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Stories by Jennifer Ouellette

Physics Week in Review, March 9, 2013

Welcome to another rich round-up of the best physics stuff on the web this past week. Let's get the shameless self-promotion out of the way quickly, shall we?*Be sure to check out my Slate profile of Caltech chemical engineer Frances Arnold, who figured out how to use "directed evolution" to breed all kinds of exciting new proteins and enzymes.*On Wednesday, I moderated a panel discussion at the Petersen Automotive Museum here in Los Angeles on "How Much Does Math Matter," organized by Zocalo Public Square...

March 9, 2013 — Jennifer Ouellette

Physics Week in Review: March 1, 2013

There was a lot going on in the physics corners of the Internet this week, including one of the finest examples of spontaneous public communication of science in the wild that I've seen in recent months.Remember when baseball superstar Jose Canseco took to Twitter to lay out his theory for why dinosaurs were big and launched a tsunami of rather mean-spirited snark?...

March 1, 2013 — Jennifer Ouellette

Love is Relative: An Evening with Einstein's Girl

The lights dim in the Gardenia Restaurant and Lounge, a longstanding venue for cabaret in Los Angeles, as singer/actress Gia Mora takes the stage. Clad in a slinky cocktail dress, her auburn hair pulled back and augmented with a fetching fall, she launches right into her first number...

February 25, 2013 — Jennifer Ouellette

Physics Week in Review: February 23, 2013

Here's all the cool physics news you missed this week:Soon we could all emulate Peter Parker's tingly Spidey-sense with this snazzy prototype for a SpiderSense suit using sensors and ultrasound to detect when objects get too close.Want to know the geographical origin of your shiny gemstones?...

February 23, 2013 — Jennifer Ouellette

Maxwell's Demon Meets Quantum Dots

Entropy. It's at the root of one of the most famous physics thought experiments of the 20th century (second only to the infamous Schroedinger's cat), devised by a Scottish physicist named James Clerk Maxwell, called Maxwell's Demon...

February 18, 2013 — Jennifer Ouellette

Physics Week in Review: February 16, 2013

We're re-introducing a weekly feature, offering links to the most interesting physics-ish stories around the Web. (Follow us on Twitter @JenLucPiquant to get the links as they appear.)Earlier this month, everyone's favorite astrophysicist, Neil de Grasse Tyson, speculated on Twitter that Thor's hammer, Mjolnir, would weigh as much as a herd of 300 billion elephants (assuming it's made of the same uber -dense matter as neutron stars)...

February 16, 2013 — Jennifer Ouellette

Forensic Astronomer Cracks the Case of Historic Meteor Procession

It was a cloudy winter night along the northeastern United States in February 1913, so most people might not have noticed anything unusual around 9 PM, but for a lucky few with clearer conditions -- and a penchant for staring up at the night sky -- there was a spectacular display of a series of fireballs moving from one end of the horizon to the other, following the same trajectory...

January 28, 2013 — Jennifer Ouellette

When Science Meets Fiction

This weekend I'll be at Science Online 2013 in North Carolina, moderating a panel with io9's Annalee Newitz on science and science fiction. It's a topic near and dear to both our hearts, and Annalee kicked off a pre-discussion last week with her post exploring the evolutionary biology of Star Trek ...

January 27, 2013 — Jennifer Ouellette

Notes from the Firewall

Perhaps you've been hearing rumblings in the ether about physicists wrangling over black holes and something called a firewall: namely, that we should question our longstanding assumption that someone who crosses the event horizon of a black hole won't notice anything amiss until they near the singularity -- at which point they will experience what Caltech physicist Kip Thorne once dubbed "spaghettification."So if we aren't going to be spaghettified when we fall into the black hole, what will happen instead?...

December 21, 2012 — Jennifer Ouellette

Chilling Out with Cold Plasmas

There are two things people think about when they hear the word "plasma." The first is blood plasma, the liquid part of blood that holds blood cells in suspension.

December 16, 2012 — Jennifer Ouellette

The Hagfish Goes High Fashion

Is there anything less conventionally appealing, on a purely aesthetic level, than the lowly hagfish? Perhaps -- Mother Nature likes to experiment -- but the hagfish is definitely near the top of the list...

December 16, 2012 — Jennifer Ouellette

Every Sperm is Sacred

We owe so much of our rich array of pop-cultural references to the Monty Python troupe's satirical genius. There's the "Dead Parrot" sketch, the Ministry of Silly Walks, the entire Holy Grail film -- Jen-Luc Piquant is particularly fond of the faux-French insults: "I blow my nose at you, English pig dog!" -- and of course, the musical sketch that forms the centerpiece of Monty Python's The Meaning of Life : "Every Sperm is Sacred."The incomparable Michael Palin plays a poor Catholic man who must sell his 63 children for medical experimentation because he and his wife (played by a cross-dressing Terry Jones) can no longer afford their care and feeding...

November 21, 2012 — Jennifer Ouellette

Quantum Dots of Many Colors

Earlier this month, Technology Review reported that scientists from the University of Rochester have figured out how to use nanoscale crystals called quantum dots to enhance the longevity of artificial photosynthesis...

November 20, 2012 — Jennifer Ouellette

Cold Case Files: Tycho Brahe Not Poisoned After All

There are two bits of historical trivia that people like to cite about the 16th century Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. The first is that he lost part of his nose when it was cut off in a duel in 1566 -- the dispute was over a mathematical formula, not a woman as was usually the case, although the argument occurred at a wedding banquet -- and had a metal fake nose made to replace it, which he wore strapped to his head in public.The second is that he suffered a very strange death...

November 18, 2012 — Jennifer Ouellette
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