Many of you reading this may be familiar with ArXiv.org and many of you may not be. ArXiv is an open access library where scientists, mostly of the physics, math and computer science varieties, put up papers or pre-prints for all the world to see. Many of these are not yet peer reviewed (and maybe never will be), so you can often find papers that are fun, pop culture based, or just plain crazy-pants (I’m going to suggest a search for papers with the word “god” in the title here.) Since I like to turn to ArXiv when I have some downtime and want to explore the lighter side of science, I thought I’d share some of my favorite findings here.
If you want to join in the fun, many of my most fruitful searches come from me poking around in the “General Physics”, “Popular Physics”, and “History and Philosophy of Physics”. You can see the week’s most recent submissions under each category.
So without further ado, here’s a round-up of some fun papers from this past week.
Piezoelectrics are a type of material where, when you apply a stress to them, they accumulate a charge. Additionally, when you apply a voltage to them, the materials contract or expand. Just look at this hypothetical piezoelectric in action!
My group just got done with some beamtime at the National Synchrtron Light Source. Beamtime is when we have time to an x-ray experiment at a national lab and all work in close quarters for long hours for a week or so. This experimental involved a lot of long scans, so we really get to know each other during the down time. Here are some of the highlights from this round.
In addition to actually doing science, I’m on my department’s Quality of Life committee. We try to do things to brighten up the department and this involves planning the holiday party every year. On my end of things, I have been responsible for the “entertainment” at each part. For the past two year’s I’ve had Grad Students vs. Faculty vs. Post-Docs/Staff Jeopardy! games. Now only have they been a lot of fun, but I’ve gotten to see my adviser dominate celebrity gossip categories. He was also the only contestant to properly spell Snooki in a spelling-bee category.
I’ve decided to mix things up this year and take a cue from another classic game show: The Newlywed Game. No, no one playing is actually going to be married. And unfortunately I don’t think it will be tasteful to ask about the whoopie-making habits of those in my department (but I’m graduating in the spring so if I ever want to do so, now’s the time!). Rather we are going to have a graduate student/adviser pair-up and see which couple knows each other the best. I fully intend to spend the next week trying to come up with a groan-inducing pun for the name of the game, but right now I just have questions. So I thought it would be fun to share.