Analysis of the Forces Required to Drag Sheep Over Various Surfaces

“An Analysis of the Forces Required to Drag Sheep over Various Surfaces” is a research study that won the 2003 Ig Nobel Prize in physics for its co-authors — Jack Harvey, John Culvenor, Warren Payne, Steve Cowley, Michael Lawrance, David Stuart, and Robyn Williams, of Australia. John Culvenor, one of the authors, has just boarded an airplane (that’s him, there, […]

Soap Film Opera, fluid dynamically, in France

A series of musico-visual treats — in a new genre called “soap film opera” — are being produced by Florence Elias and her colleagues at Laboratoire Matière et Sytèmes Complexes, Université Paris Diderot and at CNRS. The genre marries soap film, fluid dynamics, music, and videography. Here are three samples — “Habañera” from Carmen, “Lucilla”, and […]

Do Frogs in Helium Get Squeaky Voices? (Podcast #94)

Do frogs get all high-voiced when they breathe in some helium, the way people do? A research study explores that very question, and we explore that study, in this week’s Improbable Research podcast. SUBSCRIBE on Play.it, iTunes, or Spotify to get a new episode every week, free. This week, Marc Abrahams discusses a published helium-filled study, with dramatic readings from Dany Adams, a biology professor at Tufts University […]

Blais sings, in parallel, of quantum gravity

Timothy Blais acted out his master’s thesis (which is called “A new quantization condition for parity-violating three-dimensional gravity“) in a manner unusual for a physicist. He sang it, in n-part harmony, to the tune of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”: (Thanks to Andrea Rapisarda for bringing this to our attention.) BONUS: An older, printer-performed version of the song, which […]

Galam’s Work on Galam Models (Reviewed by Galam)

In 2008, French physicist Serge Galam wrote a review article about “Galam models,” in which he cited 71 papers, all of which were written or cowritten by him. Galam specializes in a topic known as “social physics” (or “sociophysics” for short), an area of complex systems that concerns the use of ideas and tools from physics to study collective social […]

Shadows Cast by Spider Legs, Used in Physics Calculations

Anticipating Halloween, the American Chemical Society has published a study about using the shadows cast by (kinda sorta) spider legs, for scientific purposes. The paper is: “Elegant Shadow Making Tiny Force Visible for Water-Walking Arthropods and Updated Archimedes’ Principle,” Yelong Zheng, Hongyu Lu, Wei Yin, Dashuai Tao, Lichun Shi, and Yu Tian, Langmuir, 2016, 32 (41), pp. […]

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