I was born and raised in the vast urban ecology that is the New York region's metropolitan jungle. As a young man my love for the city and my love for physics grew together. Now I am old enough to see that the pairing of those two romances was no accident.
Beginning this week I will be exploring the relationship between physics and cities. It's part of NPR's most excellent project on Cities. The questions I want to explore concern both the physics of cities and cities as examples of physics.
Logan Marshall-Green (left), Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender in <em>Prometheus</em>.
Credit Kerry Brown / 20th Century Fox
I like science fiction as much as the next guy. No, strike that. I like science fiction way more than the next guy. I especially like science fiction that combines big ideas, smart writing and exploding spaceships. So why did I find Prometheus — Ridley Scott's semi-prequel to Alien — so flat?
It wasn't for lack of big ideas. Prometheus had that in spades, with its conceit that humanity's origins lay in ancient (and very large) astronauts.
It wasn't for lack of exploding space-ships. Prometheus had lots of those too and a few exploding bodies.
If it hasn't happened to you, count yourself as lucky. For many people, eating ice cream or drinking an icy drink too fast can produce a really painful headache. It usually hits in the front of the brain, behind the forehead.
The technical name for this phenomenon is cold-stimulus headache, but people also refer to it as "ice cream headache" or "brain freeze."
The good news is that brain freeze is easy to prevent — just eat more slowly. The other bit of good news is these headaches don't last very long — a minute at the outside.
Computer chips: the grandest digital mutation of them all
Credit Sam Yeh / AFP/Getty Images
Regular contributor Stuart Kauffman is joined this week by Richard Melmon, a managing partner at Bullpen Capital.
What is an economy? The word derives from the ancient Greek for household stewardship. The economy is the steward of our material lives. But who is this steward? And how does it decide the makeup of the pantry?
So scientists at the Tevatron, the premier U.S. particle collider that was shut down last year, may be announcing their own results on the Higgs search today. Tommaso Dorigo, a physicist at CERN reports the status in his Quantum Diaries Survivor blog with a post called A Significant Higgs Signal From The Tevatron !
So the rumors are a flying about that boson thingie again. This week scientists will be holding a seminar (July 4 of all days) to update the community on the search for the Higgs Boson. The Higgs is last the piece (particle) of the grand edifice called the Standard Model of Particle Physics.
Before we get to the fireworks on the Fourth of July, we might see some pyrotechnics from a giant physics experiment near Geneva, Switzerland.
Scientists there are planning to gather that morning to hear the latest about the decades-long search for a subatomic particle that could help explain why objects in our universe actually weigh anything.
The buzz is that they're closing in on the elusive Higgs particle. That would be a major milestone in the quest to understand the most basic nature of the universe.
Royal Dutch Shell could drill several exploratory oil wells into the waters off the north shore of Alaska this summer. The potential prize is huge, but so is the risk, should there be an oil spill in this pristine and remote region. And that risk is on everyone's mind since the BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago.
Shell is now training hundreds of workers to confront oil in icy waters. But for now, the training is taking place in the calm, ice-free waters far to the south, near the port of Valdez.