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“The idea is pretty simple. It posits that social groups that have more members are going to be more attractive to join, and it posits that social groups have a social status or utility. For example in languages, there can be greater utility or status in speaking Spanish instead of [the dying language] Quechuan in Peru, and similarly there’s some kind of status or utility in being a member of a religion or not.”
Richard Wiener, Research Corporation for Science Advancement, on why belief in religion is on the decline, BBCNews.com, March 22, 2011.
“If you’re positioned between two major financial hubs, you may be far out of the way, rather far from population centers, maybe economically poor, but because of your unique position, that could be a natural resource.”
Alexander Wissner-Gross, Harvard University, on developing a global stock trading system, BBCNews.com, March 22, 2011
“You can only do your quantum magic as long as you have coherence… If you have a lifetime of milliseconds, that lets you do millions of operations.”
Sebastian Loth, IBM’s Almaden Research Center, on why diamond might be used to store quantum information in the future, U.S. New and World Report, March 24, 2011.
“People have mainly looked at its biological applications, treating cancer and Alzheimer’s and so on, but nobody has looked at making optical devices out of them.”
Abhishek Kumar, of the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, on using the curry powder curcumin to help detect traces of explosives, BBCNews.com, March 24, 2011.
“It’s not a magic bullet–there never is in this business… But I think as a general tool for art and art historical and archaeological exploration, it’s the best new thing to come out in a very long time.”
Robert Thorne, Cornell, on using high energy X-rays to find forged artwork, United Press International, March 28, 2011.
“I think what happened is after Three Mile Island, that event actually spurred the nuclear industry and the regulatory agency to take a very thorough look at what they were doing. …Unfortunately, it took this Macondo accident to really open up the eyes for deepwater drilling safety.”
Steven Chu, Department of Energy, comparing Fukushima to the Gulf Oil Spill, National Public Radio, March 31, 2011.
“We haven’t seen any of the heavier stuff that would come right from the core, which people saw 30 years ago during the Chernobyl accident.”
Andreas Knecht, University of Washington, on the dangers of trace amounts of radiation detected on the West Coast, U.S. New and World Report, March 29, 2011.
“The last three days we’ve had reassuring words, we’ve turned the corner, things are stable but it’s on knife’s edge, any small earthquake, any spent fuel pond boiling incident could cause the workers to evacuate.”
Michio Kaku, City College of New York, on the ongoing Fukushima disaster, ABCNews.com, March 22, 2011.
“Though we’ve developed these tools for black hole collisions, they can be applied wherever space-time is warped… For instance, I expect that people will apply vortex and tendex lines to cosmology, to black holes ripping apart, and to the singularities that live inside black holes. They’ll become standard tools throughout general relativity.”
Geoffrey Lovelace, Cornell, MSNBC.com, April 13, 2011.
And finally, some comments on the announcement from the CDF collaboration at the Tevatron at Fermilab, concerning an anomaly recently found in their data:
“Nobody knows what this is… If it is real, it would be the most significant discovery in physics in half a century.”
Christopher Hill, Fermilab, The New York Times, April 6, 2011.
“This is huge–an unexpected discovery which could completely transform high-energy physics, and cosmology as well, as the two fields are joined at the hip… But there is one big IF–if it holds up and is not explained by standard model physics.”
Michael Turner, Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, University of Chicago, MSNBC.com, April 6, 2011.
“If this thing is real, it is a new type of very heavy particle that is not one of the ones theorists have been sitting around thinking about…It would be very heavy, very interesting and very fundamental. It would turn over our understanding of particle physics.”
Michael Witherell, UC Santa Barbara, The Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2011.
“The unfortunate thing is, [the heavier particle] doesn’t appear in other analyses where it might also be expected to appear… My personal opinion is that it will probably be understood in ways that are not new physics… But even if there is just a small chance that it is new physics, that is very exciting,”
Mark Kruse, Duke University, a member of the team at Fermilab that detected the unexpected anomaly in the Tevatron’s data, The Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2011.
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Editor: Alan Chodos