Physics Blogging Round-Up: Randomness, Lenses, Scooters, Time, The Expanse, Many-Worlds, Playoffs, Wireless Charging, and Bubbles

It's been a disgracefully long time since I did a links post covering what I've been posting over at Forbes. In my defense, December was a complete mess of a month...

Anyway, here's a great big bunch of stuff:

-- Football Physics: Can We Do Better Than Tossing Coins? In which I try to ease the sting of a bad overtime loss for my Giants by writing about the physics of generating random numbers.

-- How Big Is the Moon? Understanding Camera Lenses: Talking about angular size and resolution based on photos of my back yard.

-- Holiday Gift Physics: The Flying Turtle Scooter: SteelyKid has one of these at my parents' house, and I spent a bunch of time trying to figure out the physics that makes it go. Here's my attempt at an explanation.

-- Football Physics: Sports and Philosophies of Time(keeping) A somewhat joke-y look at how the way various sports monitor the passage of time maps onto different physics theories.

-- How 'The Expanse' Gets General Relativity Right: I'm enjoying this show a good deal, and have been reasonably happy with the way they manage to finesse the issue of gravity given that they're filming a show set in space in a studio here on Earth.

-- 'The Expanse' And The Physics Of Stealth In Space: Some of the plot of the show turns on the use of "stealth materials" to hide warships out in space. This is a topic that often strains plausibility in science fiction, and I try to explain why.

-- Why Does Rudolph Have A Red Nose?: A joke-y holiday post using the famous cartoon as an excuse to talk about Rayleigh scattering.

-- What the Many-Worlds Interpretation Of Quantum Physics Really Means: Prompted by a conversation at the Renaissance Weekend, yet another whack at this eternally popular topic.

-- Football Physics: Will The Best Team Win?: A toy simulation to look at the question of whether a seven-game playoff series is really an improvement over the single-elimination format used in the NFL.

-- The Surprisingly Old Physics Of Wireless Charging: I got a new smartphone with a wireless charger, and you just knew I had to get a blog post out of that. With a bonus aside about why Einstein is the wrong guy for non-physicists trying to make a Theory of Everything to claim as their inspiration.

-- The Photogenic Physics Of Soap Bubbles: There's a bunch of physics hiding in a cute picture of The Pip at the local science museum.

Whew.

That's a lot of posts since the last recap here. I'll try to be better in the future.

As usual, some stuff I was pretty happy with totally bombed, in terms of getting read. Blogging is Hard. I'm probably going to stop trying to wring new posts out of the football thing, because that's not really working. Having said that, though, I'll probably get an idea for a great "Football Physics" post later today...

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The use of election margins to claim that one shouldn't expect the best team to have more than 60% odds of beating the second best team seems very flawed to me. In a two party system, the median voter theorem predicts elections should almost always be close. I don't see any similar phenomenon in sports.

The commenting system at Forbes never works for me...

The thing about the minimum area soap bubbles is, you have to be able to get there. That is, your soap bubble is only going to find a local minimum area. At some point, the minimum will be the two flat discs (with a zero radius filament between them if you choose), but if you ever do actually get the walls of the shape (which I suspect is a hyperboloid) to touch in the middle, or at least come close enough for other effects to come into play, it will be after the flat discs are optimal. Intuitively, as the hyperboloid approaches two cones, we know the flat disc has less area than the cones, and so the hyperboloid can't be a global minimum, right?