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Everyday science

3D cosmic-microwave background, iPhone paper and Dance Your PhD winner

28 Oct 2016 Michael Banks

By Michael Banks

It might look like a kind of dumpling at first sight, but upon closer inspection the eagle eyed might spot that it is actually a 3D version of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) – the thermal remnant of the Big Bang that came into being when the universe was only 380 000 years old. The model was created by physicist Dave Clements from Imperial College London who says that detailed maps of the CMB – created by space telescopes such as the European Space Agency’s Planck satellite – are difficult to view in 2D.

So Clements, together with two students, have now created a model you can make with a 3D printer. “Presenting the CMB in a truly 3D form, that can be held in the hand and felt rather than viewed, has many potential benefits for teaching and outreach work, and is especially relevant for those with a visual disability,” adds Clements. The researchers have provided two files – both free to download – that lets you recreate the model with a 3D printer. Read more about it in the European Journal of Physics.

Could you write a paper using just your iPhone? Well, when Christoph Bartneck at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, was invited to submit a manuscript to the International Conference on Atomic and Nuclear Physics, in the US in November he decided to do just that. Yet instead of carrying out any actual research, he just used his phone’s auto-complete function to write the manuscript.

“I started a sentence with ‘Atomic’ or ‘Nuclear’ and then randomly hit the auto-complete suggestions,” he writes in a blog post. “The text really does not make any sense.” Bartneck, who admits he knows nothing about nuclear physics, received a response only a couple hours after submission that his paper had been accepted. “I know that [Apple’s software] is pretty good,” he says. “but reaching tenure has never been this close.”

And finally, Jacob Brubert from Cambridge University has won this year’s Dance Your PhD contest for his portrayal of his research developing a new biocompatible artificial heart valve. Bagging the $1000 top prize, the dance apparently took Brubert and some friends a few weekends to produce and features a surgeon as well as tap dancers and a salsa-dancing cow and pig. The annual competition, now in its ninth year, is run by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). As well as the cash, the prize include a trip to the AAAS meeting in Boston next year, which will screen the video as well as feature a talk by Brubert. Watch the video below.

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