Aug 3, 2010

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Dance your PhD contest – only a month to go

Dance Your PhD Contest – only a month to go.


I’d even vote for replacing the final thesis defense with the PhD dance. If you truly understand the subject, you should be able to perform an interpretive dance about it.

Dance Your PhD facebook Group is here. You can see the latest entries.

Here is a sample from 2009 – Understanding turbulence to use magnetically confined fusion.

Via World’s Fair – Vince LiCata

Talk Like a Physicist

Jul 29, 2009

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Particle Zoo – sewing the fabric of spacetime : subatomic particle plushies


If cuteness were a fundamental force, the plushies from ParticleZoo would be the strongest attractors in the universe.

Check out the plushies from the particlezoo, you can get just one, starting at $9.75 or get a whole universe in a box. Handmade wholesomeness, with a dose of particle physics and a sprinkle of whimsy!


Visit them at

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Apr 3, 2009

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Around the World in 80 Telescopes


Around the World in 80 Telescopes: I am eagerly awaiting the start of the webcast of around the world in 80 telescope. It starts on 4/3/09 at 9.00 UT; so about an hour from now for me.

Go here to watch it.

The 24-hour long webcast is organized by the European Southern Observatory for the International Year of Astronomy cornerstone project 100 Hours of Astronomy.

The webcast event follows night and day around the globe to visit some of the most advanced observatories on Earth and in space, exploring the universe in visible light and beyond.

The Gemini North Telescope (Hawaii, USA) and the large observatories at the summit of volcanic Mauna Kea are scheduled for the first stops in the program beginning April 3 at 1 Am PST.

Others on the schedule include the Swift Satellite and Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, the Himalayan Chandra Telescope (Hanle, India), and the 10-meter South Pole Telescope and IceCube Neutrino Telescope (South Pole, Antarctica).

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Mar 16, 2009

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See Live Images from Mars – Mars in Google Earth

‘Live from Mars’ layer to view the latest images from NASA’s THEMIS camera on board the Mars Odyssey spacecraft, sometimes just hours after NASA receives them. You can also see live satellite orbital tracks, or check out where the HiRISE camera plans to image next.


Another interesting feature added to Google Earth is the ‘Guided Tours’ feature. If you’re not sure where to go on Mars, Google lets Bill Nye and Public Radio’s Ira Flatow, host of Science Friday show you around. You can go to the Mars Gallery layer, and double-click either of their tours for a narrated trip around the Martian surface. Google claims that this is a great way to introduce oneself to some of the most interesting spots on the planet – just sit back, and enjoy the ride. If something catches your eye, you can pause these tours at any time and explore on your own, then hit play to resume your journey.

Apart from these features, there’s a browseable layer of Google’s favorite satellite images, visible and infrared global views, geo-located excerpts from A Traveler’s Guide to Mars, and others. Google has also included 3D models of NASA rovers. Also, you can use the search box to locate famous sites like the ‘face on Mars’, just like surfing Earth.

Some of the hi-res images are absolutely stunning.

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Mar 7, 2009

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Physics Fun Day at Knott’s Theme Park

The 11th Annual Physics Fun Day at Knott’s Theme Park was on March 5th. Local students use Knott’s rollercoasters as a giant science lab with local educators joining together with Knott’s educational staff to create a variety of learning contests and games centered on the park’s thrill rides.



Almost all major theme parks have a physics day. Take a budding physicists to one of the theme parks on physics day – they will have a blast.

Here is a report that was filed on the recent Physics day at the Knotts Berry Farm.

BUENA PARK – Most classrooms don’t come equipped with hurtling roller coasters or flume rides to demonstrate scientific principles such as gravity or friction.

Instead, 8,000 middle and high school students from as far away as Las Vegas arrived at Knott’s Berry Farm on Thursday, packing accelerometers, protractors and stopwatches along with their cameras and sunglasses.

They spent the day calculating the height of steel towers and the angles of roller coaster loops, all while keeping their brains going with ample supplies of funnel cakes and French fries.

“It’s the best field trip so far,” said Karrissa Duncan, 12, a sixth-grader at St. Angela Merici School in Brea.

Senior Catherine Nguyen, 17, and three of her Westminster High School classmates scribbled numbers furiously underneath the Boomerang roller coaster.

“What we’re learning is we can apply actual physics to rides. They’re not just made-up numbers,” she said, adding some of the challenges handed them by their teacher required them to board rides to take speed and other measurements. “So it’s fun, too.”

That’s exactly what former Westminster High School science teacher Jim Pacelli had in mind when he approached Knott’s 11 years ago about holding a physics day. He didn’t come up with the idea, but wanted a location close to Orange County students.

His motivation was simple.

“No matter how many (physics) experiments we do in the classroom, some students are convinced it’s smoke and mirrors,” Pacelli said. So, he gathered a few other teachers together.

“We went through every ride they had in the park at the time, and thought, ‘How does physics apply?’” he said. Each year since, every corner of Knott’s Berry Farm has become a science workbook.

In addition, students competed to make the tallest towers from sheets of paper or tried to craft paper airplanes to fly through a hoop and onto a target.

Fountain Valley High School Senior Paula Nguyen, 17, took part in the competition to get extra credit from her teacher. Her plane came up short of the hoop, but did make a finely executed – though unintended – loop before it crashed.

“It did better than what I expected,” Nguyen said as she shrugged, acknowledging aeronautic skills were not her forté. “I thought it would just fall. But it made a loop, and that was pretty.”


Students work with their inclinometer to measure the height of Supreme Scream at Knott’s Berry Farm’s Physics Day.

Talk Like a Physicist

Mar 2, 2009

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Physics – accelerate your mind


A beautiful poster design from American Physical Society.

The poster was also sponsored by the American Association of Physics Teachers and by the Society of Physics Students.

Talk Like a Physicist