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Everyday science

Blood Moons, teachers who moulded the minds of great physicists and more

10 Oct 2014 Tushna Commissariat

By Tushna Commissariat

This week has been an exciting and busy one at Physics World HQ, what with two Nobel prizes that included physics – the actual Nobel prize for physics, of course, as well as this year’s chemistry Nobel, which was given to three physicists. Since last week’s Red Folder was full of Nobel trivia and facts, I will only point you to two more interesting Nobel-related articles. The first is an excellent article on the Slate website, by one of our regular freelance authors Gabriel Popkin, where he looks at female physicists who deserve a Nobel. His list is in no way exhaustive, but does well to highlight some excellent work done by women that deserves recognition, so do take a look at “These women should win a Nobel prize in physics”. Also, Ethan Siegel from the Starts With a Bang! blog has written an excellent essay to silence any would-be naysayers about the worthiness of giving the Nobel to the researchers who developed blue LEDs. In “Why blue LEDs are worth a Nobel Prize”, he outlines the history of LEDs and talks about just how many applications they have in today’s times.

Most people have fond memories of that one special teacher who was their favourite – one who was passionate about their subject or an entertaining educator and helped sculpt their young minds – and physicists are no different. The Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Canada has put together a list of “Teachers who inspired great scientists”. The pictorial list includes the likes of Einstein, Rutherford, Hawking, Laflamme among others. Above is one of the images, which shows physicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell talking about her high-school physics teacher.

This week, a large part of the globe was riveted by the total lunar eclipse and the “blood Moon” (so-called thanks to the red hue the Moon takes on) that ensued. We have seen some truly spectacular images of the event (which is the second this year) and this image gallery on the Independent‘s website has some lovely photographs. We also came across this fun story on the National Geographic website about “Lunar eclipse myths from around the world” – so take a look to find out who used to believe that the Moon was being attacked by a jaguar, and who though the Moon’s 20 wives help protect him!

Finally, for some weekend reading, take a look at where Virgin Galactic is at with its spaceflight programme, read about how Hawaiians are protesting at the opening of the giant Thirty Meter Telescope and read the intriguing and humorous account of improbably named and unreal physicist “Stronzo Bestiale” (apologies to our Italian readers) and his publication history.

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