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“We know about the expansion of the universe, and we studied that very well, and over and above the motions of galaxies, galaxies move apart due to this expansion, over and above that expansion there are velocities that for historical reasons astronomers call peculiar velocities. And these additional velocities that galaxies have, that aren’t due to the expansion of the universe, are due to the uneven distribution of matter in the universe.”
Michael Turner, University of Chicago, on an as yet unexplained “dark flow” of matter in the cosmos, National Public Radio, September 17, 2010.
“I think it’s probably one of the most abused concepts in physics among the public. You should be wary whenever you hear something like, ‘Quantum mechanics connects you with the universe’ ... or ‘quantum mechanics unifies you with everything else.’ You can begin to be skeptical that the speaker is somehow trying to use quantum mechanics to argue fundamentally that you can change the world by thinking about it.”
Lawrence Krauss, Arizona State University, on “quantum quackery,” MSNBC.com, September 20, 2010.
“This is something people have difficulty wrapping their minds around, because it doesn’t show up in any obvious ways in our everyday lives. It’s a very subtle effect, until you’re flying close to a black hole or moving close to the speed of light.”
Sean Carroll, Caltech, on time dilation, National Public Radio, September 23, 2010.
“This technique is really nice because it allows us to measure how things change in time…Obviously people have been doing this with other techniques for many years, but it has proven hard to do at very small time scales.”
Michael Crommie, University of California, Berkeley, describing improvements to scanning tunneling microscopes, New York Times, September 27, 2010.
“The genocide in Rwanda is the closest example I can think of for this kind of behavior…It required active measures by a large group of instigators, and quite a bit of time to get started.”
Howard Davidson, Stanford, on what a civilization threatening “mind virus” might look like, FoxNews.com, September 29, 2010.
“It’s marvelous that carbon wins again. Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend but graphene gives an unexpected and a wholly new way to put the electron in carbon country; bringing a whole new range of applications and showing again the strength of the British science base. It confirms at the highest level the excellence of UK physics.”
Marshall Stoneham, University College, London, on this year’s Nobel Prize in physics, USA Today, October 5, 2010.
“The general result of this paper is that, contrary to what some previous studies have suggested, different observers would still agree about the chaotic nature of the universe…Now we establish once and for all that it is chaotic.”
Adilson Motter, Northwestern University, MSNBC.com, October 5, 2010.
“There’s a hypothesis that 4 billion years ago the young sun, like other stars, was far more active than it is now, and solar flares and other storms on the sun’s surface were much more powerful and capable of wiping out the planet’s magnetic field completely.”
Robert Lin, University of California Berkeley, The San Francisco Chronicle, October 9, 2010.
“Helium is central to half of my ongoing research and the dissertation work of several students.”
Daniel Lathrop, University of Maryland, on the projected national helium shortage, The Washington Post, October 11 2010.
“We used to think that the only real threat was from impacts that hit the ground and that the atmosphere would protect us from the small ones… We never really thought about the physics of airbursts. There hasn’t been that much research.”
Mark Boslough, Sandia National Laboratories, on asteroids that could explode in midair, MSNBC.com, October 11, 2010.
“They might have an interesting explanation for the effect, but I don’t see how this will help batters.”
Alan Nathan, University of Illinois, commenting on a recent study finding a curve ball’s effectiveness is enhanced by the batter’s peripheral vision, USA Today, October 14, 2010.
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Editor: Alan Chodos