30 January, 2011

The swastikas

Researchers have designed the first emitter of circularly polarized light made from a stand-alone semiconductor device:

"Giving Light a Spin", Physical Review Focus

I doubt that a paper containing nazi symbols would be published in Germany nowadays :-)


24 January, 2011

Hell for scientists

First Circle: Limbo
"The uppermost circle is not a place of punishment, so much as regret. Those who have committed no scientific sins as such, but who turned a blind eye to it, and encouraged it by their awarding of grants and publications, spend eternity on top of this barren mountain, watching the carnage below and reflecting on how they are partially responsible..."

Second Circle: Overselling
"This circle is reserved for those who exaggerated the importantance of their work in order to get grants or write better papers. Sinners are trapped in a huge pit, neck-deep in horrible sludge. Each sinner is provided with the single rung of a ladder, labelled 'The Way Out - Scientists Crack Problem of Second Circle of Hell"

Third Circle: Post-Hoc Storytelling
"Sinners condemned to this circle must constantly dodge the attacks of demons armed with bows and arrows, firing more or less at random. Every time someone is hit in some part of their body, the demon proceeds to explain at enormous length how they were aiming for that exact spot all along."

Fourth Circle: P-Value Fishing
"Those who tried every statistical test in the book until they got a p value less than 0.05 find themselves here, an enormous lake of murky water. Sinners sit on boats and must fish for their food. Fortunately, they have a huge selection of different fishing rods and nets (brandnames include Bayes, Student, Spearman and many more). Unfortunately, only one in 20 fish are edible, so they are constantly hungry."

Fifth Circle: Creative Use of Outliers
"Those who 'cleaned up' their results by excluding inconvenient data-points are condemned here. Demons pluck out their hairs one by one, every time explaining that they are better off without that hair because there was something wrong with it."

Sixth Circle: Plagiarism
"This circle is entirely empty because as soon as a sinner arrives, a winged demon carries them to another circle and forces them to suffer the punishment meted out to the people there. After their 3 year "post" is up, they are carried to another circle, and so on..."

Seventh Circle: Non-Publication of Data
"Here sinners are chained to burning chairs in front of desks covered with broken typewriters. Only if they can write an article describing their predicament, will they be set free. Each desk has a file-drawer stuffed full of these, but the drawers are locked.

Eighth Circle: Partial Publication of Data
"At any one time exactly half of the sinners here are chased around by demons prodding them with spears. The demons choose who to chase at random after ensuring that the groups are matched for age, gender, height and weight. Howling desert winds blow a constant torrent of articles announcing the success of a new program to enhance participation in physical exercise - but with no mention of the side effects."

Ninth Circle: Inventing Data
"Here Satan himself lies trapped forever in a block of solid ice alongside the worst sinners of all. Frozen in front of their eyes is a paper explaining very convincingly that water cannot freeze in the environmental conditions of this part of Hell. Unfortunately, the data were made up."


Take care,


20 January, 2011

Physical Review X

American Physical Society started a new journal - Physical Review X. It's somehow analogous to the New Journal of Physics: an online-only open-access journal, covering all branches of physics. As far as I understand, there will be no page limit for articles, and you'll have to pay $1500 to publish there (you also retain copyright to your articles due to open-access).

The first call for papers opens in March 2011, so hurry up! :-)

Take care,


18 January, 2011

Conspiracy doesn't work

I had a job interview in one of the US universities. It was full of conspiracy: one day per every candidate, you're not allowed to attend other candidates' talks or even show up on the campus during that time. I find it great, probably better than the European system where all the short-listed candidates often spend the whole day together.

Flying to London on my way home I started a small talk with a girl sitting next to me. Guess what? It turned out that she was interviewed at the same place the day before. You know, these transatlantic planes are huge, like 50 rows, so the probability of such an event seems to be negligible. But it happened anyway.

Conspiracy just doesn't work.

Take care,


09 January, 2011

Chemistry Journals and Chinese Mothers

Two links for today:

1) "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior" - how Chineese kids are raised

2) Chemistry Craziness - Taylor&Francis granted free access to the plethora of chemistry journals until January, 31

Take care,


08 January, 2011

What's Special About This Number?

A webpage, explaining why every single number is special. Nice.


07 January, 2011

Ladies, please cry if you don't feel like having sex

A funny article from the Science magazine:

Gelstein et al., "Human Tears Contain a Chemosignal"

The authors found that women's tears contain some molecules, which, being sniffed by men, reduce their sexual desire and the level of testosterone:

"...We found that merely sniffing negative-emotion–related odorless tears obtained from women donors, induced reductions in sexual appeal attributed by men to pictures of women’s faces. Moreover, after sniffing such tears, men experienced reduced self-rated sexual arousal, reduced physiological measures of arousal, and reduced levels of testosterone."

via Igor Ivanov's blog

Take care,


06 January, 2011

Starting your car think about Einstein

Today a funny article appeared online:

R. Ahuja et al., "Relativity and the Lead-Acid Battery", Phys. Rev. Lett. 106, 018301 (2011)

Scientists from Uppsala and Helsinki calculated the voltage produced by a lead-acid battery (such as we got in cars). The theory yielded 2.13 V, which is in compelling agreement with experiment (2.11 V).

The funny part is that most of this voltage (1.7-1.8 V) arises from the relativistic effects in Pb compounds.

As the authors put it: "Finally, we note that cars start due to relativity."

Take care,