Fans of Fermilab, the Monkees and vintage American pickup trucks will love the above film. It was shot in 1970 by Monkees drummer Mickey Dolenz and shows construction of the National Accelerator Laboratory (now Fermilab) on the outskirts of Chicago. Dolenz is a big fan of particle physics and his seemingly random footage captures the essence of what it was like to create a world-class physics lab on land previously occupied by prairie farms and a village called Weston.
Dolenz was there just as the underground ring that housed the 200 GeV accelerator was being assembled by burying prefabricated concrete sections in a trench. Those of you who were around in North America in the 1970’s might also appreciate the vintage automobiles in the film, and in particular, the pickup trucks.
“Cooking fried rice with a wok is a subtle art and an even subtler science.” That is the claim of Anna Kusmer, who has written “Breaking down the physics of wok tossing” in Atlas Obscura. She speaks to David Hu and Hungtang Ko of the Georgia Institute of Technology, who have studied the physics of stir frying. “The food has to do this dance where rice grains are basically charred and then spun up in the air, so they don’t get too charred,” explains Hu. The ultimate goal of the duo’s research is to create a robot that can function as a skilled stir-fry chef – but Hu admits that half the fun of eating at a stir-fry restaurant is the spectacle of a good chef.
Regular readers of Physics World will know that we have become fascinated with ‘Oumuamua – the cigar-shaped interstellar object that is currently passing through the Solar System. But our interest in the object pales in comparison to that of Avi Loeb, who is an astrophysicist and cosmologist at Harvard University.
Earlier this month, Loeb and colleague Shmuel Bialy posted a preprint arguing that ‘Oumuamua, which came from outside of the Solar System, could be a light-sail created by an alien civilization. Now, Loeb has written an article for Scientific American called “6 strange facts about the interstellar visitor ‘Oumuamua”.
One point he makes is that ‘Oumuamua appears to be at the local standard of rest (LSR), which is defined by averaging the random motions of all the stars in the vicinity of the Sun. He likens the object to a buoy standing still in the sea as the Sun and most other local stars pass by like ships. He asks, “Could there be an array of buoys that serves as a network of relay stations or road posts, defining the average galactic frame of reference in interstellar space?”.