Enemy Cruise Missile, Meet the U.S. Rail Gun


In this Feb. 23, 2012 photo provided by the U.S. Navy, engineers prepare to test an electromagnetic railgun prototype launcher at a test facility in Dahlgren, Va. PHOTO: AP PHOTO/U.S. NAVY, JOHN F. WILLIAMS

From the Wall Street Journal:

The U.S. Navy has developed a working prototype of a rail gun that uses electricity to fire projectiles at high speeds with great precision at incoming enemy missiles and aircraft. Already, the Navy can accurately launch projectiles at distances over 100 miles at speeds over 3,000 miles an hour.

Last year the Navy launched a trial deployment of a solid-state Laser Weapon System on board the USS Ponce in the Persian Gulf—the first effective deployment of a laser weapons system by any of the services. High-power microwave weapons that disrupt or destroy internal electronic components of enemy weapon systems are also a near-term possibility.

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It’s, like, English, or something.

From the Wall Street Journal:

BN-HY591_EDP042_P_20150419144139Lamentations about “like” are commonplace, and for good reason. Many young people—and a lot of middle-age people too—find it impossible to get through a sentence without using “like” repeatedly and for no reason at all. It has become an all-purpose seasoning: “He’s not, like, very happy about it, and, like, I’m not either, because, like, the whole thing is, like, irrational.” For some, “like” plus a facial expression or gesticulation can do most of the work of language. “I was like [expression of alarm], and he was like [expression of disdain], and now I’m like [wave of the hand].”

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The Most Accurate Clock Ever

A new type of atomic clock was recently made at the University of Colorado at Boulder that is much more accurate than any atomic clock we currently have.  This clock is so precise that it will keep perfect time for 5 billion years before being off by a second.  Sounds great, right?  Unfortunately, it’s so accurate that it can measure the difference in the rate time flows between being on the wall and being on the floor.

Right now, on the top of Mount Everest, time is passing just a little bit faster than it is in Death Valley. That’s because speed at which time passes depends on the strength of gravity. Einstein himself discovered this dependence as part of his theory of relativity, and it is a very real effect.

The relative nature of time isn’t just something seen in the extreme. If you take a clock off the floor, and hang it on the wall, Ye says, “the time will speed up by about one part in 1016.”

That is a sliver of a second. But this isn’t some effect of gravity on the clock’s machinery. Time itself is flowing more quickly on the wall than on the floor. These differences didn’t really matter until now. But this new clock is so sensitive, little changes in height throw it way off. Lift it just a couple of centimeters, Ye says, “and you will start to see that difference.”

Read the rest of the article.

The world's most precise atomic clock is a mess to look at. But it can tick for billions of years without losing a second.

The world’s most precise atomic clock is a mess to look at. But it can tick for billions of years without losing a second.

The Physics of Bending an iPhone

Let’s consider the worst case scenario.  Suppose you have skinny jeans on a super skinny leg.  The leg is so skinny that when you put the iPhone 6 Plus in your pocket, the fabric pulls straight down at a 90 degree angle to the phone.  In this case, you would need 125 N tension in the fabric to be equivalent to the iPhone test in the lab.  That’s only 28 pounds of tension, so you would think that would be ok.  But wait!  There are two problems.  First, some jeans can only take about 28 pounds of tension before ripping (not everything is Levi tough).  Second, the test at the Apple lab seemed to indicate that the iPhone could take an equivalent bending moment of 25 kg (250 N) at the center and that wouldn’t make it bend.  How much does it take to bend?  Who knows.

Read More… Could Skinny Jeans Bend an iPhone 6+

Don’t Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

The Wall Street Journal swabbed money and looked at the bacteria they found growing on the bills.  It’s worse than you thought.

Easily the most abundant species they found is one that causes acne. Others were linked to gastric ulcers, pneumonia, food poisoning and staph infections, the scientists said. Some carried genes responsible for antibiotic resistance.

“It was quite amazing to us,” said Jane Carlton, director of genome sequencing at NYU’s Center for Genomics and Systems Biology where the university-funded work was performed. “We actually found that microbes grow on money.”

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A Spell Chequed Poem

Be careful.  Just because something is spell checked doesn’t mean it makes sense.  I found this in my internet wanderings.

Eye have a spelling chequer,
It came with my Pea Sea.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss Steaks I can knot sea.

Eye strike the quays and type a whirred
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am write oar wrong
It tells me straight a weigh.

Eye ran this poem threw it,
Your shore real glad two no.
Its vary polished in its weigh.
My chequer tolled me sew.

A chequer is a bless thing,
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right all stiles of righting,
And aides me when eye rime.

Each frays come posed up on my screen
Eye trussed too bee a joule.
The chequer pours o’er every word
Two cheque sum spelling rule.

Physics Phriday: The Higgs Boson Explained in Comic Form

Many people know that the supercollider at CERN has been looking for, and may have found, the Higgs Boson.  What most people don’t understand, though, is what the Higgs Boson is.  Here is an explanation of what the Higgs is, in comic form.


Employers Asking for SAT Scores

As if taking the SAT to get into college wasn’t stressful enough, now employers are asking prospective employees for their SAT scores, even if it’s been decades since you took the test.  Good luck!

From the Wall Street Journal:

A low score doesn’t necessarily kill a person’s chances, hiring managers say; instead, they say they believe SATs and other college entrance exams like the ACT help when comparing candidates with differing backgrounds or figuring out whether someone has the raw brainpower required for the job.

But some companies do set targets, particularly on the math section. Mark Rich, managing director of consulting-industry recruiting firm Whitehouse Pimms, says clients often tell him to screen for candidates whose SAT scores placed them in or above the 95th percentile. Investment firm D.E. Shaw Group asks candidates to break out their math and verbal results.