Mars Science Laboratory Touches Down Tonight | Cosmic Variance

Nowadays everyone calls it the “Curiosity rover,” but I got to know it as the Mars Science Laboratory, and I’m too old and set in my ways to switch. Launched on November 26, 2011, the mission is scheduled to land on Mars’s Gale Crater tonight/tomorrow morning: 5:31 UTC, which translates to 1:30 a.m. Eastern time or 10:20 p.m. Pacific.

Higgs Papers Out | Cosmic Variance

We were all transfixed by the Higgs seminars on July 4, but the work was nowhere near over for the experimentalists — they had to actually write up papers describing the results. And of course taking the opportunity to do a little more analysis along the way.

Physicists Build the Best Sandcastles | Discoblog

Attention, beach-going children: science has something to say to you.
You know that towering castle of bucket-ramparts and seashell turrets you built last week with your dad?
Can’t touch this.

Music Was Better in the Sixties, Man | Cosmic Variance

Actually, popular music is arguably “better” today. But in the Sixties it was more creative — or at least more experimental. So says science. (Via Kevin Drum.)

Tools of the Trade: The Pendulum That Detects 
Extra Dimensions

While most of us take gravity for granted, physicists have a big problem with it. Their beef: As forces go, gravity is implausibly feeble.

Which Airports Will Give Wings to the Next Pandemic? | 80beats

Knowing how bugs will spread through the population is critical to containing epidemics—and airports play a huge role in the global spread of disease. Although mathematical models have attempted to predict how individual airports influence contagion, the models often looked at the later stages of an epidemic, or assumed that travellers moved randomly.

Cosmology and Philosophy at La Pietra | Cosmic Variance

I’ve traded off my reasons for not blogging much of late. Last week and before it was The Particle at the End of the Universe (in stores November 13!), but that’s now been handed in and I can kick back and catch up on my martini-drinking.

What Makes Droplets Dance Around a Hot Surface and Then Fly Away? | 80beats

To test the temperature of a frying pan, people often dribble a few drops of water onto the surface. If the pan is cold, the water sits placidly on the surface. But if the metal is hot, the droplets will skitter around like deranged dancers. What makes them move?

The Smart Scanner That May Put Shampoo Back Into Your Carry-on

It has become one of the ritual frustrations of modern air travel: getting to the security check-in and having to throw out drinks, cologne, wine, snow globes—any large bottled liquid you might have inadvertently carried with you. In the United States, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does not allow through any containers holding more than 3.4 ounces due to the risk of liquid explosives. The rule is dumb and broad because standard X-ray scanners cannot distinguish one fluid from another.


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