There is a new (February, 2017) dance piece Incarnations which purports to have "Quantum Leaps, When Physics Meets Dance". It would be fun to see.
There is a play Creation's Birthday written by Hasan Padamsee, Head of Fermilab's Technical Division, which is being presented by Genesis Theatrical Productions of Chicago during March, 2015. The play is described as "the story of the genesis of the big bang theory through the legendary battle between astronomer Edwin Hubble and science icon Albert Einstein."
There was an article in the February, 1987, Chicago Tribune which claimed that the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory outside Chicago was a fabulous place for single women to venture since it was filled with dashing, intelligent, single young men. Well, I was at Fermilab at the time and one thing can be said in support of the veracity of the article - there certainly were very few women around the place. Times have changed. There was a play, described as "a new comedy about love, coffee and quantum physics", performed (February 2000) at the Bailiwick Repertory Theatre in downtown Chicago called "now then again" which is set at Fermilab! The play was called "a deft little romantic screwball comedy with a very brainy twist" in the review in the Chicago Sun Times. It is being put on again (June, 2014) in Glen Ellen - Village Theatre Guild show mixes love, quantum mechanics. This is truly strange.
Muons can be used for nuclear threat detection inside large volume containers.
I've always been a huge fan of Neil Young and liked his quote from the February 16, 2008, Globe & Mail, "The time when music could change the world is past. Back then [during the late 60's], we were part of 'the movement.' Today there is no movement. Today, it's science, physics and spirituality that can change the world." I thought that would be the biggest connection between Neil Young and physics. But no, he was spotted in 2009 in his video for the song "Light a Candle" wearing a Big Bang t-shirt designed by a graphic designer from SLAC. Who'd a thunk it.
What is it about physics and opera? There is yet another physics-themed opera happening 2014 - the solar inspired Prince Igor - which is reviewed here. Philip Glass has wrote a third(!) physics opera - Kepler - which had its first run in the fall of 2009. Also in 2009 the physicist
|Image of Lisa Randall and the set of
Antimatter was back in the public eye in 2009 with the release of the Angels & Demons. Antimatter caught playwrights' attention in the past. A large particle accelerator lab, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), was the site for a theatre experience about Paul Dirac's mathematical "discovery" of antimatter. The play, called `The Oracle of Delphi', was performed in the experimental pit of the Delphi experiment! There is a writeup about this event in the March 2000 Issue of the CERN Courier as well as an article about the author. The same show, under the title
|Image from the performance of
The Oracle of Delphi at CERN.
Time has been an obsession of philosophers and physicists since, well, since forever! Check out the essay entries (December 2008) to fq(x) - Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology on The Nature of Time. There is also a new book by Dan Falk called In Search of Time: Journeys along a Curious Dimension about which the Ottawa Citizen said "Falk's book is what Hawking's A Brief History of Time should have been." Falk has also posted an essay on time travel which you might find amusing. There have always been plenty of musings on that old chestnut, "Did time begin with the Big Bang?" There are many philosophical discussions - like Time before Time by Rudiger Vaas - as well various physics heavyweights including Stephen Hawking on The Beginning of Time. . There are several sites on how one experimentally examines such a question including Observing the Beginning of Time and Beyond Einstein. Finally, this is a question with a long history of theological debate. If you are interested in this kind of thing, have a look at "Genesis: Science and the Beginning of Time" [PDF] and God and the Beginning of Time.
There was, of course, the famous (September 2008)
Large Hadron Rap
which was covered all over the media. Now (August 2009) you can
Groove to the physics mix tape.
It seems the
full of HEPsters!
I wrote earlier about a doo-wap band -
Les Horrible Cernettes (the acronym is a
a particle physics "joke") - who were born in the early 1990's at CERN's
They were even written up in the December 28, 1998, New York Times. And to think I saw them when they were just starting out.
Several years ago I wrote "Where are all the beautiful people in science?" Way back in 1997 there used to be a calendar called "Studmuffins of Science". There was no 1998 version because there were too few samples in the studmuffin pool according to the authors of the calendar! Well, there is at least one studmuffin left in the high energy pool at Fermilab according to Chicago Magazine. It was revealed in Fermilab Today that Mark Jackson, a theoretical particle physicist, was chosen 'One of Chicago's top 10 bachelors' of 2008. Of course, Fermilab was full of nothing but bachelors back in 1987 when I was there. This is verified by the rather funny article from the February, 1987, Chicago Tribune discussing what life was like for a young male at Fermilab at that time.
Well, it seems that there are folks that just don't agree with the results put up earlier about
the paintings of
Jackson Pollock. While the paintings of Pollock
have always been considered chaotic, they were supposedly shown to be fractal in an
in Nature! The May 2005 article
Multifractal Fingerprints in the Visual Arts uses fractal analysis to
distinguish art styles.
Now Jones-Smith et al. in
Drip Paintings and Fractal
Analysis say they "definitively demonstrate, by analyzing paintings by Pollock and others,
that fractal criteria provide no information about artistic authenticity." There is a newer
(Sept 2009) paper by Jones-Smith et al. in which they further discuss the limitations of the
Now there appears to be a backlash against the backlash growing against the superstring revolution. That is, the superstringers are fighting back (see, for example, Joseph Polchinski's article All Strung Out?
P. Coddington/Univ. of Adelaide
Connecting many triangular bits of flat spacetime to make curvy spacetimes demonstrates how our four-dimensional world can arise from the fuzzy "quantum foam" that may exist at the tiniest scales.
[Graphic is from
Physical Review Focus]
There is a play called Copenhagen by the renowned playwright and author Michael Frayn (he wrote "Noises Off", for example) which explores the occasion in 1941 when Heisenberg paid a visit to Bohr in Copenhagen. The intriguing question, of
Martha Henry as Margrethe Bohr in the Toronto Production of Copenhagen- PHOTO CREDIT: SWD Photography
Lastly for those of a theatrical bent (or those just bent), there is a play by Steve Martin (yes, the guy with an arrow through his head) called Picasso at the Lapin Agile which is about an imagined meeting of Picasso and Einstein in Paris in 1904. The play was performed in Toronto in the fall of 2001. The reviews have been generally good and, not suprisingly, it sounds like the play adds a touch of silliness to what otherwise could be a pretty sterile topic.
The millenium had barely begun and already the end appeared near on the rather silly debate as to whether there is anything new to learn in science. There have recently been many claiming "The end of science." I hardly think the case for this statement is very strong. And neither does Frank Close, a respected theoretical physicist and science writer who closes his nicely written CERN Courier article `The electron century' with the words, "If there is any message from this that we can be sure is a guide for the coming century, it is this: prepare for surprises." And neither does Sir John Maddox, who was for almost 23 years editor in chief of the British journal Nature. Maddox articulates this view in the article "The Unexpected Science to Come..." which appeared in the December, 1999 issue of Scientific American. This comprises a synopsis of the ideas from his book "WHAT REMAINS TO BE DISCOVERED: Mapping the Secrets of the Universe, the Origins of Life, and the Future of the Human Race" which has gotten good reviews, including one in the January 10, 1999 edition of the New York Times Book Review. The first chapter of the book is a wonderful summary of how each of the last 5 centuries has seen monumental and surprising advances in science - arguing, of course, that it is just silly to hold the belief that the next century will be any different. There are limits to science, of course, as discussed in this review of the book "IMPOSSIBILITY: The Limits of Science and the Science of Limits" by John D. Barrow. But that science is at an end? In his usual succinct style, no less than Hans Bethe in the March 1999 issue of Reviews of Modern Physics had this to say;
A hundred years ago, some of the great physicists in England and Continental
Europe predicted that physics was at an end. We know what actually happened
Looking at the predictions of 100 years ago, it would be foolish to make predictions for the next 100 years.
|Position||PhysicsWeb survey||Physics World survey|
|1||Sir Isaac Newton||Albert Einstein|
|2||Albert Einstein||Sir Isaac Newton|
|3||James Clerk Maxwell||James Clerk Maxwell|
|4||Galileo Galilei||Niels Bohr|
|5||Paul Dirac||Werner Heisenberg|
|6||Niels Bohr||Galileo Galilei|
|7||Max Planck||Richard Feynman|
Paul Dirac &
|10||Erwin Schrödinger||Ernest Rutherford|
It was clearly "Millenium Madness" as there was a spate of "greatest" this or that of the millenium and/or century towards the end of 1999. Albert Einstein was chosen as " the individual who had the most impact in the past 1,000 years" from lists of the top 20 individuals submitted to the Globe & Mail by readers. Three of the top ten were physicists with Newton coming in at number 5 and Galileo at number 10. Also, Albert Einstein was chosen Time Magazine's Person of the Century. Scientists were not immune to the madness, of course, as shown in the Table to the right where the results of two surveys are given. Isaac Newton came first and Einstein second in the survey of which scientists have made the most important contributions to physics by PhysicsWeb from Britain's Institute of Physics. The results of a survey conducted among 100 of today's leading physicists by the BBC News in the U.K. for Physics World are also shown. There is a nice essay entitled "Genius Among Geniuses" which explains why Newton and Einstein top all lists. Here is the last word on the subject from writers to the American Physical Society. Just for completeness(?), I include a list of the 10 Most Important Scientists in History according to Isaac Asimov.
There has always been a fascination with time. You can take A Walk Through Time, a site on the evolution of time measurement from The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the U.S. Even the Christmas Lectures (made famous by Faraday) of 1999 was on "Arrows of Time." The article Seeing Faster by James Gleick in the New York Times Magazine gives a fascinating glimpse into how flash photography has changed our perception of time. The site also includes plenty of interesting links. There seems a particular fascination with time travel including a site with "explanations" of relatvity and time travel as well as Brian's Views on Time Travel. I didn't realize that such things were simply an opinion.
Okay, even though I know such techniques would never be employed by a physicist, I thought A List Of Fallacious Arguments from Prof. Don Lindsay of the University of Colorado would still be useful to have around ... to help out a friend or relative.
Allan Bromley made a nice plea for more science funding (in the U.S. anyway) in an op-ed piece in the August (1999) Washington Post. It is probably true that the connection between economic growth and scientific research can never be pointed out too often.
Goth of Skyline College in California has compiled some interesting lists
of things including:
The Magnitudes of Physics,
The Chronology of Physics, and
The Words of Physics.
Have you ever wondered how a group of
people can reach a decision that seems illogical (e.g., why did they
hire somebody else!)? It has been shown that, yes, in fact, group decisions
are chaotic! Check out a synopsis
of the Physical Review Letters paper.
Some physicists have managed to insinuate
the consciousness of the general populace. There is a
which shows various currency in many
countries which have a physicist's picture on them. Canada, of course,
is not among these countries - we still worship politicians or the
British monarchy. There is also a
showing scientists on stamps from around the world as well as
Selective History of Science on Stamps.
Does it seem to you that acronyms, like
cockroaches, seem to multiply
no matter what is done to counter them? There is an
essay in the June 16, 1998, New York Times about how
even physicists can't keep track of the acronyms in our field.
Eighteen Arbitrary Parameters of the Standard Model
in your Everyday Life is an interesting attempt by Bob Cahn of Lawrence
Berkeley National Lab to relate the arcana of particle physics to
our world. The article requires a fairly sophisticated
(upper-year undergraduate or graduate level)
understanding of physics but is nicely written.