that were disclosed at APL in the past calendar year. They were filed by more than 460 APL inventors and collaborators. The Invention of the Year winner was chosen by an outside review panel of 52 representatives from industry, the high-tech sector and patent law. For the second consecutive year, APL’s Government Purpose Innovation Award recognized an invention that has the potential to make a major impact in the defense community, and the nation.

The winners were named at the 13th annual Invention of the Year Award Reception held April 23 on the APL campus in Laurel, Md. Attendees included Ralph Semmel, director of APL; state Del. Guy Guzzone; and Courtney Samuels, representing Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland. Jerry Krill, assistant director for science and technology at APL, and Norma Lee Todd, supervisor of the Lab’s Office of Technology Transfer, addressed the inventors and guests and presented trophies and cash awards to the winners.

Invention of the Year went to Harry Eaton and Douglas Wenstrand for the Ultra-Compact Multitasking Motor Controller. This extremely small computational engineâ€"approximately the size of a dimeâ€"governs multiple microminiature motors that precisely coordinate movement and feedback in APL’s state-of-the-art prosthetic arm, which has 26 degrees of freedom that include independent movement of each finger.

A third of the size of most other controllers, the Ultra-Compact Multitasking Motor Controller includes a processor that directs a single small motor and interfaces with onboard sensors and other traditional controllers. It has been designed to work differently with each hand motor (there are 10 throughout APL’s most recent version of the prosthetic arm) depending on that location’s movement characteristics.

The Government Purpose Innovation Award recognizes Joshua Broadwater, Craig Carmen and Ashley Llorens for the Constrained Probability of False Alarm Classification, or CPFAC. Recognizing targets in clutter-rich environments is a critical challenge for target detection and classification systems. In sonar applications, shipping traffic, biologics and even shipwrecks contribute to the clutter picture. CPFAC is an APL-designed large margin classifier that maximizes the detection of targets for a given false alarm rate. As a result, it provides improved performance in the highly cluttered undersea acoustic environment, making it particularly useful to the Navy. APL’s approach has a broad application for a variety of target detection and classification problems.

“Inventions are a key indicator of how innovative an organization is,” Krill said. “The number of APL intellectual property disclosures reached an all-time high last yearâ€"an 84 percent increaseâ€"which is a tribute to our staff’s focus on innovation. Many of these inventions came from our new Ignition Grants program, where staff can propose new innovations and vote on who gets seedling grants.”

Added Todd, “The Invention of the Year and Government Purpose awards are designed to recognize some of the best new ideas emerging from the Lab, and to commend APL scientists and engineers who developed them. All of the award nominees have the potential to make a tremendous impact in the marketplace or on national security.”

Princeton Plasma Physics scientists to test new theory for a puzzling problem - The Times of Trenton - NJ.com

PPPL1.JPGFrom left, physicists Luis Delgado-Aparicio and David Gates at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in Plainsboro.They have discovered a possible solution to a mystery that has long baffled researchers working to harness fusion.

Researchers at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab have offered a theory explaining a decades-old puzzle in fusion research: plasma reactions that break down before reaching the optimum conditions needed to generate power efficiently.

The researchers believe bubble-like islands in the plasma are the culprit, and if confirmed by experiments, their explanation could overcome one of the major barriers to generating clean energy from nuclear fusion.

Nuclear fusion occurs when atomic nuclei within plasma â€" heated, electrically charged gases â€" join together. Forcing atomic nuclei to fuse requires a combination of high temperatures, increasing the speed at which particles move, and high density, which forces particles closer together. The combination increases the rate at which particles collide, generating a burst of energy that scientists believe can be harnessed as a new, cleaner source of electricity.

But when physicists increase the density of plasma in a type of reactor used in plasma experiments called a tokamak, the plasma breaks down well below the optimal density for fusion reactions.

This density limit has been a mystery for decades, said David Gates, a research physicist at PPPL who co-authored the proposed solution, published in the journal Physical Review Letters last week with Luis Delgado-Aparicio, a postdoctoral fellow at PPPL.

Gates and Delgado-Aparicio’s insight was connecting the mysterious behavior at the density limit to another phenomenon that hadn’t been fully explained â€" the islands that grow as plasma reaches the density limit, Gates said.

During fusion experiments, scientists increase the temperature and density of the plasma in the tokamak through ohmic heating, the same process that heats a toaster. An electric current flowing through the plasma generates energy and creates a magnetic field that keeps the plasma together.

But islands in the plasma collect impurities from the walls of the reactor, which Gates and Delgado-Aparico said cool the plasma and shield it from energy that should heat it. As the plasma approaches the density limit, the islands grow until the electric current collapses and the plasma flies apart.

French physicist Paul-Henri Rebut, in the mid-1980s, was the first to describe plasma islands. Gates learned about them a decade later while working with Wolfgang Suttrop, a German physicist whose paper speculating that islands might be connected to the density limit sparked Gates’ and Delgado-Aparicio’s idea.

But Gates said he never actually worked on the problem until he learned about Delgado-Aparicio’s research explaining corkscrew-shaped phenomena called snakes that were very similar to the plasma islands described by Rebut and Suttrop.

Gates said he introduced Delgado-Aparicio to the prior research on islands and the density limit, and eight months later, Delgado-Aparicio wrote a paper in which he developed an equation relating the growth of islands to the density limit.

They quickly realized that if islands were the explanation for the density limit, that equation held the answer, Gates said. When the two met to work out the solution, it was even easier than they realized, and they found the solution to the decades-old problem in just 15 minutes, Gates said.

“It was really a very simple idea,” Gates said. “It was just a matter of putting all the pieces together.”

Princeton University Dean for Research A.J. Stewart Smith wasn’t surprised that Gates, “one of the most creative scientists at the lab,” was one of the people to put those pieces together. “This is a major development,” Smith said.

Their next step is testing the theory experimentally, Gates said. Although PPPL’s reactor is currently undergoing renovations, Gates and Delgado-Aparicio have submitted research proposals to other labs, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where Delgado-Aparicio is a visiting scientist.

If the results verify their theory, knowing that islands cause the density limit suggests ways of overcoming it, Gates said. An experiment they’ve proposed would test whether cooling and shrinking the islands with targeted blasts of radiation can keep them from disrupting the plasma. If that lets researchers use higher densities, they could generate fusion at lower temperatures.

“If you can raise the density, the tokamak becomes a much more viable fusion device,” Gates said. “It gives you much more freedom in designing it.”

Follow the Times of Trenton on Twitter.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Book Review: Physics of the Future - About - News & Issues

Cover of Physics of the Future by Michio KakuIn Physics of the Future, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku brings the knowledge he's gleaned from interviewing over 300 scientific experts in a diverse range of disciplines to explore the ways that new scientific discoveries will affect the next century of human civilization. The book is broken up in a very clear manner, exploring the near future, midcentury, and far future discoveries that will shape our world in the century to come.

Of course, Kaku himself makes it clear that these are only predictions, and he goes to great lengths to explain that those who have tried to make such predictions in the past are wrong more often than not.

Still, this is a great book from a master at presenting science to the general public, so should be of interest to any readers who want an idea about what to expect from science in the next century.

Read more in our full review of the book or, if you've already read the book, let us know what you thought about it in the Comments!

Book Review: Physics of the Future - About - News & Issues

Cover of Physics of the Future by Michio KakuIn Physics of the Future, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku brings the knowledge he's gleaned from interviewing over 300 scientific experts in a diverse range of disciplines to explore the ways that new scientific discoveries will affect the next century of human civilization. The book is broken up in a very clear manner, exploring the near future, midcentury, and far future discoveries that will shape our world in the century to come.

Of course, Kaku himself makes it clear that these are only predictions, and he goes to great lengths to explain that those who have tried to make such predictions in the past are wrong more often than not.

Still, this is a great book from a master at presenting science to the general public, so should be of interest to any readers who want an idea about what to expect from science in the next century.

Read more in our full review of the book or, if you've already read the book, let us know what you thought about it in the Comments!

Excited Xi(b) Baryon - New Particle Discovered At LHC - Science 2.0

Researchers have discovered a previously unknown particle composed of three quarks in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator. The baryon known as Xi_b^* confirms fundamental assumptions of physics regarding the binding of quarks.

 The baryon family refers to particles that are made up of three quarks and quarks form a group of six particles that differ in their masses and charges. The two lightest quarks, “up” and “down” quarks, form the two atomic components, protons and neutrons. All baryons that are composed of the three lightest quarks (“up”, “down” and “strange” quarks) are known. Only very few baryons with heavy quarks have been observed to date. They can only be generated artificially in particle accelerators, as they are heavy and very unstable. 

During proton collisions in the LHC, physicists Claude Amsler, Vincenzo Chiochia and Ernest Aguiló from the University of Zurich’s Physics Institute detected a baryon with one light and two heavy quarks. The particle Xi_b^* comprises one “up”, one “strange” and one “bottom” quark (usb), is electrically neutral and has a spin of 3/2 (1.5). Its mass is comparable to that of a lithium atom.  The mass difference of the peak is 14.84 +/- 0.74 (stat.) +/- 0.28 (syst.) MeV. The new state most likely corresponds to the Xi(b)^{*0} baryon, the J^P=3/2^+ excitation of the Xi(b)^0.


Observation of an excited Xi_b baryon. Credit: CMS collaboration

The new discovery means that two of the three baryons predicted in the usb composition by theory have now been observed.

 The discovery was based on data gathered in the CMS detector. The new particle cannot be detected directly as it is too unstable to be registered by the detector. However, Xi_b^* breaks up in a known cascade of decay products. Ernest Aguiló, a postdoctoral student from Amsler’s group, identified traces of the respective decay products in the measurement data and was able to reconstruct the decay cascades starting from Xi_b^* decays.

The calculations are based on data from proton-proton collisions at an energy of seven Tera electron volts (TeV) collected by the CMS detector between April and November 2011. A total of 21 Xi_b^* baryon decays were discovered â€" sufficient to rule out a statistical fluctuation.

The discovery of the new particle confirms the theory of how quarks bind and therefore helps to understand the strong interaction, one of the four basic forces of physics which determines the structure of matter.

CMS Collaboration, Observation of an excited Xi(b) baryon, Submitted to Physical Review Letters, http://arxiv.org/abs/1204.5955v1

Excited Xi(b) Baryon - New Particle Discovered At LHC - Science 2.0

Researchers have discovered a previously unknown particle composed of three quarks in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator. The baryon known as Xi_b^* confirms fundamental assumptions of physics regarding the binding of quarks.

 The baryon family refers to particles that are made up of three quarks and quarks form a group of six particles that differ in their masses and charges. The two lightest quarks, “up” and “down” quarks, form the two atomic components, protons and neutrons. All baryons that are composed of the three lightest quarks (“up”, “down” and “strange” quarks) are known. Only very few baryons with heavy quarks have been observed to date. They can only be generated artificially in particle accelerators, as they are heavy and very unstable. 

During proton collisions in the LHC, physicists Claude Amsler, Vincenzo Chiochia and Ernest Aguiló from the University of Zurich’s Physics Institute detected a baryon with one light and two heavy quarks. The particle Xi_b^* comprises one “up”, one “strange” and one “bottom” quark (usb), is electrically neutral and has a spin of 3/2 (1.5). Its mass is comparable to that of a lithium atom.  The mass difference of the peak is 14.84 +/- 0.74 (stat.) +/- 0.28 (syst.) MeV. The new state most likely corresponds to the Xi(b)^{*0} baryon, the J^P=3/2^+ excitation of the Xi(b)^0.


Observation of an excited Xi_b baryon. Credit: CMS collaboration

The new discovery means that two of the three baryons predicted in the usb composition by theory have now been observed.

 The discovery was based on data gathered in the CMS detector. The new particle cannot be detected directly as it is too unstable to be registered by the detector. However, Xi_b^* breaks up in a known cascade of decay products. Ernest Aguiló, a postdoctoral student from Amsler’s group, identified traces of the respective decay products in the measurement data and was able to reconstruct the decay cascades starting from Xi_b^* decays.

The calculations are based on data from proton-proton collisions at an energy of seven Tera electron volts (TeV) collected by the CMS detector between April and November 2011. A total of 21 Xi_b^* baryon decays were discovered â€" sufficient to rule out a statistical fluctuation.

The discovery of the new particle confirms the theory of how quarks bind and therefore helps to understand the strong interaction, one of the four basic forces of physics which determines the structure of matter.

CMS Collaboration, Observation of an excited Xi(b) baryon, Submitted to Physical Review Letters, http://arxiv.org/abs/1204.5955v1

New Discovery in Physics (a New Theory that has been Discovered by Andrew ... - PR Web (press release)

Tupelo, MS (PRWEB) April 29, 2012

http://recordsetter.com/world-record/youngest-person-patent-theoretical-physics-theory/14932

Andrew Magdy Kamal copyrighted this theory; look at the Microsoft attachment for more details and information.

Force cannot equal mass acceleration according to some theories, force is actually the velocity of mass accelerating and energy is the force of mass accelerating. The reason that force is the velocity of mass accelerating is because force is the action of pulling and the result of the velocity of mass accelerating is the pulling or resisting force.

Einstein said that Energy = Mass Acceleration Squared. Now mass acceleration squared is actually the mass capacity accelerating, which is not really a result of energy but refers to the momentum happening as a result of a mass accelerating.

Andrew's discovery is that Energy = the force of mass accelerating. The reason Einstein was wrong was because he did not include the variable of force. Think of a ballerina dancing. Her mass is causing a force that is accelerating causing burning energy. This idea is so revolutionary that Andrew's term paper was copyrighted, patented, trademarked, and has been authenticated. This idea is so big it can change the world's view on Physics.

To see more of his ideas which are also based on theoretical physics, logic and theory please go to http://gamer456148.blogspot.com/p/patenets-and-trademarks.html

Andrew's Inspirations were:
His lord and savior Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ), also his godmother Lisa Rose Schulz was a big inspiration for him.


New Discovery in Physics (a New Theory that has been Discovered by Andrew ... - PR Web (press release)

Tupelo, MS (PRWEB) April 29, 2012

http://recordsetter.com/world-record/youngest-person-patent-theoretical-physics-theory/14932

Andrew Magdy Kamal copyrighted this theory; look at the Microsoft attachment for more details and information.

Force cannot equal mass acceleration according to some theories, force is actually the velocity of mass accelerating and energy is the force of mass accelerating. The reason that force is the velocity of mass accelerating is because force is the action of pulling and the result of the velocity of mass accelerating is the pulling or resisting force.

Einstein said that Energy = Mass Acceleration Squared. Now mass acceleration squared is actually the mass capacity accelerating, which is not really a result of energy but refers to the momentum happening as a result of a mass accelerating.

Andrew's discovery is that Energy = the force of mass accelerating. The reason Einstein was wrong was because he did not include the variable of force. Think of a ballerina dancing. Her mass is causing a force that is accelerating causing burning energy. This idea is so revolutionary that Andrew's term paper was copyrighted, patented, trademarked, and has been authenticated. This idea is so big it can change the world's view on Physics.

To see more of his ideas which are also based on theoretical physics, logic and theory please go to http://gamer456148.blogspot.com/p/patenets-and-trademarks.html

Andrew's Inspirations were:
His lord and savior Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ), also his godmother Lisa Rose Schulz was a big inspiration for him.


Super-collider team discovers new subatomic particle - msnbc.com

European researchers say they have discovered a new subatomic particle that helps confirm our knowledge about how quarks bind â€" one of the basic forces in the shaping of matter.

The CERN physics research center said Friday that the particle was discovered at the Compact Muon Solenoid, one of the Large Hadron Collider's two main general-purpose detectors, in collaboration with the University of Zurich.

Joe Incandela, the physicist in charge of the experiment involved with the discovery, told The Associated Press that the particle was predicted long ago, but finding it was "really kind of a classic tour de force of experimental work."

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The particle, known as an excited neutral Xi-b baryon, could not be detected directly because it was too unstable. Instead, its existence was inferred by the pattern of its decay into other subatomic particles.

The Xi-b particle, like other baryons such as protons and neutrons, is made up of three quarks. Protons and neutrons are combinations of "up" and "down" quarks (two up and one down for protons, two down and one up for neutrons). In contrast, the newly detected Xi-b particles consist of an up, strange and bottom quark. The particles are electrically neutral, with a spin of 3/2 and a mass comparable to that of a lithium atom, University of Zurich researchers said.

Xi-B baryons have been previously detected in their ground states, but the particles created in the LHC's proton-on-proton collisions are the first to be observed in their excited states. They're also the first newly discovered particles to be reported by the Compact Muon Solenoid collaboration, which takes in thousands of researchers.

The University of Zurich said 21 of the Xi-b decay events were detected during a series of collisions at an energy level of 7 trillion electron volts last year. Those events were enough to determine that the decay events were more than a statistical fluke.

"The discovery of the new particle confirms the theory of how quarks bind and therefore helps to understand the strong interaction, one of the four basic forces of physics which determines the structure of matter," the university said in a news release.

CMS physicist Vincenzo Chiochia, one of the co-leaders of the search, told the Symmetry Breaking blog that "finding this complicated decay in such a messy event makes us confident in our abilities to find other new particles in the future.”

Another experimental group at the LHC, using the ATLAS detector, reported its first new particle last year. That particle, known as the Chi-b (3P), consists of a bottom quark and its antimatter equivalent.

Physicists expect to find a wide variety of subatomic particles consisting of various combinations of quarks, but their prime target is the Higgs boson, a different type of fundamental particle that is predicted by theory but has not been detected. If it exists, the Higgs boson would help explain why some particles have mass while others don't.

CERN officials have said they expect the LHC to provide evidence of the Higgs boson's existence or non-existence by the end of this year.

More about the particle quest:

This report includes information from The Associated Press and msnbc.com.

© 2012 msnbc.com

Physics section give engg aspirants tense moments - Times of India

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CHENNAI: Physics turned out to be the toughest paper in the offline version of the All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE), which more than 11 lakh students took on Sunday. Many students fear that the section might end up affecting their overall score.

"Physics was definitely the toughest of the three subjects. It required a lot of application. Many questions required us to apply principles from one or more topics. Electricity was especially tough," said Vivek Balakrishnan, a student from Coimbatore.

The weightage given to topics in the subject too managed to take a few students by surprise. "We expected many questions from mechanics, but that didn't happen. Many topics like electro magnetic induction, kinematics and rotational diagrams, on which we spent a lot of time studying, did not appear. Instead, questions on topics like ray optics, electro statistics and thermodynamics, which are relatively tougher, appeared," said G Eshwar, another student from Coimbatore.

The other two sections, Mathematics and Chemistry, were relatively easy, according to students. "Chemistry questions too required a bit of analysis and thinking, but were on expected lines," said S John, a student from Chennai. Mathematics was considered moderately difficult, but a lot easier than Physics. "Besides the reasoning questions, the rest were multiple choice questions, so it was pretty simple," said John.

Though students found the paper difficult, coaching centres said that it was 10% easier compared to the previous year. "We definitely noted a decreasing level of difficulty across all three subjects - Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. In fact, dozens of our students found Chemistry and Mathematics easy," said Ajay Antony, president, Triumphant Institute of Management Education, a centre that has been coaching students for this competitive exam for the past 11 years. They said topics like mechanics in Physics always get around 35% weightage, which was seen again today.

On an average, students attempted around 55-60 of the 90 questions in the paper. This is the first year that AIEEE will go online. The online version of the exam will be conducted from May 7 to May 26.

CERN Particle Accelerator Reveals Previously Unknown Particle - RedOrbit

April 29, 2012

Repost This CERN Particle Accelerator Reveals Previously Unknown Particle

It has not discovered the Higgs Boson â€" not yet, anyway â€" but the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator has revealed a never-before-discovered particle comprised of three quarks.

The discovery, which was announced Friday by Symmetry Magazine, was made by University of Zurich physicists and was based on data gathered in the CMS detector at the Geneva, Switzerland-based facility, which is overseen by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).

According to Symmetry reporter Kathryn Grim, the particle was made up of three quarks, one of which was a bottom/beauty quark (a third-generation quark with a charge of âˆ'1/3e), and according to a statement released by the university, the baryon, which has been dubbed Xi_b^* or neutral Xi_b^star baryon, “confirms fundamental assumptions of physics regarding the binding of quarks.”

“In the course of proton collisions in the LHC at CERN, physicists Claude Amsler, Vincenzo Chiochia and Ernest Aguiló from the University of Zurich’s Physics Institute managed to detect a baryon with one light and two heavy quarks,” the university said in their statement. “The particle Xi_b^* comprises one ‘up’, one ‘strange’ and one ‘bottom’ quark (usb), is electrically neutral and has a spin of 3/2 (1.5). Its mass is comparable to that of a lithium atom.”

The particle exists for just a miniscule amount of time, and was only discovered by scientists because it leaves behind an “imprint” or a “decay signature” after it disappears, said Connor Simpson of the Atlantic Wire. He also noted that the baryon is very rare and does not exist naturally on Earth. Here, it can only occur within the LHC, though scientists say that is can occasionally be found in outer space.

In an email to Carl Franzen of Talking Points Memo (TPM), Carlos Lourenco, a senior researcher with CERN, said, “Besides helping to understand how quarks bind and therefore further validate the theory of strong interactions, one of the four basic forces of physics, this measurement represents a tour-de-force that opens up good perspectives for future discoveries.”

“The calculations are based on data from proton-proton collisions at an energy of seven Tera electron volts (TeV) collected by the CMS detector between April and November 2011. A total of 21 Xi_b^* baryon decays were discovered â€" statistically sufficient to rule out a statistical fluctuation,” the University of Zurich said. “The discovery of the new particle confirms the theory of how quarks bind and therefore helps to understand the strong interaction, one of the four basic forces of physics which determines the structure of matter.”

Their findings have been submitted to the journal Physical Review Letters.

Source: RedOrbit Staff & Wire Reports


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Angry Birds and R2-D2 Analyzed - Cornell University The Cornell Daily Sun

Earlier this month the university sponsored a lecture titled: The Physics of a Flying R2-D2 and Other Interesting Ideas. Featured speaker Rhett Allain blogs about physics for Wired Science. During his lecture at Cornell, Apr. 4, Allain discussed some of his latest work and provided an analysis of the popular game Angry Birds. He also demonstrated for the public the newest Angry Birds game, Angry Birds Space, has both gravitational and frictional forces that can be modeled using physics.

Allain initially began blogging back in 2008 as a means to help his students at Southeastern Louisiana Univeristy better understand his physics lectures. He researched how students understand physics and developed better techniques to teach students. Allain admitted that while his first blogs may not have helped his students as much as he had hoped, he became a “blogspert” by posting analyses of physics examples for his own enjoyment.

Allain created his own experiments with Angry Birds Space and tried to recreate the conditions existing in the game. He made a model system using computer programs VPython and Tracker Video Analysis and estimated different aspects of the Space system including the force of gravity and friction on the bird, and the energy, change in momentum, and speed of the bird.

He said that applying these concepts to something as popular as Angry Birds is just the thing that will attract students’ attention. But Allain blogs this kind of analysis for fun. For him, the game is not to destroy the green pigs, but to match his model as close as possible to the game. He compared the process for figuring out how to model to climbing a rock wall. “It’s the practice that counts. The process of going up higher that counts. The goal is not just to get to the top, or there would just be an elevator.”

Allain was able to recreate the space conditions used in Angry Birds using classical Newtonian physics that apply to this universe and galaxies far far away, but Star Wars droid R2-D2 did not fly correctly according to Newtonian physics he said. In Star Wars R2-D2 is shown flying forward at a constant speed using thrusts that are at an angle, and when R2-D2 stops the thrusts are vertical.

“No one really notices that R2-D2 is flying wrong because it seems normal, it is what they expect. This is the same problem students have in introductory physics ...even though they know to say the right answer about force and motion, they still think that constant force means constant speed.”

R2-D2 flies more accordingly to Aristotelian Physics Allain said. According to Aristotelian Physics no force means no motion, and if there is constant force there is constant motion. According to Aristotle if there is a force of gravity then the thrusts must do two things: support the droid and push it forward. Newton’s first law of motion is that force changes motion, so if something is already in motion it will continue to move unless there is another force. R2-D2 should not have thrusters that apply a force at an angle Allain said.

Allain also examined what it would take for a human to fly with wings, which was sparked by a video posted on the internet. “How big can you get and still [be able to] fly?” Allain asked. “We have this idea, if something is bigger, it is going to be just like something smaller. Things don’t scale like you would think.” By taking some data from Wikipedia, Allain created a plot of mass versus wingspan, and determined that the subject in the video could not have actually been able to fly. Allain’s blog also includes some more technical reasons that involve video analysis.

One could call Allain a mythbuster of sorts, and in fact he has worked with the producers of the popular Discovery Channel television show providing them with some plausible calculations and advice on their experiments. Allain said that he respects the mythbusters because a lot of the time they do things quite accurately.“ They promote science because they are not scientists... They are people doing science project type things with explosions and expensive stuff which makes it so appealing.”  

Like the mythbusters, Allain spent his time writing about what he wants to find out, if it is something he actually examine. “I’m writing more for myself, that is what helps me keep on doing it. I am very lucky to have people who also enjoy it.”

New particle discovered at CERN - Tehran Times

c_330_235_16777215_0___images_stories_apr02_29_09_cern11.jpgPhysicists from the University of Zurich have discovered a previously unknown particle composed of three quarks in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator. 

A new baryon could thus be detected for the first time at the LHC. The baryon known as Xi_b^* confirms fundamental assumptions of physics regarding the binding of quarks.

In particle physics, the baryon family refers to particles that are made up of three quarks. 

Quarks form a group of six particles that differ in their masses and charges. The two lightest quarks, the so-called "up" and "down" quarks, form the two atomic components, protons and neutrons. 

All baryons that are composed of the three lightest quarks ("up," "down" and "strange" quarks) are known. 

Only very few baryons with heavy quarks have been observed to date. They can only be generated artificially in particle accelerators as they are heavy and very unstable.

In the course of proton collisions in the LHC at CERN, physicists Claude Amsler, Vincenzo Chiochia and Ernest Aguiló from the University of Zurich's Physics Institute managed to detect a baryon with one light and two heavy quarks. 

The particle Xi_b^* comprises one "up," one "strange" and one "bottom" quark (usb), is electrically neutral and has a spin of 3/2 (1.5). 

Its mass is comparable to that of a lithium atom. The new discovery means that two of the three baryons predicted in the usb composition by theory have now been observed.

The discovery was based on data gathered in the CMS detector, which the University of Zurich was involved in developing. 

The new particle cannot be detected directly as it is too unstable to be registered by the detector. However, Xi_b^* breaks up in a known cascade of decay products. 

Ernest Aguiló, a postdoctoral student from Professor Amsler's group, identified traces of the respective decay products in the measurement data and was able to reconstruct the decay cascades starting from Xi_b^* decays.

The calculations are based on data from proton-proton collisions at an energy of seven Tera electron volts (TeV) collected by the CMS detector between April and November 2011. 

A total of 21 Xi_b^* baryon decays were discovered -- statistically sufficient to rule out a statistical fluctuation.

The discovery of the new particle confirms the theory of how quarks bind and therefore helps to understand the strong interaction, one of the four basic forces of physics which determines the structure of matter.

The University of Zurich is involved in the LHC at CERN with three research groups. Professor Amsler's and Professor Chiochia's groups are working on the CMS experiment; Professor Straumann's group is involved in the LHCb experiment.

The CMS detector is designed to measure the energy and momentum of photons, electrons, muons and other charged particles with a high degree of accuracy. Various measuring instruments are arranged in layers in the 12,500-ton detector, with which traces of the particles resulting from the collisions can be recorded. 

179 institutions worldwide were involved in developing CMS. In Switzerland, these are the University of Zurich, ETH Zurich and the Paul Scherrer Institute.

(Source: ScienceDaily)


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New particle discovered at CERN - Tehran Times

c_330_235_16777215_0___images_stories_apr02_29_09_cern11.jpgPhysicists from the University of Zurich have discovered a previously unknown particle composed of three quarks in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator. 

A new baryon could thus be detected for the first time at the LHC. The baryon known as Xi_b^* confirms fundamental assumptions of physics regarding the binding of quarks.

In particle physics, the baryon family refers to particles that are made up of three quarks. 

Quarks form a group of six particles that differ in their masses and charges. The two lightest quarks, the so-called "up" and "down" quarks, form the two atomic components, protons and neutrons. 

All baryons that are composed of the three lightest quarks ("up," "down" and "strange" quarks) are known. 

Only very few baryons with heavy quarks have been observed to date. They can only be generated artificially in particle accelerators as they are heavy and very unstable.

In the course of proton collisions in the LHC at CERN, physicists Claude Amsler, Vincenzo Chiochia and Ernest Aguiló from the University of Zurich's Physics Institute managed to detect a baryon with one light and two heavy quarks. 

The particle Xi_b^* comprises one "up," one "strange" and one "bottom" quark (usb), is electrically neutral and has a spin of 3/2 (1.5). 

Its mass is comparable to that of a lithium atom. The new discovery means that two of the three baryons predicted in the usb composition by theory have now been observed.

The discovery was based on data gathered in the CMS detector, which the University of Zurich was involved in developing. 

The new particle cannot be detected directly as it is too unstable to be registered by the detector. However, Xi_b^* breaks up in a known cascade of decay products. 

Ernest Aguiló, a postdoctoral student from Professor Amsler's group, identified traces of the respective decay products in the measurement data and was able to reconstruct the decay cascades starting from Xi_b^* decays.

The calculations are based on data from proton-proton collisions at an energy of seven Tera electron volts (TeV) collected by the CMS detector between April and November 2011. 

A total of 21 Xi_b^* baryon decays were discovered -- statistically sufficient to rule out a statistical fluctuation.

The discovery of the new particle confirms the theory of how quarks bind and therefore helps to understand the strong interaction, one of the four basic forces of physics which determines the structure of matter.

The University of Zurich is involved in the LHC at CERN with three research groups. Professor Amsler's and Professor Chiochia's groups are working on the CMS experiment; Professor Straumann's group is involved in the LHCb experiment.

The CMS detector is designed to measure the energy and momentum of photons, electrons, muons and other charged particles with a high degree of accuracy. Various measuring instruments are arranged in layers in the 12,500-ton detector, with which traces of the particles resulting from the collisions can be recorded. 

179 institutions worldwide were involved in developing CMS. In Switzerland, these are the University of Zurich, ETH Zurich and the Paul Scherrer Institute.

(Source: ScienceDaily)


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In Physics, the Arrow of Time Gets Bent - San Francisco Chronicle

By Deepak Chopra, MD and Menas Kafatos, Ph.D., Vice Chancellor of Special Projects and Director, Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor of Computational Physics, Chapman University

Out of sight, and for most people out of mind, the physical world has been vanishing. For over a hundred years quantum theory has shown that the solid objects of the physical world are made of invisible energy clouds. Atoms have no fixed physical properties until they are measured; therefore, it remains to be shown why our world of everyday experience feels solid in the first place. At the same time, other properties we take for granted are dissolving. Einstein described time as dependent on frames of observation. Now it seems that in the world of quantum phenomena it can appear to move backwards.

This is a fascinating topic, and one that raises more questions about things we take for granted. Quantum physicists at the University of Vienna were looking at particles of light that are either entangled or separable. These are technical terms going back to the era of Einstein and Schrodinger. If two particles are entangled, they will exhibit synchronized behavior no matter how far apart they are in space. As soon as one particle is measured, its exact counterpart will show up in the entangled twin state, even if they are far, far away from each other. In other words, this "action at a distance” defies the speed of light. Einstein could not accept the consequences of quantum entanglement, and so he added the word "spooky" to action at a distance.

Yet quantum behavior is frequently spooky, and experiments have validated entanglement very soundly. In a recent article a useful analogy was given. Two entangled particles are like a pair of tumbling dice. If you stop one to see which number comes up, the other dice must show the same number; it has no other choice. If the two dice are separable, then the measurement of one doesn't affect the other. Being separable seems normal to us. We never expect two dice to exactly match. If they did, Las Vegas would go out of business, since chance would disappear.

Now on to time. We expect time to move forward, the so-called arrow of time. Past, present, and future constitute the normal progression of events. For the same reason, cause precedes effect. It would be bizarre to bleed before you cut yourself shaving or to hear a car crash before the two vehicles collided. In the quantum world, however, certain phenomena have arisen known as retro causation, and exactly as it sounds, a future measurement appears as if it is affecting a past event. This would be a form of entanglement that reaches backward in time, a new form of spookiness.

Physics has depended for decades on "thought experiments," where a new concept predicts what will happen before a physical experiment proves or disproves the predicted result. In this case, the Viennese team was working to prove "delayed-choice entanglement swaps." As a thought experiment, this has existed for over a decade. Let us follow the team's description closely:

Four photons, made of two entangled pairs, are produced (think of them as four tumbling dice waiting to be measured). One photon from each pair is sent to a physicist named Victor. He will be assigned the task of measuring them. The two remaining photons are put in separate packages, one sent to a physicist named Alice, the other to a physicist named Bob. The three physicists now have their sealed packages of photons that have not been measured yet.

Victor can choose between two kinds of measurements. If he decides to measure his two photons in a way such that they are forced to be in an entangled state, then Alice's and Bob's two photons also become entangled. But if Victor chooses to measure his particles individually, Alice's and Bob's photons end up in a separable state. This is a point that Einstein was stuck on. He couldn't believe the assertion made by Bohr and Heisenberg that the mere act of measurement by an observer determines where a particle will be. But accepted quantum theory has shown that particles have no physical characteristics until they are measured. For a long time this has been true for position in space. Now it seems that where a particle is in time also depends on measurement.

Read more...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Cresaptown physics lesson steers students toward STEM careers - Cumberland Times-News

â€" CRESAPTOWN â€" Morgan VanMeter’s pinewood derby car had a small mechanical problem Friday at Cresaptown Elementary School, but that didn’t keep it from crossing the finish line.

“Whoo! Go, go, go, go, go!” cheered Morgan’s mother, Rhiannon Holler, one of several dozen parents who attended an afternoon of third-grade derby races, part of the school’s annual STEM Day celebration.

“Oh no! The wheel fell off!” Holler said. “But it made it!”

Throughout the school Friday, students participated in activities that focused on STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Educators across Maryland and the United States are trying to steer young people toward careers in those areas so that they can better compete in the world marketplace.

“One out of every two jobs in the next 10 years is going to be in one of those fields,” said Justin Sirbaugh, a master’s degree student at Frostburg State University who is interning this year at Cresaptown.

“It’s the future,” Sirbaugh said. “It’s everything for these kids.”

Third-graders, who rotated through four Derby Day stations in the gym on Friday, built ramps out of cardboard boxes and books at Sirbaugh’s station to learn about friction and other physics concepts taught in the classroom recently.

“We’re just putting that physics unit to work,” Sirbaugh said. “It’s good to get them away from the pen and paper for a little bit to get some hands-on experience. ... I think it’s the difference between book smarts and street smarts.”

Principal Roxanne Reuse said the school has offered STEM Day activities for several years, but this year is the first time classes have participated in derby races.

“We’ve expanded it this year,” Reuse said. “The kids are doing great. They’re so excited.”

Third-graders made their derby cars at home, sometimes with parents’ help, using kits that included a block of wood, wheels and axles, said teacher Karen Sue Irons.

Irons used a stopwatch to time each student’s car as it raced â€" or rolled slowly â€" down the track.

Morgan VanMeter’s car made it in 4.58 seconds on its first trip.

“She pretty much did it herself,” Holler said, adding that her daughter loves science and math classes. “She likes to figure stuff out.”

Contact Kristin Harty Barkley at kbarkley@times-news.com.

Local students face off in Physics Olympics - KGET 17

Teams worked against the clock, building creations with limited supplies like a tower from only one sheet of paper, a pair of scissors and tape.

Students didn't get into trouble flying paper airplanes on Friday as they constructed them in the Bakersfield College gymnasium and recorded their distance.

They built bridges made of Popsicle sticks and glue for the efficiency bridge competition. Teams had to create a bridge that was light in weight yet able hold at least ten pounds and not break.

James Hunter, a junior at Foothill High School ,said his bridge failed because it wasn’t long enough. "It’s pretty fun,” Hunter said. “I'm really into architecture, and so it's interesting putting a bridge together and seeing how well it did."

Charlotte Finzel teaches physics at Liberty High School. She says the 15 teams competing take the ultimate science exam by participating in the Olympics. “The concepts, the equations and all the things involved in physics is where the Physics Olympics refreshes their memory, and we go over things,” Finzel said.

One popular, yet messy project was the egg drop, where students dropped their creations from a top floor at B.C.

“It was a little challenging but fun at the same time,” said Ivonne Romero, a junior at Golden Valley High School, whose egg did not break in the competition. “We had to use our imagination with the supplies and be creative with our minds."

There was also a spring constant challenge and the trajectory competition, among the Olympics' 17 events. The winning paper tower was about six-feet tall and the winning bridge weighed 68.7 grams.

Local students face off in Physics Olympics - KGET 17

Teams worked against the clock, building creations with limited supplies like a tower from only one sheet of paper, a pair of scissors and tape.

Students didn't get into trouble flying paper airplanes on Friday as they constructed them in the Bakersfield College gymnasium and recorded their distance.

They built bridges made of Popsicle sticks and glue for the efficiency bridge competition. Teams had to create a bridge that was light in weight yet able hold at least ten pounds and not break.

James Hunter, a junior at Foothill High School ,said his bridge failed because it wasn’t long enough. "It’s pretty fun,” Hunter said. “I'm really into architecture, and so it's interesting putting a bridge together and seeing how well it did."

Charlotte Finzel teaches physics at Liberty High School. She says the 15 teams competing take the ultimate science exam by participating in the Olympics. “The concepts, the equations and all the things involved in physics is where the Physics Olympics refreshes their memory, and we go over things,” Finzel said.

One popular, yet messy project was the egg drop, where students dropped their creations from a top floor at B.C.

“It was a little challenging but fun at the same time,” said Ivonne Romero, a junior at Golden Valley High School, whose egg did not break in the competition. “We had to use our imagination with the supplies and be creative with our minds."

There was also a spring constant challenge and the trajectory competition, among the Olympics' 17 events. The winning paper tower was about six-feet tall and the winning bridge weighed 68.7 grams.

The Consolation of Philosophy - Huffington Post


Recently, as a result of my most recent book, A Universe from Nothing, I participated in a wide-ranging and in-depth interview for The Atlantic on questions ranging from the nature of nothing to the best way to encourage people to learn about the fascinating new results in cosmology. The interview was based on the transcript of a recorded conversation and was hard hitting (and, from my point of view, the interviewer was impressive in his depth), but my friend Dan Dennett recently wrote to me to say that it has been interpreted (probably because it included some verbal off-the-cuff remarks, rather than carefully crafted written responses) by a number of his colleagues and readers as implying a blanket condemnation of philosophy as a discipline, something I had not intended.

Out of respect for Dan and those whom I may have unjustly offended, and because the relationship between physics and philosophy seems to be an area which has drawn some attention of late, I thought I would take the opportunity to write down, as coherently as possible, my own views on several of these issues, as a physicist and cosmologist. As I should also make clear (and as numerous individuals have not hesitated to comment upon already), I am not a philosopher, nor do I claim to be an expert on philosophy. Because of a lifetime of activity in the field of theoretical physics, ranging from particle physics to general relativity to astrophysics, I do claim however to have some expertise in the impact of philosophy on my own field. In any case, the level of my knowledge, and ignorance, will undoubtedly become clearer in what follows.

As both a general reader and as someone who is interested in ideas and culture, I have great respect for and have learned a great deal from a number of individuals who currently classify themselves as philosophers. Of course as a young person I read the classical philosophers, ranging from Plato to Descartes, but as an adult I have gained insights into the implications of brain functioning and developments in evolutionary psychology for understanding human behavior from colleagues such as Dan Dennett and Pat Churchland. I have been forced to re-examine my own attitudes towards various ethical issues, from the treatment of animals to euthanasia, by the cogent and thoughtful writing of Peter Singer. And reading the work of my friend A.C. Grayling has immeasurably heightened my understanding and appreciation of the human experience.

What I find common and so stimulating about the philosophical efforts of these intellectual colleagues is the way they thoughtfully reflect on human knowledge, amassed from empirical explorations in areas ranging from science to history, to clarify issues that are relevant to making decisions about how to function more effectively and happily as an individual, and as a member of a society.

As a practicing physicist however, the situation is somewhat different. There, I, and most of the colleagues with whom I have discussed this matter, have found that philosophical speculations about physics and the nature of science are not particularly useful, and have had little or no impact upon progress in my field. Even in several areas associated with what one can rightfully call the philosophy of science I have found the reflections of physicists to be more useful. For example, on the nature of science and the scientific method, I have found the insights offered by scientists who have chosen to write concretely about their experience and reflections, from Jacob Bronowski, to Richard Feynman, to Francis Crick, to Werner Heisenberg, Albert Einstein, and Sir James Jeans, to have provided me with a better practical guide than the work of even the most significant philosophical writers of whom I am aware, such as Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn. I admit that this could primarily reflect of my own philosophical limitations, but I suspect this experience is more common than not among my scientific colleagues.

The one area of physics that has probably sparked the most 'philosophical' interest in recent times is the 'measurement' problem in quantum mechanics. How one moves from the remarkable and completely non-intuitive microscopic world where quantum mechanical indeterminacy reigns supreme and particles are doing many apparently inconsistent things at the same time, and are not localized in space or time, to the ordered classical world of our experience where baseballs and cannonballs have well-defined trajectories, is extremely subtle and complicated and the issues involved have probably not been resolved to the satisfaction of all practitioners in the field. And when one tries to apply the rules of quantum mechanics to an entire universe, in which a separation between observer and observed is not possible, the situation becomes even murkier.

However, even here, the most useful progress has been made, again in my experience, by physicists. The work of individuals such as Jim Hartle, and Murray Gell-Mann, Yakir Aharonov, Asher Peres, John Bell and others like them, who have done careful calculations associated with quantum measurement, has led to great progress in our appreciation of the subtle and confusing issues of translating an underlying quantum reality into the classical world we observe. There have been people who one can classify as philosophers who have contributed usefully to this discussion, such as Abner Shimony, but when they have, they have been essentially doing physics, and have published in physics journals (Shimony's work as a physicist is the work I am aware of). As far as the physical universe is concerned, mathematics and experiment, the tools of theoretical and experimental physics appear to be the only effective ways to address questions of principle.

Which brings me full circle to the question of nothing, and my own comments regarding the progress of philosophy in that regard. When it comes to the real operational issues that govern our understanding of physical reality, ontological definitions of classical philosophers are, in my opinion, sterile. Moreover, arguments based on authority, be it Aristotle, or Leibniz, are irrelevant. In science, there are no authorities, and appeal to quotes from brilliant scholars who lived before we knew the Earth orbited the Sun, or that space can be curved, or that dark matter or dark energy exist do not generally inform our current understanding of nature. Empirical explorations ultimately change our understanding of which questions are important and fruitful and which are not.

As a scientist, the fascination normally associated with the classically phrased question "why is there something rather than nothing?", is really contained in a specific operational question. That question can be phrased as follows: How can a universe full of galaxies and stars, and planets and people, including philosophers, arise naturally from an initial condition in which none of these objects -- no particles, no space, and perhaps no time -- may have existed? Put more succinctly perhaps: Why is there 'stuff', instead of empty space? Why is there space at all? There may be other ontological questions one can imagine but I think these are the 'miracles' of creation that are so non-intuitive and remarkable, and they are also the 'miracles' that physics has provided new insights about, and spurred by amazing discoveries, has changed the playing field of our knowledge. That we can even have plausible answers to these questions is worth celebrating and sharing more broadly.

In this regard, there is a class of philosophers, some theologically inspired, who object to the very fact that scientists might presume to address any version of this fundamental ontological issue. Recently one review of my book by such a philosopher, which I think motivated the questions in the Atlantic interview, argued not only that one particular version of the nothing described by modern physics was not relevant. Even more surprisingly, this author claimed with apparent authority (surprising because the author apparently has some background in physics) something that is simply wrong: that the laws of physics can never dynamically determine which particles and fields exist and whether space itself exists, or more generally what the nature of existence might be. But that is precisely what is possible in the context of modern quantum field theory in curved spacetime, where a phenomenon called 'spontaneous symmetry breaking' can determine dynamically which forces manifest themselves on large scales and which particles exist as stable states, and whether space itself can grow exponentially or not. Within the context of quantum gravity the same is presumably true for which sorts of universes can appear and persist. Within the context of string theory, a similar phenomenon might ultimately determine (indeed if the theory is ever to become predictive, it must determine) why universes might spontaneously arise with 4 large spacetime dimensions and not 5 or 6. One cannot tell from the review if the author actually read the book (since no mention of the relevant cosmology is made) or simply misunderstood it.

Theologians and both Christian and Muslim apologists have unfortunately since picked up on the ill-conceived claims of that review to argue that physics can therefore never really address the most profound 'theological' questions regarding our existence. (To be fair, I regret sometimes lumping all philosophers in with theologians because theology, aside from those parts that involve true historical or linguistic scholarship, is not credible field of modern scholarship.) It may be true that we can never fully resolved the infinite regression of 'why questions' that result whenever one assumes, a priori, that our universe must have some pre-ordained purpose. Or, to frame things in a more theological fashion: 'Why is our Universe necessary rather than contingent?'.

One answer to this latter question can come from physics. If all possibilities -- all universes with all laws -- can arise dynamically, and if anything that is not forbidden must arise, then this implies that both nothing and something must both exist, and we will of necessity find ourselves amidst something. A universe like ours is, in this context, guaranteed to arise dynamically, and we are here because we could not ask the question if our universe weren't here. It is in this sense that I argued that the seemingly profound question of why there is something rather than nothing might be actually no more profound than asking why some flowers are red or some are blue. I was surprised that this very claim was turned around by the reviewer as if it somehow invalidated this possible physical resolution of the something versus nothing conundrum.

Instead, sticking firm to the classical ontological definition of nothing as "the absence of anything" -- whatever this means -- so essential to theological, and some subset of philosophical intransigence, strikes me as essentially sterile, backward, useless and annoying. If "something" is a physical quantity, to be determined by experiment, then so is 'nothing'. It may be that even an eternal multiverse in which all universes and laws of nature arise dynamically will still leave open some 'why' questions, and therefore never fully satisfy theologians and some philosophers. But focusing on that issue and ignoring the remarkable progress we can make toward answering perhaps the most miraculous aspect of the something from nothing question -- understanding why there is 'stuff' and not empty space, why there is space at all, and how both stuff and space and even the forces we measure could arise from no stuff and no space -- is, in my opinion, impotent, and useless. It was in that sense -- the classical ontological claim about the nature of some abstract nothing, compared to the physical insights about this subject that have developed -- that I made the provocative, and perhaps inappropriately broad statement that this sort of philosophical speculation has not led to any progress over the centuries.

What I tried to do in my writing on this subject is carefully attempt to define precisely what scientists operationally mean by nothing, and to differentiate between what we know, and what is merely plausible, and what we might be able to probe in the future, and what we cannot. The rest is, to me, just noise.

So, to those philosophers I may have unjustly offended by seemingly blanket statements about the field, I apologize. I value your intelligent conversation and the insights of anyone who thinks carefully about our universe and who is willing to guide their thinking based on the evidence of reality. To those who wish to impose their definition of reality abstractly, independent of emerging empirical knowledge and the changing questions that go with it, and call that either philosophy or theology, I would say this: Please go on talking to each other, and let the rest of us get on with the goal of learning more about nature.

The Consolation of Philosophy - Huffington Post


Recently, as a result of my most recent book, A Universe from Nothing, I participated in a wide-ranging and in-depth interview for The Atlantic on questions ranging from the nature of nothing to the best way to encourage people to learn about the fascinating new results in cosmology. The interview was based on the transcript of a recorded conversation and was hard hitting (and, from my point of view, the interviewer was impressive in his depth), but my friend Dan Dennett recently wrote to me to say that it has been interpreted (probably because it included some verbal off-the-cuff remarks, rather than carefully crafted written responses) by a number of his colleagues and readers as implying a blanket condemnation of philosophy as a discipline, something I had not intended.

Out of respect for Dan and those whom I may have unjustly offended, and because the relationship between physics and philosophy seems to be an area which has drawn some attention of late, I thought I would take the opportunity to write down, as coherently as possible, my own views on several of these issues, as a physicist and cosmologist. As I should also make clear (and as numerous individuals have not hesitated to comment upon already), I am not a philosopher, nor do I claim to be an expert on philosophy. Because of a lifetime of activity in the field of theoretical physics, ranging from particle physics to general relativity to astrophysics, I do claim however to have some expertise in the impact of philosophy on my own field. In any case, the level of my knowledge, and ignorance, will undoubtedly become clearer in what follows.

As both a general reader and as someone who is interested in ideas and culture, I have great respect for and have learned a great deal from a number of individuals who currently classify themselves as philosophers. Of course as a young person I read the classical philosophers, ranging from Plato to Descartes, but as an adult I have gained insights into the implications of brain functioning and developments in evolutionary psychology for understanding human behavior from colleagues such as Dan Dennett and Pat Churchland. I have been forced to re-examine my own attitudes towards various ethical issues, from the treatment of animals to euthanasia, by the cogent and thoughtful writing of Peter Singer. And reading the work of my friend A.C. Grayling has immeasurably heightened my understanding and appreciation of the human experience.

What I find common and so stimulating about the philosophical efforts of these intellectual colleagues is the way they thoughtfully reflect on human knowledge, amassed from empirical explorations in areas ranging from science to history, to clarify issues that are relevant to making decisions about how to function more effectively and happily as an individual, and as a member of a society.

As a practicing physicist however, the situation is somewhat different. There, I, and most of the colleagues with whom I have discussed this matter, have found that philosophical speculations about physics and the nature of science are not particularly useful, and have had little or no impact upon progress in my field. Even in several areas associated with what one can rightfully call the philosophy of science I have found the reflections of physicists to be more useful. For example, on the nature of science and the scientific method, I have found the insights offered by scientists who have chosen to write concretely about their experience and reflections, from Jacob Bronowski, to Richard Feynman, to Francis Crick, to Werner Heisenberg, Albert Einstein, and Sir James Jeans, to have provided me with a better practical guide than the work of even the most significant philosophical writers of whom I am aware, such as Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn. I admit that this could primarily reflect of my own philosophical limitations, but I suspect this experience is more common than not among my scientific colleagues.

The one area of physics that has probably sparked the most 'philosophical' interest in recent times is the 'measurement' problem in quantum mechanics. How one moves from the remarkable and completely non-intuitive microscopic world where quantum mechanical indeterminacy reigns supreme and particles are doing many apparently inconsistent things at the same time, and are not localized in space or time, to the ordered classical world of our experience where baseballs and cannonballs have well-defined trajectories, is extremely subtle and complicated and the issues involved have probably not been resolved to the satisfaction of all practitioners in the field. And when one tries to apply the rules of quantum mechanics to an entire universe, in which a separation between observer and observed is not possible, the situation becomes even murkier.

However, even here, the most useful progress has been made, again in my experience, by physicists. The work of individuals such as Jim Hartle, and Murray Gell-Mann, Yakir Aharonov, Asher Peres, John Bell and others like them, who have done careful calculations associated with quantum measurement, has led to great progress in our appreciation of the subtle and confusing issues of translating an underlying quantum reality into the classical world we observe. There have been people who one can classify as philosophers who have contributed usefully to this discussion, such as Abner Shimony, but when they have, they have been essentially doing physics, and have published in physics journals (Shimony's work as a physicist is the work I am aware of). As far as the physical universe is concerned, mathematics and experiment, the tools of theoretical and experimental physics appear to be the only effective ways to address questions of principle.

Which brings me full circle to the question of nothing, and my own comments regarding the progress of philosophy in that regard. When it comes to the real operational issues that govern our understanding of physical reality, ontological definitions of classical philosophers are, in my opinion, sterile. Moreover, arguments based on authority, be it Aristotle, or Leibniz, are irrelevant. In science, there are no authorities, and appeal to quotes from brilliant scholars who lived before we knew the Earth orbited the Sun, or that space can be curved, or that dark matter or dark energy exist do not generally inform our current understanding of nature. Empirical explorations ultimately change our understanding of which questions are important and fruitful and which are not.

As a scientist, the fascination normally associated with the classically phrased question "why is there something rather than nothing?", is really contained in a specific operational question. That question can be phrased as follows: How can a universe full of galaxies and stars, and planets and people, including philosophers, arise naturally from an initial condition in which none of these objects -- no particles, no space, and perhaps no time -- may have existed? Put more succinctly perhaps: Why is there 'stuff', instead of empty space? Why is there space at all? There may be other ontological questions one can imagine but I think these are the 'miracles' of creation that are so non-intuitive and remarkable, and they are also the 'miracles' that physics has provided new insights about, and spurred by amazing discoveries, has changed the playing field of our knowledge. That we can even have plausible answers to these questions is worth celebrating and sharing more broadly.

In this regard, there is a class of philosophers, some theologically inspired, who object to the very fact that scientists might presume to address any version of this fundamental ontological issue. Recently one review of my book by such a philosopher, which I think motivated the questions in the Atlantic interview, argued not only that one particular version of the nothing described by modern physics was not relevant. Even more surprisingly, this author claimed with apparent authority (surprising because the author apparently has some background in physics) something that is simply wrong: that the laws of physics can never dynamically determine which particles and fields exist and whether space itself exists, or more generally what the nature of existence might be. But that is precisely what is possible in the context of modern quantum field theory in curved spacetime, where a phenomenon called 'spontaneous symmetry breaking' can determine dynamically which forces manifest themselves on large scales and which particles exist as stable states, and whether space itself can grow exponentially or not. Within the context of quantum gravity the same is presumably true for which sorts of universes can appear and persist. Within the context of string theory, a similar phenomenon might ultimately determine (indeed if the theory is ever to become predictive, it must determine) why universes might spontaneously arise with 4 large spacetime dimensions and not 5 or 6. One cannot tell from the review if the author actually read the book (since no mention of the relevant cosmology is made) or simply misunderstood it.

Theologians and both Christian and Muslim apologists have unfortunately since picked up on the ill-conceived claims of that review to argue that physics can therefore never really address the most profound 'theological' questions regarding our existence. (To be fair, I regret sometimes lumping all philosophers in with theologians because theology, aside from those parts that involve true historical or linguistic scholarship, is not credible field of modern scholarship.) It may be true that we can never fully resolved the infinite regression of 'why questions' that result whenever one assumes, a priori, that our universe must have some pre-ordained purpose. Or, to frame things in a more theological fashion: 'Why is our Universe necessary rather than contingent?'.

One answer to this latter question can come from physics. If all possibilities -- all universes with all laws -- can arise dynamically, and if anything that is not forbidden must arise, then this implies that both nothing and something must both exist, and we will of necessity find ourselves amidst something. A universe like ours is, in this context, guaranteed to arise dynamically, and we are here because we could not ask the question if our universe weren't here. It is in this sense that I argued that the seemingly profound question of why there is something rather than nothing might be actually no more profound than asking why some flowers are red or some are blue. I was surprised that this very claim was turned around by the reviewer as if it somehow invalidated this possible physical resolution of the something versus nothing conundrum.

Instead, sticking firm to the classical ontological definition of nothing as "the absence of anything" -- whatever this means -- so essential to theological, and some subset of philosophical intransigence, strikes me as essentially sterile, backward, useless and annoying. If "something" is a physical quantity, to be determined by experiment, then so is 'nothing'. It may be that even an eternal multiverse in which all universes and laws of nature arise dynamically will still leave open some 'why' questions, and therefore never fully satisfy theologians and some philosophers. But focusing on that issue and ignoring the remarkable progress we can make toward answering perhaps the most miraculous aspect of the something from nothing question -- understanding why there is 'stuff' and not empty space, why there is space at all, and how both stuff and space and even the forces we measure could arise from no stuff and no space -- is, in my opinion, impotent, and useless. It was in that sense -- the classical ontological claim about the nature of some abstract nothing, compared to the physical insights about this subject that have developed -- that I made the provocative, and perhaps inappropriately broad statement that this sort of philosophical speculation has not led to any progress over the centuries.

What I tried to do in my writing on this subject is carefully attempt to define precisely what scientists operationally mean by nothing, and to differentiate between what we know, and what is merely plausible, and what we might be able to probe in the future, and what we cannot. The rest is, to me, just noise.

So, to those philosophers I may have unjustly offended by seemingly blanket statements about the field, I apologize. I value your intelligent conversation and the insights of anyone who thinks carefully about our universe and who is willing to guide their thinking based on the evidence of reality. To those who wish to impose their definition of reality abstractly, independent of emerging empirical knowledge and the changing questions that go with it, and call that either philosophy or theology, I would say this: Please go on talking to each other, and let the rest of us get on with the goal of learning more about nature.