Fifty Shades, by Gray [podcast 76]

A researcher named Gray and his research about combinations of clothing — that’s the possibly vexing heart of 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  — with dramatic readings by Harvard physicist Melissa Franklin — tells about: Fifty shades, by Gray— “The Science of Style: In Fashion, Colors Should Match […]

The Hercules Number: How a Dimensionless Physical Parameter Got Its Name

I did not conceive or give birth to the Hercules Number. But I did name it. Here’s the story. In science and mathematics, we often get to name things. To help with exposition, sometimes we essentially have to name them, because it can help us do a better job of explaining things. In fact, we also enjoy […]

Peano and the cat, and the earth

More from the history of cats and physics, as explained in the Skull in the Stars blog: Giuseppe Peano (1858-1932) is not well-known to the general public, but he was a formidable voice and researcher in mathematics, publishing over 200 books and papers during his lifetime…. When Peano encountered the problem of the falling cat in […]

Rejoice? Run? Hide? The Dawn of Experimental Econophysics

Everything can be explained, to some degree, by marrying economics to physics. This book does that: Experimental Econophysics: Properties and Mechanisms of Laboratory Markets, by Ji-Ping Huang [pictured here], Springer, 2014, ISBN 978-3-662-44234-0. The author explains: “Experimental Econophysics describes the method of controlled human experiments, which is developed by physicists to study problems in economics […]

“Imagine if the window were made of ants…”

Ig Nobel Prize winner David Hu researches many questions that involve biology AND mathematics AND physics. And often, fluid dynamics. In this video, he confides, concisely, some of the biophysical ways that ants survive perilous, quickly-changing physical conditions: The 2015 Ig Nobel Prize for physics was awarded to Patricia Yang [USA and TAIWAN], David Hu [USA and TAIWAN], and […]

Colin Raston tells of Un-boiling an Egg, and the Ig Nobel Prize

Colin Raston tells how he and colleagues found a way to partially un-boil an egg, and of how this led to an Ig Nobel Prize, in this Flinders University video: The 2015 Ig Nobel Prize for chemistry was awarded to Callum Ormonde and Colin Raston [AUSTRALIA], and Tom Yuan, Stephan Kudlacek, Sameeran Kunche, Joshua N. Smith, William […]

The Acoustics of Breaking Chopsticks

What are the acoustics of breaking a bamboo chopstick? According to a new paper by physicist Tzay-Ming Hong and his colleagues at National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan, it’s kind of like the acoustics of breaking a bundle spaghetti: they both apparently resemble the Gutenberg–Richter scaling law, which relates earthquake magnitude to the frequency of earthquakes with at […]