A couple days ago, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory released a number of videos of nuclear test explosions. It is worth watching some of these to understand the magnitude of destruction that these can cause. Here is a link to the Lawrence Livermore playlist on YouTube, and below is a video explaining a bit of the background concerning the release of these videos:
Below is a helpful MinutePhysics video that talks about the actual dangers concerning nuclear weapons:
On a somewhat unrelated note, while at the APS March Meeting this past week, Peter Abbamonte mentioned this video to me, which I also found pretty startling:
Lastly, here is a tragicomedy that takes place in the wild — it seems like this orca was never told by its mother not to play with its food:
I am away this week on a beam time run — here are some masterpieces I’ve come across while trying to remain sane:
A theory is something nobody believes, except the person who made it. An experiment is something everybody believes, except the person who made it.
– Albert Einstein
I’m not sure what to think about this, but apparently they are quite delicious.
Click the image for similar cartoons…
Thanks to Judy Nguyen who shared these with me!
Posted in Humor
I haven’t been blogging much recently because I just moved from Chicago to Boston. Also, I don’t currently have access to internet in my new apartment. As always, there’s an XKCD comic to capture this scenario:
Hopefully, I’ll be back and posting more often soon!
An Interesting Research Avenue: A couple months ago, Stephane Mangin of the Insitut Jean Lamour gave a talk on all-optical helicity-dependent magnetic switching (what a mouthful!) at Argonne, which was fascinating. I was reminded of the talk yesterday when a review article on the topic appeared on the arXiv. The basic phenomenon is that in certain materials, one is able to send in a femtosecond laser pulse onto a magnetic material and switch the direction of magnetization using circularly polarized light. This effect is reversible (in the sense that circularly polarized light in the opposite direction will result in a magnetization in the opposite direction) and is reproducible. During the talk, Mangin was able to show us some remarkable videos of the phenomenon, which unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find online.
The initial study that sparked a lot of this work was this paper by Beaurepaire et al., which showed ultrafast demagnetization in nickel films in 1996, a whole 20 years ago! The more recent study that triggered most of the current work was this paper by Stanciu et al. in which it was shown that the magnetization direction could be switched with a circularly polarized 40-femtosecond laser pulse on ferromagnetic film alloys of GdFeCo. For a while, it was thought that this effect was specific to the GdFeCo material class, but it has since been shown that all-optical helicity-dependent magnetic switching is actually a more general phenomenon and has been observed now in many materials (see this paper by Mangin and co-workers for example). It will be interesting to see how this research plays out with respect to the magnetic storage industry. The ability to read and write on the femtosecond to picosecond timescale is definitely something to watch out for.
Update: After my post on the Gibbs paradox last week, a few readers pointed out that there exists some controversy over the textbook explanation that I presented. I am grateful that they provided links to some articles discussing the subtleties involved in the paradox. Although one commenter suggested Appendix D of E. Atlee Jackson’s textbook, I was not able to get a hold of this. It looks like a promising textbook, so I may end up just buying it, however!
The links that I found helpful about the Gibbs paradox were Jaynes’ article (pdf!) and this article by R. Swendsen. In particular, I found Jaynes’ discussion of Whifnium and Whoofnium interesting in the role that ignorance and knowledge plays our ability to extract work from a partitioned gases. Swendsen’s tries to redefine entropy classically (what he calls Boltzmann’s definition of entropy), which I have to think about a little more. But at the moment, I don’t think I buy his argument that this resolves the Gibbs paradox completely.
Q: What did Mrs. Cow say to Mr. Cow?
A: Hubby, could you please mooo the lawn?
Q: What did Mr. Cow say back to Mrs. Cow?
A: But, sweetheart, then what am I going to eat?
Correlation does not imply causation…