26 October, 2008

MIT students study the effectiveness of aluminium foil helmets

A relatively old, but extremely funny article:

Among a fringe community of paranoids, aluminum helmets serve as the protective measure of choice against invasive radio signals. We investigate the efficacy of three aluminum helmet designs on a sample group of four individuals. Using a $250,000 network analyser, we find that although on average all helmets attenuate invasive radio frequencies in either directions (either emanating from an outside source, or emanating from the cranium of the subject), certain frequencies are in fact greatly amplified. These amplified frequencies coincide with radio bands reserved for government use according to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Statistical evidence suggests the use of helmets may in fact enhance the government's invasive abilities. We speculate that the government may in fact have started the helmet craze for this reason.

25 October, 2008

X-ray from the Scotch tape

A funny article in Nature:

Relative motion between two contacting surfaces can produce visible light, called triboluminescence. This concentration of diffuse mechanical energy into electromagnetic radiation has previously been observed to extend even to X-ray energies. Here we report that peeling common adhesive tape in a moderate vacuum produces radio and visible emission, along with nanosecond, 100-mW X-ray pulses that are correlated with stick–slip peeling events. For the observed 15-keV peak in X-ray energy, various models give a competing picture of the discharge process, with the length of the gap between the separating faces of the tape being 30 or 300 m at the moment of emission. The intensity of X-ray triboluminescence allowed us to use it as a source for X-ray imaging. The limits on energies and flash widths that can be achieved are beyond current theories of tribology.

23 October, 2008

Happy Mole Day!

It turned out that today (10/23 in American notation) is a Mole Day...

21 October, 2008


Surprisingly enough there is a peer-reviewed alternative to Wikipedia, called Scholarpedia. The authors pretend that 

"...Scholarpedia articles could be cited, articles are not frozen and outdated, but dynamic, subject to an ongoing process of improvement moderated by their curators."

So it is supposed to be better than Wiki, due to the peer-review system, and better than any printed issues, because they cannot be changed.

I wonder whether Scholarpedia will really become a source of "articles that could be cited".

20 October, 2008

A popular article about Zeno effect

Some time ago we were asked to write a little popular article in the Oktober issue of the Czech journal Chemické Listy, in occasion to the 80th birthday of Prof. Rudolf Zahradnik. For a long time he was a president of Czech academy of sciences, and about ten years ago was even asked to be a Czech president candidate, but refused.

Finally, we came up with an article about quantum Zeno effect, called "Kvantový Zenonův jev aneb co nesejde z oči, nezestárne", which sounds in English as "Quantum Zeno effect, or who's kept in sight, won't age".

This is the first article by myself, which I do not really understand, because it was translated and published in Czech.

17 October, 2008

The most specialized journal I ever seen

Today I came across a journal called "Platinum metals review", which is present in our labrary,but isn't indexed by Web of Science, though.

12 October, 2008

Links for 12.10.08

10 October, 2008

For this day

Echte Männer essen keinen Honig, sie kauen Bienen.

07 October, 2008

Nobel Prize in physics 2008

I am completely ignorant in the field of particle physics, but here is an excellent essay about the science behind the today's prize.

05 October, 2008

The teacher's day

Today is a Teacher's day in Russia (also in Pakistan and Philippines :-), and www.google.ru looks like this:

The date is chosen to coincide with the World Teacher's Day, defined by UNESCO.

The 2008 Ig Nobel Prize Winners

Since I'm a physicist, I present physics the first:

PHYSICS PRIZE. Dorian Raymer of the Ocean Observatories Initiative at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA, and Douglas Smith of the University of California, San Diego, USA, for proving mathematically that heaps of string or hair or almost anything else will inevitably tangle themselves up in knots.

But, my favorite one is a chemical one:

CHEMISTRY PRIZE. Sharee A. Umpierre of the University of Puerto Rico, Joseph A. Hill of The Fertility Centers of New England (USA), Deborah J. Anderson of Boston University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School (USA), for discovering that Coca-Cola is an effective spermicide, and to Chuang-Ye Hong of Taipei Medical University (Taiwan), C.C. Shieh, P. Wu, and B.N. Chiang (all of Taiwan) for discovering that it is not.

here are other prizes

01 October, 2008

A terrific Nature cover

I wonder whether this is an "accidental degeneracy", or there is some hidden symmetry in it...