ArXiv Blog: arXiv staff to participate in the #strike4blacklives. “The arXiv staff is deeply saddened and angered by the recent killings of George Floyd, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others. We recognize that Black people live with the injustices of systemic racism every day — and have for centuries — in North America and around the world. We acknowledge that in research, as in life, people often perpetuate bias and systemic racism, both consciously and unconsciously. Members of arXiv’s own physics community asked us to pause business-as-usual this week and join scientists participating in the #strike4blacklives. Our US-based staff agreed.”
Neowin: Neural networks are now being used to track exotic particles at CERN. “Research within the domain of physics has profited from the rise of artificial neural networks and deep learning. In the past, we’ve seen them being applied to study dark matter and massive galaxies. Continuing this pattern, we now have artificial neural networks being used in the study of exotic particles.”
University of Notre Dame: Quantum Interest. “Published in Switzerland in the 1970s and 1980s, Epistemological Letters was a critical venue for work that was viewed as marginal by mainstream physicists of the era — work that would later contribute to important developments in areas such as quantum computing, quantum encryption and quantum teleportation. Think a Reddit for theoretical physicists.”
Phys .org: Short story collection to entangle readers in the quantum world. “Are you ready to get entangled in the science of the very small? That’s the thread running through a new anthology, Quantum Shorts: Collected Flash Fiction Inspired by Quantum Physics. Available to download as a free e-book now, the anthology presents 37 stories shortlisted in three editions of the international Quantum Shorts competition.”
University of Arkansas: Textbooks by University of Arkansas Faculty Added to Open Textbook Library. “Three openly licensed textbooks written by University of Arkansas faculty are now available in the Open Textbook Library.” The new textbooks cover physics, astronomy, and technical writing.
ScienceBlog: Using Soundwaves To Search Through Big Data With More Stability And Ease. “In a paper published in Nature Research’s journal, Communications Physics, researchers in the University of Arizona Department of Materials Science and Engineering have demonstrated the possibility for acoustic waves in a classical environment to do the work of quantum information processing without the time limitations and fragility.”
Ars Technica: Physicists discover hidden text in what was thought to be blank Egyptian papyri. “A team of German scientists has used a combination of cutting-edge physics techniques to virtually ‘unfold’ an ancient Egyptian papyrus, part of an extensive collection housed in the Berlin Egyptian Museum. Their analysis revealed that a seemingly blank patch on the papyrus actually contained characters written in what had become “invisible ink” after centuries of exposure to light.”
ScienceBlog: Seeking New Physics, Scientists Borrow From Social Networks. “…MIT physicists have found a way to automate the search for strange and potentially new physics, with a technique that determines the degree of similarity between pairs of collision events. In this way, they can estimate the relationships among hundreds of thousands of collisions in a proton beam smashup, and create a geometric map of events according to their degree of similarity. The researchers say their new technique is the first to relate multitudes of particle collisions to each other, similar to a social network.”
Carnegie Mellon University: New App Aims to Teach Special Relativity Hands-On. “Many people have at least heard of Albert Einstein’s famous theory of special relativity, or its key formula E=mc2. Understanding that theory and how it affects the complex relationship between space and time in the universe is another matter entirely. Carnegie Mellon University Professor of Physics Ira Rothstein hopes to make understanding general relativity a little easier with a new smartphone app that lets anyone experiment with and learn how different aspects of special relativity, like time dilatio and length contraction, work.”
Physics Today: Commentary: Celebrating and supporting African American women in physics. “African American Women in Physics (AAWIP) was founded to honor those pioneering women, to inspire future physicists, and to connect with allies interested in promoting diversity in physics and other STEM fields. By maintaining a list of all of the African American women with PhDs who identify as physicists, the organization highlights the wide variety of academic backgrounds and career options for physics students and professionals. With the expected awarding later this year of the 100th physics PhD to an African American woman, AAWIP is both celebrating the trailblazing accomplishments of those who earned their degrees and emphasizing the progress that will be necessary to make the list grow far more quickly.”
Princeton University: Good news for future tech: Exotic ‘topological’ materials are surprisingly common. “In a major step forward for an area of research that earned the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics, an international team has found that substances with exotic electronic behaviors called topological materials are in fact quite common, and include everyday elements such as arsenic and gold. The team created an online catalog to make it easy to design new topological materials using elements from the periodic table.” I went looking for an explanatory guide to topological materials and HA HA HA HA HA HA. But I did find this article from Phys.org has some explanation of topological insulators and materials. It helped my understanding.
PLOS One Blog: Peer-reviewed physics for Wikipedia: PLOS ONE Topic Pages. “Despite Wikipedia’s importance as a resource for both practicing physicists and the wider community, it is rare for professional physicists to contribute, in part because there are few, if any, professional incentives to do so. We’re all in agreement that researchers should receive proper attribution for our work (which is why PLOS ONE supports ORCID); and as credit is not given for submitting or editing Wikipedia pages, only a small fraction of the physicists that I asked about this have edited even a single Wikipedia page. With this in mind, we’re excited to introduce PLOS ONE Topic Pages, which are peer-reviewed review articles written with Wikipedia in mind. These provide opportunities for author attribution and will result in both journal articles and Wikipedia pages of high quality and utility.”
Engadget: Stephen Hawking’s last paper on black holes is now online. “Stephen Hawking never stopped trying to unravel the mysteries surrounding black holes — in fact, he was still working to solve one of them shortly before his death. Now, his last research paper on the subject is finally available online through pre-publication website ArXiV, thanks to his co-authors from Cambridge and Harvard. It’s entitled Black Hole Entropy and Soft Hair, and it tackles the black hole paradox. According to Hawking’s co-author Malcolm Perry, the paradox “is perhaps the most puzzling problem in fundamental theoretical physics today” and was the center of the late physicist’s life for decades.”
Physics Today: Online tool breaks down physicists’ research interests. “Terms like cosmologist, string theorist, or particle physicist rarely capture the true scope of a scientist’s work. A new website aims to provide a more complete picture. Launched in July, Scimeter allows researchers to create word clouds based on the topics of their arXiv papers, search for scientists with similar interests, and find experts whose work best matches given keywords.”
Physics Today: The history of physics, in 4000 manuscripts. “A single-story ranch house on the eastern coast of Florida has a room that would make any physicist or historian momentarily lose her breath. It’s a home library about the size of a college seminar room, lined with dark wood bookshelves that are filled from floor to ceiling with titles by Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, Ptolemy, and more. This room is home to David Wenner’s collection of more than 4000 major physics articles and books, covering discoveries and innovations from the 15th century to the 21st.”