If you’ve been following the Mars Rover news at all lately, you’ll be excited to hear that, desipte its broken wheel and having to drive backwards, Spirit has reached a hill that will get enough sun to power the rover all winter. In addition, they think that there may be some interesting science to do in its resting spot, and will be able to keep the rover busy without risking moving it during the short winter days.
Besides being a good selection, this list of science’s ten most beautiful experiments is also a really good presentation of the methodology and implications of the experiments, in brief form. The presentation as a whole also gives some insight, though not in explicit statements, of what it is that make an experiment “beautiful”. I suspect this is as hard a concept to communicate to students as the notion of an elegant proof or algorithm.
Happy Second Anniversary, Spirit, and close to second anniversary to Opportunity as well. Take a minute to sit back and appreciate how mind-boggling it is that we have had two rovers driving around on Mars for the past two years. It is a routine part of life that we’ve got these exploratory vehicles up there. At the least, go check out the “One Martian Year” slide show they have up.
Some MIT students performed experiments on the radio wave blocking abilities of aluminum foil hats to determine which design, if any, is most effective in blocking government mind-control rays. Most amusing – the hats seem to amplify mind-control rays. Conclusion? “It requires no stretch of the imagination to conclude that the current helmet craze is likely to have been propagated by the Government, possibly with the involvement of the FCC.”
Today is the one year anniversary of the Spirit rover landing on Mars, and it’s still going strong, as is Opportunity. If you haven’t been by NASA’s Mars Rover mission page lately, give it a visit. They’ve accumulated a ton of cool images and information, including a “Top Images of 2004” presentation.
Physics World surveyed readers and compiled a list of The Greatest Equations Ever. The linked article discusses the most popular equations as well as te various criteria which make an equation “great”. I’m happy with the placement of Maxwell’s equations at the top of the list. [via Critical Section]
The New York Times on the acceptance (or lack of acceptance) of computer-aided proofs in the mathematical community. This isn’t really they type of computer-aided proof I work with, but still an interesting article.
NASA is launching a space thermos filled with four quartz spheres to try to detect the frame-dragging and warping effects of the space time structure predicted by Einstein. Gravity Probe B will be launched in mid-April. More very cool, unmanned space experimentation.
For the next week or so, you can see our five closest planetary neighbors lined up across the night sky. The article calls it “a spectacular night show that won’t be back for another three decades”. The JPL astronomer says: “It’s semi-unique …. They’re all on the same side of the sun and stretched across the sky and that’s what is kind of pretty.” Why, he’s so enthusiastic, “he will gaze up when he walks his dog this week”. They couldn’t find a slightly more effusive astronomer to quote?
Almost everybody I know who got hooked on Tetris (including myself) admits to eventually having dreams featuring those falling, spinning blocks. So how cool is it that researchers are using this phenomenon to study the role of dreaming in learning? They found that not only did the dreaming improve performance, but that this was the case even for amnesiacs who didn’t remember having played the game the previous day, but how had dreamed about it at night. It’s also neat that they report everyone having the same basic dream: Curiously, thoughts about Tetris not associated with seeing falling pieces were … Continue reading Dreaming Tetris