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Geometry Simplifies Quantum Physics

In December of 2013 physicists discovered a way to approximate the amplitude of scattering sub-atomic particles in a way that is much, much simpler than the old method. The idea is that given a set of parameters and whatnot, a geometric object, which is being called an amplituhedron, can be constructed such that it's volume equals the amplitude of a scattered particle from a quantum interaction. The old method involved using hundreds to millions of Feynman diagrams, which show possible ways the

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The Procrastination Effect {part II}

I would like to take a step back from physics to propose another law on the effects of procrastination on the APlusPhysics blogs. I have already explored the relationships between amount of procrastination and both quality of blog posts and hours slept the night they are due. Every time I refresh the "dashboard" page five new posts pop up, and I have noticed that the same posts don't stay on the front page for very long. It would seem that we are all hurting ourselves in terms of views by all wa

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Musical Tesla Coils

I just found a video of a man playing a Tesla coil as a musical instrument. With a guitar. Basically, the guitar still works the same way but rather than sending its MIDI signals (notes and such) to an amp, it is being sent to a Tesla coil. Tesla coils work by sending alternating current through a wires coiled into a torus (donut shape). The changing current charges a larger torus trough electromagnetic induction. The voltage induced in the second coil is much greater than the first which allows

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3D Printed Virtual Reality

Kickstarter is full of cool stuff but a project called Altergaze really caught my eye. What it is is a 3D printed platform with a set of up to 3 lenses inside and a holder for your smartphone. The lenses magnify the screen so that it takes up your entire field of view, allowing you to watch video and whatnot in giant, beautiful panoramic views. And the beauty of it is that since it it 3D printed, the firm starting it is making the templates open source and offering partnerships to just about any

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The Workings of Reflecting Telescopes

The second major type of telescope is the reflecting telescope. The reflecting telescope was invented by Newton and considered an improvement on Galileo's design. Most reflecting scopes still use Newton's design. Reflecting scopes use a wide concave mirror at the back of the tube to bring light to a focal point in front of the mirror which is then usually reflected sideways toward the eyepiece by a flat, angled mirror. There are also compound scopes that work like reflecting scopes but there is

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How Telescopes Work

Last night I happened to look up as I was walking inside at around 10 and noticed that I could see a lot of stars. Like a lot. I am quite a fan of stargazing but despite owning a telescope I have always done it with my naked eyes. But I was in the mood to see some planets in detail so I lugged down the old telescope from the attic and dusted her off only to make a distressing discovery- all the eyepieces were missing (you need those if you want to see anything). My dad and I scoured the dust and

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A Better Space Telescope

In December of 2013 the European Space Agency launched Gaia, the most accurate telescope to ever be put into space. Its 1 gigapixel camera (that's 1 billion pixels or 1000 megapixels) is said to be able to measure a human thumbnail from the moon or detect the width a human hair from a distance of 1000 Km, which is some pretty incredible imaging science right there. Whats more, telescopes work better where its dark, so the ESA is putting it in orbit around the sun, around the L2 lagrange point w

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The Voyagers

I have been somewhat obsessed with space lately. I also recently learned that there are spacecraft outside of our solar system, which for some reason just seems really cool to me. In September of 2013 Voyager 1 officially left the heliosphere, which is the area in space dominated by solar winds and charged particles from the sun and extends about twice the distance from Pluto as Pluto is from the sun. The deep space probe Voyager 2 was launched on August 20th, 1977 and Voyager 1 was launched two

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Life in Our Solar System

A few days ago scientists confirmed that there is liquid water on Enceladus one of Saturn's 53 or so moons. The surface of Enceladus is covered in a thick sheet of ice but NASA's Cassini spacecraft which has been orbiting Saturn since 2004 has sent back images of geysers of ice, water vapor and organic compounds shooting out from cracks in the ice at the south pole of Enceladus. This was the first sign that there may be liquid water below the ice. Also, NASA noticed slight changes in Cassini's t

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Cosmic Inflation and Proof of the Big Bang

First of all I have to say that I'm surprised that nobody here has blogged about this yet. But in case you haven't heard yet, March 17th was a big day for science, and physics in particular. Researchers from Harvard University and the Smithsonian released evidence of distortion in the cosmic background radiation (shown to the right) caused by gravitational waves from when the universe went through inflation after the big bang. The idea is that in the 1x10-35th of a second after the big bang the

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PROCRASTINATION (and why its bad)

In the last few minutes I have noticed a lot of activity on the Aplusphysics blog, which is strange because it's almost midnight. Oh wait, blogs are due tomorrow? That explains something. Right now is the time when everyone cranks out those last couple posts that should have been done weeks ago, and I'm just as guilty as the rest of you. I want to be asleep right now more than anythi- hold it right there, if I'm writing this blog post I must want a good physics grade more than sleep. I also just

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Something strange...

So the other day I was skiing along on one of those straight, flat trails so I was naturally a little bit bored. So I decided to see how high I could jump. I pushed off the ground pretty hard and... got like 2 inches of air. I was pretty disappointed in myself so I tried again. This time a squatted down and pushed off the ground with as much force as my skinny legs could muster and... 2.5 inches. Whats wrong with me? So I stopped and tried to jump vertically while not moving and I got much highe

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Why its harder to run in the snow

Today was one of those days when all the roads were covered in snow, which is bad for driving and even worse for running. A few steps in that salty slush and you'll be slipping all over the place. What I've found is that snow sticks to the bottom of my shoes and stays there, so rather than my rubber soles trying to get traction with snow, there is just more snow trying to get traction with the snow. This drastically reduces the coefficient of static friction between my shoes and the road, causin

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Why humans are the best distance runners part 2

This is a continuation of my last post: Another reason humans are so good at running is we have big butts. I'm not joking. Humans have larger gluteus maximus muscles than any other other species on earth and the gluteus maximus is the most powerful muscle in the human body. Daniel Lieberman, chair of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, conducted a study of gluteus maximus function and found that the glutes are much more active while running than while walking, in

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Why humans are the best distance runners

In my last post I highlighted some of the incredible things that distance runners are able to do, including very long runs at altitude (lower oxygen) and in extreme conditions. But what allows these people to do these kinds of things? The short answer is training. With enough training almost anyone (for the most part excluding the very elderly) could finish an ultra marathon. But why is this? The answer lies in the fact that humans are better adapted to run for long distances than any other anim

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RUN FORREST RUN!!!

First things first: I would like to complain about the fact that people are not at all creative while heckling runners. You may think that shouting "Run Forrest, run!" out of your car window is funny and original, but its not. I've heard that at least 20 times in the last few years. In case you have never seen the movie Forrest Gump (shame on you if you haven't, you don't deserve to be a person) this is a reference to the scene when protagonist Forrest is being chased by bullies and his friend J

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We will never go the speed of light

According to Einstein, nothing can move faster than the speed of light (which is exactly 299,792,458 m/s in a vacuum). However this hasn't stopped people from trying to think of clever ways to move something faster than this cosmic speed limit. It has been claimed that by shining a laser on the surface of the moon from earth and moving the laser quickly, the beam moves across the surface at faster than the speed of light, which is partially true. What is actually happening is that photons travel

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Black Hawk Down

The other night I watched the movie Black Hawk Down, which is based on the book of the same name (written by Mark Bowden) which was based on the actual events of the Battle of Mogadishu. The short story is that the US sent Army Rangers, Delta Force operators and pilots from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment to remove Somalian dictator Mohamed Farrah Aidid from power and in October of 1993 they conducted a raid with the intent of capturing two of Aidid's highest advisers. The operati

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Track Burn

Warning: not only is this a lame story, its also slightly graphic Whoever said that running isn't a contact sport was dead wrong, and my right arm can prove it. But more on that later. In the last few years I have seen more kids than I count fall during races, often getting trampled by other runners who are wearing shoes with metal spikes, up to half an inch long, protruding from the bottom. These poor souls always pick themselves up, battered and bloody (literally) and finish the race. I had

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The Little Cube That Could

So here's something neat that I just stumbled across on YouTube. It also connects to our current unit of rotational dynamics perfectly. Its called "Cubli" which a compound of the English word 'cube' and the German word 'li' meaning something small in size. Cubli is basically a 15x15cm cube that can move and balance with the help of angular momentum. It contains three flywheels are able to achieve high angular velocity (ω) and acceleration and react quickly to external forces with the help of sen

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#10- More mountains, but on Mars!

Here's something I just stumbled upon a few minutes ago. Its Olympus Mons, Mars' largest mountain. Olympus Mons is also the largest volcano in the solar system and the 2nd tallest mountain in the solar system (behind the Rheasilvia peak on the asteroid 4 Vesta). Olympus Mons is a shield volcano and was formed the same way that the Hawaiian islands were, by lava flows hardening and building up over hundreds of millions of years. The difference is that while the Hawaiian chain was formed by Earths

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Mountain Climbing {in November (see also: establishing an accidental suicide attempt)}

Yesterday I climbed Giant Mountain, one of the 46 Adirondack High Peaks. With a summit elevation of 4,627 feet (1,410 m) Giant is the 12th tallest of the high peaks and with an elevation change of 3000 ft in 3 miles it's also on of the steepest. The journey began at the car near the trail head where I was deciding on footwear. The 2 options were hiking boots (0.92 kg a pair) of Nike frees (.42 kg a pair). The boots would be heavier and require more work to ascend the mountain, but would provide

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Mountain Descending {in November (aka surviving your accidental suicide attempt)}

This is the followup to my last post about climbing Giant Mountain. You may have notice that I only talked about the energy I expended climbing the mountain. If you're thinking "Couldn't he have just doubled the energy going up to get total energy", you're wrong and need to: 1) read this 2) stop acting like you know me. The main problem was that, as I mentioned in the last post, the trail became increasingly snowy and icy as we neared the summit. Actually it was like starting in New York in Oct

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Run the Tangets!

There's one thing that has always bugged me about the sport of cross country: the proximity of the start line to the finish line. Nine times out of ten I would estimate that the positions at which I start and finish a 5000 meter race are within 400 meters of one another. Now obviosly i understand that its a 5k race, not a 400, but it makes me seem very slow. With my (rather quick) personal best time of 15 minutes, 21 seconds (921 seconds) my average velocity (speed=distance/time) over a 5km dist

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cheetahs vs every car. ever.

Cheetahs are basically the supercars of the animal kingdom. They have a top speed of 75 miles per hour and a 0 to 60 time of 3 seconds, faster than a vast majority of production sports cars. A light and aerodynamic bone structure reduces drag forces to the absolute minimum, a long tail provides balance while sprinting and counter-forces while turning which allows for extreme agility, and flat paws provide better traction than most cats. A light weight of 125 pounds on average allow the cheetahs

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