Winter has already arrived in much of the northern hemisphere and with it snow. Folks at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada – which has already had a snowfall or two this winter — have put together “14 fascinating physics facts about flakes (of snow)”. They have also posted a video of a 2012 lecture by Kenneth Libbrecht, who studies the physics of snow at Caltech. You can watch it above.
Earlier this month, items associated with the late Stephen Hawking sold for nearly £1m at auction. If you missed out on acquiring a piece of physics history, 43 items that once belonged to the Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman will be auctioned at Sotheby’s in New York today at 10:00 local time.
Items include Feynman’s Nobel Prize medal, which he bagged in 1965 for his work on theoretical particle physics including quantum electrodynamics. If you have a spare $1m, it could be yours. If your budget is a bit tighter, you could bid on a Brazilian tambourine once owned by Feynman, which is expected to fetch about $4000. Most of the items on the block are books, papers and manuscripts including a 1959 draft of Feynman’s prescient lecture on nanotechnology “There is plenty of room at the bottom” – which is expected to bag about $25,000.
In 1984 the world’s first commercial transport system based on magnetic levitation (maglev) opened at Birmingham International Airport. It ran for 11 years before closing because of high maintenance costs. Other projects have been proposed and prototypes built across the world, but the technology has never taken off. In “Magnetic levitation: the return of transport’s great ‘what if?’”, Christopher Beanland describes how maglev transport is enjoying a revival in Asia.