The dust library - physics-math - 03 January 2012. Read full article Continue reading page |1|2 Specks of dust are as unique as snowflakes – but no one had ever paid much attention to what individual particles are made of.

Until now THE dusty old library is a bit of a cliché. But take away all the books and you are left with something rather interesting, in its own small way. Welcome to the dust library. Dust means different things to different people. Is It Time to Overhaul the Calendar? Forget leap years, months with 28 days and your birthday falling on a different day of the week each year.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland say they have a better way to mark time: a new calendar in which every year is identical to the one before. Their proposed calendar overhaul — largely unprecedented in the 430 years since Pope Gregory XIII instituted the Gregorian calendar we still use today — would divvy out months and weeks so that every calendar date would always fall on the same day of the week. Christmas, for example, would forever come on a Sunday. "The calendar I'm advocating isn't nearly as accurate" as the Gregorian calendar, said Richard Henry, an astrophysicist at Johns Hopkins who has been pushing for calendar reform for years.

A Fun DIY Science Goodie: Proof Yourself against Sensationalized Stats. For my book Brain Trust, I interviewed Keith Devlin, NPR’s “Math Guy,” a World Economic Forum fellow, and math professor at Stanford.

And being a mathematician, Devlin thinks about things differently than the world at large. For example, in his very good monthly column Devlin’s Angle, he quotes the following problem, originally designed by puzzle master Gary Foshee: “I tell you that I have two children, and that (at least) one of them is a boy born on Tuesday.

The High-Stakes Math Behind the West's Greatest River. Ultimate Fighting vs. math: no holds barred - Ideas. Burning Desire for Efficiency. Ever wonder how efficient it is to heat water?

Of course you have! Ever measured it? Whoa, mister, now you’ve gone too far! I recently devised a laser-phototransistor gauge to monitor my natural gas meter dial—like ya do. As a side benefit, I acquired good data on how much energy goes into various domestic uses of natural gas. Heating Basics The amount of energy it takes to heat water is so well-established, that it is the basis for several prominent units of energy. So if I want to take 500 mℓ of water from 18°C to boiling, I need to expend 82×0.5 kcal to get the job done, or 171.6 kJ. Measuring the Gas My natural gas meter usually receives little attention from me—which is saying something for a person as measurement/data crazed as myself. An Adventure in the Nth Dimension.

On the mystery of a ball that fills a box, but vanishes in the vastness of higher dimensions Brian Hayes. Seven equations that rule your world - physics-math - 13 February 2012. Essay: Nature's Secrets Foretold. By now, all aficionados of physics news — and quite a few people who don’t know physics from phonics — have heard about the discovery of the Higgs boson.

It’s the biggest news in physics ever tweeted. And it came after a long wait. For more than three decades, the Higgs has been physicists’ version of King Arthur’s Holy Grail, Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth, Captain Ahab’s Moby Dick. Mathematics: Mapping a fixed point. On Points. Wrinkled doughnut solves geometrical mystery - physics-math - 30 April 2012. This may be the weirdest doughnut you have ever seen, but it solves a long-standing geometrical puzzle that evaded mathematicians including Nobel laureate John Nash, who inspired the film A Beautiful Mind.

Topology is the branch of mathematics concerned with the geometric deformations of objects. Font for digits lets numbers punch their weight - physics-math - 12 May 2012. THE symbols we use to represent numbers are, mathematically speaking, arbitrary.

Now there is a way to write numbers so that their areas equal their numerical values. The font, called FatFonts, could transform the art of data visualisation, allowing a single infographic to convey both a visual overview and exact values. "Scientific figures might benefit from this hybrid nature because scientists want both to see and to read data," says Miguel Nacenta, a computer scientist at the University of St Andrews, UK, who developed the concept with colleagues at the University of Calgary, Canada. Infographics are all the rage as a means to display information now that computers can gather and sort vast reams of data. However, fancy charts and images often obscure the actual data behind them. For single digit numbers, this was fairly straightforward. To represent numbers with multiple digits, the team devised a system of nested digits.

New Scientist Not just a website! How to Beat the Odds at Judging Risk. In Their Prime: Mathematicians Come Closer to Solving Goldbach's Weak Conjecture. One of the oldest unsolved problems in mathematics is also among the easiest to grasp.

The weak Goldbach conjecture says that you can break up any odd number into the sum of, at most, three prime numbers (numbers that cannot be evenly divided by any other number except themselves or 1). For example: 35 = 19 + 13 + 3 or 77 = 53 + 13 + 11. The Search for a More Perfect Kilogram. The perfect kilogram is getting lighter.

Can science find a better measure? Photo: Christopher Griffith; kilogram models by Jim Zivic The official US kilogram — the physical prototype against which all weights in the United States are calibrated — cannot be touched by human hands except in rare circumstances. Sealed beneath a bell jar and locked behind three heavy doors in a laboratory 60 feet under the headquarters of the National Institute of Standards and Technology 20 miles outside Washington, DC, the shiny metal cylinder is, in many ways, better protected than the president. Agreement to tie kilogram and friends to fundamentals - physics-math - 25 October 2011. After decades of worry, toil and argument, metrologists have officially begun the process of tying the definitions of four basic units to nature's fundamental constants.

The General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) in Paris, France, has unanimously agreed on a proposal that would lead to reform of the mole, kilogram, kelvin and ampere, according to the international system of units (SI). That puts us on the cusp of a historic change in the way science sizes up the world. If the next CGPM, in four years' time, confirms the plan, it will amount to the biggest change to the SI units for a century. Proponents of the switch are thrilled. "Not a single vote against! Metal shock Nearly all measurements we make are ultimately based on the SI, with a chain of laws and rules leading back to just seven base units.