Links for 2010-06-17

  • "In this post I'd like to address a fun physics problem.

    How long can you balance a pencil on its tip? I mean in a perfect world, how long?

    No really. Think about it a second. Try and come up with an answer before your proceed.

    What this question will become by the end of this post is something like the following:

    Given that Quantum Mechanics exists, what is the longest time you could conceivably balance a pencil, even in principle?

    I will walk you through my approach to answering this question. I think it is a good problem to illustrate how to solve non-trivial physics problems. "

  • "Their last video memorably featured a Rube Goldberg machine that filled a two-floor warehouse and took four minutes to complete its sequence of wonder and mayhem. This time, the tech-happy band recruited Jeff Lieberman and Eric Gunther-artists, musicians, and all-around interesting guys-to direct the video.

    Together, the team warped time. "

  • "The CDF Collaboration has recently produced results of a search for Supersymmetric Higgs bosons in events with three or more bottom-quark jets. Here I wish to give just the highlights of this analysis, but before I do I will try to spend 5' on making sense of the previous sentence.

    In good order, below I explain first of all 1) what is CDF, 2) what is the Tevatron, 3) what are Higgs bosons from Supersymmetry, 4) how can these be sought with bottom quarks, and 5) what are bottom quark jets. After I am done with these five explanations, those of you who are still here will no doubt appreciate the results I am showing today. Can I make it in 5 minutes ? Sure, but can you read forty lines of text in the same amount of time ?"

  • "As Raphael Tsavkko Garcia explains on Global Voices, Galvão Bueno's style of announcing is deeply unpopular in Brazil, and Brazilian twitterers have been posting their dissatisfaction: "Cala boca, Galvão" translates as "Shut up, Galvão", and the phrase has been heavily in use since the global tournament started.

    But that's not obvious to non-Portuguese speakers, and, as Garcia reports, Twitter users started asking each other, "What's Cala Boca Galvao about?" Brazilian users have been quick - and mischievous - in their responses. Some have spread the rumor that the phrase is the title of Lady Gaga's newest single. But the really fun response plays on the wired world's willingness to participate in meaningless online activism."

  • "All soccer coaches do a strange job, of course. Compared with the men who preside over, say, NBA teams, the soccer manager is a passive, theatrical figure. His power to change the course of a match is limited, partly because there are no timeouts, partly because he can make so few substitutions. His pre-match planning may be heroic, but once the whistle blows, he's reduced to shouting from the sideline and performing broad emotional pantomime. On television, especially, the manager seems to spend much of each game in the uneasy zone between tennis coach, unable to impart any wisdom to his harried charges, and unhinged Little League parent, reduced to screaming at nobody in particular."

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It seems the pencil would be a superposition of the various ways it could fall (from the set of directions radial to the original upright axis), making for a sort of conical blur ... (unless a special something selected one of the directions ... ;-o)