FYI: topics for short talk/paper

Any of the suggestions below might serve as spring board of a short talk and paper. You are not limited to these but you need to settle quickly on a topic. The schedule is as follow:

Note: Some of these look huge. Find one tiny thing that interests you.

New for 2010: Car Safety: Archive

This series was on NPR just before Thanksgiving 2009.
Series overview: How safe are our roads?
Highway fatality rate by State. teanage boys more likely to be in fatal car crashes.
Wy you're not the great driver you think you are.
safe driving for seniors: officials get creative.
The urban road is a dangerous place.
`Diverging diamone' traffic flow: way of the future?
Critics say road safer, but danger still lurkes.
Golden state highways are a California nightmare.
States want to keep illeg immigrants off the road.
What would you give up for safer roads?
Congress' safety agenda faces obstacles.
Slow down; enjoy the ride.
How crash tests help bring traffic deaths down.
When driving interrupts tweeting.

Ideas of the Year

Each December the NYTimes publishes in the Sunday Magazine some "new" ideas. Each is briefly described. Once I used it as sole source. Several interesting short talks and papers emerges. For each it is possible to find one reference and from that find more. Sometimes you start one place and end another. Here are all the new ideas that are available on the web. I have identified some that might be interesting but you can look at all of them. Each has a few paragraph description; so it is easy to look thru them. * 2003; 2004, e.g., acoustic keyboard eavesdropping, augmented bar code, best way to skip a stone, exoskeleton strength, fanwing, giga-waves, thermoacoustic freezer, * 2005; 2006, e.g., ambient walkman, boomerang drone, gyroball, robot fielder, * 2007 e.g., Airborne wind turbine, best way to deflect an asteroid, electric hockey skate, lightning farms, self-righting object * 2008; e.g., biomechanical energy harvester, Brickley engine, Gallons per mile & Gas that's always less than $3 a gallon, Goalkeeper science(?), Smart grids, upside-down demolition, * 2009, Click Cover to see list of ideas, then click Intials along the top. E.g., A: artificial car noise; H: hourglass surfboard; S: Sound Cannon, W: waste tracking. Look at last page (end paper).

Views of Extrasolar Planets

More than 300 planets have been found outside the solar system, most of them discovered indirectly through their influence on their parent star. In the 28 Nov 2008 *Science* two groups presented the first direct observations of the infrared and optical signatures of planets orbiting distant stars that resemble our Sun. Kalas et al. (published online 13 Nov; ) presented Hubble Space Telescope images of a planet with a mass no more than three times that of Jupiter orbiting the star Fomalhaut, 25 light years from Earth. Marois et al. (also published online 13 Nov; ) presented near-infrared images captured by the Keck and Gemini telescopes of three giant planets orbiting a star 128 light years from Earth in the constellation Pegasus. In a podcast interview ( /short/322/5904/1120b ), lead author Christian Marois noted that this latter system resembles a scaled-up version of the outer portion of our solar system, with the planets' masses estimated to be between 5 and 13 times that of Jupiter. Both extrasolar systems are similar in that dusty debris disks surround the primary stars, both of which are younger, brighter, warmer, and more massive than the Sun. An accompanying Perspective by M. S. Marley ( ) highlighted the new observations.

See also OSU release: and faculty Scott Guadi, looking at his links (at bottom), select "Kepler Mission" and "Extrasolar Planet Search" Note: as this material is current, I only give links to NYTimes articles. When it makes a scientific journal I may replace this. (N.B. fair use constraints.)

See article from NYTimes Science 3 March 2008 on looking optically for habital planets. See also graphical material on Kepler telescope that would look for habitable planets.

Finally see Nature's News & Views take on Kepler

Eavesdropping in Cosmos

The search for extraterrestial intelligence (SETI) has gone respectable with a pyramiding award: $100,000 ⇒ $1 M ⇒ who-knows. See WSJ article for leads.

GMR: connection between basic research and commercialization

Conclusion of Nature Nanotechnology article has references.

To a first approximation, the case of spintronics appears to lend credence to the traditional linear model that posits science as a prime mover for technological applications. The real story, of course, was much more complex, revealing the interplay between basic science, instrumentation, federal policy, industrial research and perceived commercial goals. One cannot help but conclude that the ‘basic’ linear model, even if applicable, is anything but simple when examined closely enough.

Fert and Grünberg originally discovered GMR in the tradition of small-scale basic physics research. Businesses, large and small, swiftly patented and integrated it into products worth billions of dollars in annual sales and a new scientific community emerged around it. And by studying the history of GMR, we can discern connections between contemporary scientific research and engineering applications, and also gain some insight into the boundaries and shifting relations between science and technology. ❐

Biomechanics: Wobble mystery solved

It's the way people balance themselves rather than the timing of their steps that makes certain bridges wobble, John Macdonald of the University of Bristol, UK, has found.

The Millennium Bridge (pictured), a footbridge straddling the Thames in London, closed just days after it opened in June 2000 because it was wobbling sideways. It looked as if pedestrians were synchronizing their steps in time with the wobble, and that this was exacerbating the movement.

But Macdonald's model says that wasn't what was happening at all. By looking at the biomechanics of how humans balance, Macdonald has revealed the effects of the adjustments people make to keep their balance, by sticking one foot further out to the left or right. These add energy to the bridge's natural wobble. Once a critical number of people start trying to balance in this way, that extra energy becomes significant, and increases the bridge's sway.

See scientific article and look for least detailed discussions.

Quantum levitation

"Space is not completely empty; the vacuum teems with quantum mechanical energy fluctuations able to generate an attractive force between objects that are very close to each other. This 'Casimir–Lifshitz' force can cause static friction or 'stiction' in nanomachines, which must be strongly reduced. Until now only attractive interactions have been reported but in theory, if vacuum is replaced by certain media, Casimir–Lifshitz forces should become repulsive. This has now been confirmed experimentally. Repulsion, weaker than the attractive force, was measured in a carefully chosen system of interacting materials immersed in fluid. The magnitude of both forces increases as separation decreases. The repulsive forces could conceivably allow quantum levitation of objects in a fluid and lead to new types of switchable nanoscale devices with ultra-low static friction. Levitation depends only on the dielectric properties of the various materials." (Nature, editor's summary: 8 January 2009).

See News and Views on the Nature letter. There are also earlier publications.

Hubble as a Tool

Concentrate on a specific example of new science emerging from Hubble Space Telescope. See, for example, Nature review, refernced papers and other reviews. Pick one and concentrate specific contribution to keep it short, clear and focused.

How does the a crystal grow?

More than 100 years ago, Wilhelm Ostwald predicted that crystalline structures would grow from the melt via a series of unstable states — now this cascade has been observed directly in an inorganic semiconductor. See news & views description and Nature article.

Here the challenge will be to pick out one of two pictures to illustrate what has been done not to give complete story. That alone will suprise most.

Grabbing a single vortex

The ability to manipulate an individual superconducting vortex represents a powerful tool for studying the dynamics of vortices and the superconductors that support them. It could also lead to the development of a new class of fluxon-based electronics.

See news and views and Nature Physics article. Concentrate how vortex is grabbed, controlled; and how this is seen.

Tuning color by squeezing nano-quantumdots

Lattice strain has long been avoided in the world of quantum dots, but it is now being used to tune the colour of light emitted by these structures>

See news and views and Nature Nanotechnology article. Concentrate on central physics -- it is easy to get waylaid by irrelevancies.

Physics of the 'Hit"

From angles and acceleration to speed and centers of gravity, players may not understand the physics of tackling, but they knew how to wield it. This NY Times story may get you started. There is much more details on the physics in TV wrestling, tennis, baseball ... you name it.

Physics of Violins

See Nature N&F [pdf].

Rydberg atom: there can be only ones

In an ensemble of atoms with long-range dipolar interactions between them, only one atom can be excited at a time. This 'dipole blockade' has now been observed for two single atoms positioned at macroscopic distances. See News & Views and the articles by Urban and Gaetan.

Attosecond science

Stopwatch. The motion of electrons inside, around and between atoms can be captured with attosecond time resolution. A technique has now been demonstrated that can reveal electron dynamics even without attosecond light flashes. See News and Views by Kling and Krause writing on the original article by international team.

Attosecond plasma. Using dense plasmas instead of atomic or molecular gases could enable the generation of attosecond light pulses with higher energy, shorter durations and more energetic photons. Fabien Quere gives a simple picture. -------------------message being answered

Your comments and suggestions are appreciated.

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