Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Lost Head Physics Puzzler Launching October 10 - Inside Mac Games

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Lost Head Physics Puzzler Launching October 10
6:00 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Lost Head, a new physics-based puzzle title from Alawar Entertainment, will arrive at Mac Game Store on October 10, and is currently available for pre-order. The game features 72 levels, five worlds, 10 interactive objects, and 30 collectibles.

Franken-Stitch has lost his head! Twist and turn your way through this physics-based puzzler to reunite him with his glorious dome. We've heard of losing your head, but this is taking it to a whole new level! Life is hard when your noggin won't stay sewn to your shoulders. Help Franken-Stitch reclaim his head by using realistic physics and interactive objects on 72 challenging levels spanning five awesome worlds! Let the good times - and the Franken-heads - roll!


  • 72 challenging levels
  • Five awesome worlds
  • 10 interactive objects
  • In-game tutorial
  • 30 collectibles
Requirements (subject to change):
  • OS X 10.5 or later
  • 1 GHz processor
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 200 MB hard drive space
  • 1024x768 screen resolution
Lost Head can be pre-ordered now for $6.99 (USD).Lost Head (add to watch list)
Pre-Order Lost Head
Other Mac Games News for Wednesday, September 19, 2012

• Combat Mission: Fortress Italy Demo Released 6:00 AM
• Guild Wars 2 Mac Beta Launched 6:00 AM
• Lost Head Physics Puzzler Launching October 10 6:00 AM
• Project Eternity Mac Confirmed 6:00 AM
• River Simulator 2012 Available At MGS This Month 6:00 AM
• Shadowrun Video Q&A Released 6:00 AM
• Space Pirates And Zombies Invades MGS 6:00 AM
• Sword Of Fargoal 2 Aims To Bring C64 Adventure To Modern Era 6:00 AM
• The Banner Saga: Factions Launching This November 6:00 AM
• The Music Of Pandaria 6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, September 19, 2012 on one page

Mac Games News for Tuesday, September 18, 2012

• Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition Delayed, NPC Feature Revealed 6:00 AM
• FTL: Faster Than Light Now Available 6:00 AM
• Mac Version A Possibility For Obsidian's Project Eternity 6:00 AM
• Planetary Annihilation: Third Highest Funded Kickstarter 6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, September 18, 2012 on one page

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Two Cultures Meet: Physics and the Arts in Emergence -

This weekend, Cornell will present an intriguing experiment with the production of Emergence, an interdisciplinary theatre piece exploring the boundaries and interactions between art and science. 

The work is the result of a collaboration among Cornell professor of physics Itai Cohen, director and professor of performing and media arts Melanie Dreyer-Lude, playwright and Ph.D. student Aoise Stratford, with additional contributions from Ph.D. candidate in science communication Megan K. Halpern and Max Evjen, artistic and executive director of Redshift Productions.

The work centers on the character of Amanda, a physicist who is involved in a turbulent relationship while also suffering from agoraphobia. In exploring the struggles in Amanda’s life, the nexus of two seemingly opposed methodologies â€" scientific calculation and artistic expression â€" is revealed. As a work of pure theatre, Emergence would be the relatively straightforward tale of one woman’s tribulations with the challenges of life â€" but Emergence functions on many levels.

As one could surmise from the diverse collaboration team that envisioned the project, the play will be more than just a play. According to director Melanie Dreyer-Lude, “Emergence represents an unusual and significant collaboration between two experts in very different fields. Physicists work from certainty. They like outcomes and measurable [things]. Theater artists are interested in process and subjectivity.” The very concept of the work then is inspired by this interaction between the certitude and dispassion of scientific analysis and the murky, irrational realities of the world in which we all (including scientists) must live, work, and love.

Beyond the themes, the construction of the character of Amanda reflects this objective-subjective dichotomy, through the catalyst of her social difficulties. Living with a foot in both worlds and struggling to find balance, Amanda embodies the perpetual dance we execute to navigate through life. The selection of agoraphobia as Amanda’s ailment is significant â€" it is a chimerical anxiety arising from the perception that one is in an environment one cannot control. While control is central to all scientific experimentation, it is in many ways only an illusion in reality; while Amanda may long for her lover in the solitude of the lab, she may also seek to escape the complex irrationalities of the relationship when forced to participate in it.

The connections and interactions between the arts and sciences abound in Emergence, whose title itself is a reference to the physical field of study called “emergent phenomena.” Emergent phenomena exist only as a function of simple interactions among members of a population of phenomena; they are not present in members of the population. The parallels to life are as obvious as those to science â€" from the people who cross our paths, to the decisions we make about work, romance, or life, we unwittingly construct complex, often unpredictable situations from our many, seemingly insignificant decisions, situations that do not exist without the interactions.

Emergence also includes, in its own complexity, a series of moments of audience participation. Part physics experiment, part theatre, the idea of including the viewers of Emergence makes them more than merely observers, while simultaneously adding to the complexity and the unpredictability of the performance’s realization. This serves of an illustration of Eisenberg’s uncertainty principle, which holds that you can not observe something without affecting it.

Everyone on the production team agrees, Emergence is a surprising and effective illustration of the confluence and synthesis of art and science. Cohen was pleased to find a vehicle for presenting physics in an uncompromising way in a fashion that would make a standard theatre audience receptive and engaged. Director Melanie Dreyer-Lude found surprising parallels between artists and scientists in her collaboration with Cohen. Playwright Aoise Stratford faced the challenge of writing the story for the stage when she reconciled the scientific sides of artists to the creative sides of physicists.

Tickets for Emergence are $4 (+$1 processing fee). For more information or to buy tickets, go to, call 607-254-ARTS or visit the box office in the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts, 430 College Ave., between 12:30-4 p.m. weekdays. Performances are on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, September  20-22 at 7:30 p.m. in the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts.

Research and Markets: Building Physics - Heat, Air and Moisture - The Herald |

â€" Research and Markets ( has announced the addition of John Wiley and Sons Ltd's new book "Building Physics - Heat, Air and Moisture" to their offering.

Bad experiences with construction quality, the energy crises of 1973 and 1979, complaints about 'sick buildings', thermal, acoustical, visual and olfactory discomfort, the move towards more sustainability, have all accelerated the development of a field, which until 35 years ago was hardly more than an academic exercise: building physics.

Through the application of existing physical knowledge and the combination with information coming from other disciplines, the field helps to understand the physical performance of building parts, buildings and the built environment, and translates it into correct design and construction.

The book discusses the theory behind the heat and mass transport in and through building components. Steady and non steady state heat conduction, heat convection and thermal radiation are discussed in depth, followed by typical building-related thermal concepts such as reference temperatures, surface film coefficients, the thermal transmissivity, the solar transmissivity, thermal bridging and the periodic thermal properties. Water vapour and water vapour flow and moisture flow in and through building materials and building components is analyzed in depth, mixed up with several engineering concepts which allow a first order analysis of phenomena such as the vapour balance, the mold, mildew and dust mites risk, surface condensation, sorption, capillary suction, rain absorption and drying. In a last section, heat and mass transfer are combined into one overall model staying closest to the real hygrothermal response of building components, as observed in field experiments.

The book combines the theory of heat and mass transfer with typical building engineering applications. The line from theory to application is dressed in a correct and clear way. In the theory, oversimplification is avoided.

This book is the result of thirty years teaching, research and consultancy activity of the author.

For more information visit

Source: John Wiley and Sons Ltd

New Survey Reveals Trends Among Those with Physics Bachelor's - Science Careers Blog (blog)

The American Institute of Physics (AIP) last week released its annual survey of employment trends among recent graduates with a bachelor's degree in physics. The survey consists of responses from nearly 12,000 graduates from the classes of 2009 and 2010. The results show that the following year 60% of them were enrolled in graduate school and 40% had entered the workforce--approximately the same ratio as in recent years. 

Of those 40% who entered the workforce, a slight majority--53%--went into the private sector. Of those private-sector workers, three-quarters work in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, of which engineering is the biggest draw, accounting for 32% of all physics bachelor's degree-holders employed in the private sector. Also popular in the STEM fields are computer and information systems jobs, which account for 21% of physics bachelor's workers. Rounding out the private sector statistics, 8% work in "Other STEM" jobs, 8% work in "Other Natural Sciences" jobs, 5% work in physics and astronomy (highlighting the necessity of a graduate degree to work in these fields), and 26% are employed in non-STEM fields, such as finance, accounting, or hourly-wage jobs.

Workers who took public-sector jobs included those who joined the military, went to work for the government or national labs, work at colleges and universities, or became high school teachers.

The highest-paying of all these jobs, according to AIP's survey, tend to be private-sector jobs in STEM fields, followed closely by STEM jobs in civilian government positions and national laboratories, and then private-sector non-STEM jobs, including quantitative analyst jobs (see Science Careers' coverage of such jobs here).

Survey respondents who worked in STEM fields reported greater overall job satisfaction and job security than those who worked in non-STEM fields, though both categories of workers expressed happiness that they were able to find work in this sluggish economy. When asked about which particular skills they felt had made them employable, many reported that undergraduate research experience helped prop up their credentials, while others suggested that simultaneously learning computer programming skills had broadened their career options.

Also of note is that physics bachelor's degree-holders who enter the workforce don't necessarily forget about higher-education aspirations: 6% of those considered to be employed by the AIP survey were also enrolled in graduate school part-time, and 37% responded that they were planning to enroll in graduate school in the near future.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Holden Thorp: stuck in thermodynamics - N.C. State University Technician Online

The news of UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp’s resignation came on the heels of the scandal involving Tami Hansbrough â€" thickening the plot of the perpetually unfolding athletic scandal. Perhaps this is a story more about a chemistry professor who’s in way over his head than a chancellor linked to corruption.

As the face of UNC-CH, it makes sense for Thorp to resign. However, he could have saved the university some embarrassment with stronger leadership.

Before former head football coach Butch Davis was fired in July 2011, it seemed that Thorp and the university stood firmly behind Davis. Then after fumbling around, the university finally took firm action and fired Davis, as if someone had pulled it by the ear and forced the decision suddenly (perhaps someone did). Even Davis said that he was shocked by his dismissal.

Since that media field day, more and more news about questionable practices and activities inside UNC-CH have surfaced. All the while, Thorp didn’t issue any strong statements or stake a strong leadership position, other than the obligatory university plug that the institution remained committed to academic integrity.

Even Tar Heel fans didn’t seem too pleased with Thorp’s leadership. Shortly after Butch Davis’ firing, anonymous Tar Heel sports fans (and by extension, fans of the university) created a website with a straight-forward message: In the “Our Mission” section of the webpage, the site states:

“We originally built this site because we felt strongly about the leadership and the future of our university. Time and time again Holden Thorp proved that while he may be a great professor and a brilliant educational mind, he was not a leader. His lack of public relations experience and management skills was very apparent over the course of his term as chancellor.”

More than 1,000 people “like” the Facebook page â€" students and fans.

Thorp undoubtedly has a brilliant mind, but has not been the strong leader a university like UNC-CH needs, especially in a time when the institution’s reputation is on the line. After all, it is the state’s flagship university, according to a former interim football coach.

Thorp will stay at UNC-CH as a chemistry professor. To his detriment as chancellor, he probably adhered too strictly to the First Law of Thermodynamics, the law of the conservation of energy, which states that energy cannot be created or destroyed â€" but it doesn’t apply to leadership. 

Thorp will pass the buck he inherited along to someone else, instead of breaking out of the “conservation of energy” mind-set and creating change. But perhaps he will be able to explain this naturally occurring phenomenon, or his shortcomings as a chancellor, better as a professor than as an administrator. Who knows if he learned about thermodynamics at N.C. State as a chemistry instructor in 1991, or as dean of the UNC-CH College of Arts and Sciences in 2007, but this simple law of energetics will have new meaning for soon-to-be professor Thorp this summer.

Will Science Someday Rule Out the Possibility of God? -

The Helix Nebula
This colour-composite image of the Helix Nebula (NGC 7293) was created from images obtained using the the Wide Field Imager (WFI), an astronomical camera attached to the 2.2-metre Max-Planck Society/ESO telescope at the La Silla observatory in Chile.
CREDIT: CNES 2012/Astrium Services/Spot Image

Over the past few centuries, science can be said to have gradually chipped away at the traditional grounds for believing in God. Much of what once seemed mysterious â€" the existence of humanity, the life-bearing perfection of Earth, the workings of the universe â€" can now be explained by biology, astronomy, physics and other domains of science. 

Although cosmic mysteries remain, Sean Carroll, a theoretical cosmologist at the California Institute of Technology, says there's good reason to think science will ultimately arrive at a complete understanding of the universe that leaves no grounds for God whatsoever.

Carroll argues that God's sphere of influence has shrunk drastically in modern times, as physics and cosmology have expanded in their ability to explain the origin and evolution of the universe. "As we learn more about the universe, there's less and less need to look outside it for help," he told Life's Little Mysteries.

He thinks the sphere of supernatural influence will eventually shrink to nil. But could science really eventually explain everything?

Beginning of time

Gobs of evidence have been collected in favor of the Big Bang model of cosmology, or the notion that the universe expanded from a hot, infinitely dense state to its current cooler, more expansive state over the course of 13.7 billion years. Cosmologists can model what happened from 10^-43 seconds after the Big Bang until now, but the split-second before that remains murky. Some theologians have tried to equate the moment of the Big Bang with the description of the creation of the world found in the Bible and other religious texts; they argue that something â€" i.e., God â€" must have initiated the explosive event.

However, in Carroll's opinion, progress in cosmology will eventually eliminate any perceived need for a Big Bang trigger-puller.

As he explained in a recent article in the "Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity" (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), a foremost goal of modern physics is to formulate a working theory that describes the entire universe, from subatomic to astronomical scales, within a single framework. Such a theory, called "quantum gravity," will necessarily account for what happened at the moment of the Big Bang. Some versions of quantum gravity theory that have been proposed by cosmologists predict that the Big Bang, rather than being the starting point of time, was just "a transitional stage in an eternal universe," in Carroll's words. For example, one model holds that the universe acts like a balloon that inflates and deflates over and over under its own steam. If, in fact, time had no beginning, this shuts the book on Genesis. [Big Bang Was Actually a Phase Change, New Theory Says]

Other versions of quantum gravity theory currently being explored by cosmologists predict that time did start at the Big Bang. But these versions of events don't cast a role for God either. Not only do they describe the evolution of the universe since the Big Bang, but they also account for how time was able to get underway in the first place. As such, these quantum gravity theories still constitute complete, self-contained descriptions of the history of the universe. "Nothing in the fact that there is a first moment of time, in other words, necessitates that an external something is required to bring the universe about at that moment," Carroll wrote.

Another way to put it is that contemporary physics theories, though still under development and awaiting future experimental testing, are turning out to be capable of explaining why Big Bangs occur, without the need for a supernatural jumpstart. As Alex Filippenko, an astrophysicist at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a conference talk earlier this year, "The Big Bang could've occurred as a result of just the laws of physics being there. With the laws of physics, you can get universes."

Parallel universes

But there are other potential grounds for God. Physicists have observed that many of the physical constants that define our universe, from the mass of the electron to the density of dark energy, are eerily perfect for supporting life. Alter one of these constants by a hair, and the universe becomes  unrecognizable. "For example, if the mass of the neutron were a bit larger (in comparison to the mass of the proton) than its actual value, hydrogen would not fuse into deuterium and conventional stars would be impossible," Carroll said. And thus, so would life as we know it. [7 Theories on the Origin of Life]

Theologians often seize upon the so-called "fine-tuning" of the physical constants as evidence that God must have had a hand in them; it seems he chose the constants just for us. But contemporary physics explains our seemingly supernatural good luck in a different way.

Some versions of quantum gravity theory, including string theory, predict that our life-giving universe is but one of an infinite number of universes that altogether make up the multiverse. Among these infinite universes, the full range of values of all the physical constants are represented, and only some of the universes have values for the constants that enable the formation of stars, planets and life as we know it. We find ourselves in one of the lucky universes (because where else?). [Parallel Universes Explained in 200 Words]

Some theologians counter that it is far simpler to invoke God than to postulate the existence of infinitely many universes in order to explain our universe's life-giving perfection. To them, Carroll retorts that the multiverse wasn't postulated as a complicated way to explain fine-tuning. On the contrary, it follows as a natural consequence of our best, most elegant theories.

Once again, if or when these theories prove correct, "a multiverse happens, whether you like it or not," he wrote. And there goes God's hand in things. [Poll: Do You Believe in God?]

The reason why

Another role for God is as a raison d'être for the universe. Even if cosmologists manage to explain how the universe began, and why it seems so fine-tuned for life, the question might remain why there is something as opposed to nothing. To many people, the answer to the question is God. According to Carroll, this answer pales under scrutiny. There can be no answer to such a question, he says.

"Most scientists … suspect that the search for ultimate explanations eventually terminates in some final theory of the world, along with the phrase 'and that's just how it is,'" Carroll wrote. People who find this unsatisfying are failing to treat the entire universe as something unique â€" "something for which a different set of standards is appropriate." A complete scientific theory that accounts for everything in the universe doesn't need an external explanation in the same way that specific things within the universe need external explanations. In fact, Carroll argues, wrapping another layer of explanation (i.e., God) around a self-contained theory of everything would just be an unnecessary complication. (The theory already works without God.)

Judged by the standards of any other scientific theory, the "God hypothesis" does not do very well, Carroll argues. But he grants that "the idea of God has functions other than those of a scientific hypothesis."

Psychology research suggests that belief in the supernatural acts as societal glue and motivates people to follow the rules; further, belief in the afterlife helps people grieve and staves off fears of death.

"We're not designed at the level of theoretical physics," Daniel Kruger, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Michigan, told LiveScience last year. What matters to most people "is what happens at the human scale, relationships to other people, things we experience in a lifetime."

Follow Natalie Wolchover on Twitter @nattyover or Life's Little Mysteries @llmysteries. We're also on Facebook & Google+.

Oxford University Press Joins SCOAP Transparent Open Access Model - Science 2.0

On the road to true Open Publishing, where taxpayer money isn't used to pay to publish or to read already taxpayer-funded studies at all, the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing (SCOAP) in Particle Physics has set a new waypoint, and Oxford University Press has signed up Progress of Theoretical and Experimental Physics (PTEP) for this new transparent model of open access, where members can see how the taxpayer money is being spent.  

Oxford University Press is not jumping into freeing science just yet; they have 5,500 employees in 50 countries worldwide and 6,000 new publications a year.  They have 10 other open access journals in their stable, and PTEP was already a legacy open access journal, so it will not be hurting their revenue - but it is a start down the path to a better way.

The SCOAP model is interesting. High Energy Physics has long embraced Science 2.0 publishing, with the arXiv preprint service leading the way with no costs to authors or readers. Open access came later and most OA journals still charge $1000-2000 per paper where they papers are peer-reviewed or not, and the largest companies do tens of millions of dollars in revenue, money which all still comes from taxpayers, since grants have to pay for it either way. The big advantage to OA is that at least anyone can read the work.

SCOAP does not charge authors to publish.  Instead, HEP funding agencies and libraries cancel their journal subscriptions and then each country supports the peer-review service directly  according to its share of HEP publishing.  Like in legacy OA, publishers make the electronic versions of their journals free to read. 

SCOAP says the total cost of its service will max out at 10 million Euros per year, far less than the global expenditure in subscriptions or open access payments to HEP journals. 

High energy physics is a good test case because physicists have long been leaders in open publishing and the large majority of HEP articles are published in six peer-reviewed journals. The open and competitive procedure conducted by CERN for the benefit of SCOAP took into account the quality of the journals (as measured by their Impact Factor), the quality of the services provided (as measured by their re-use licenses and delivery formats), and the unit price for publishing each article.

SCOAP will start operations in 2014 and articles will be available to read freely in perpetuity under a CC-BY license (authors for the original creation must be credited). Progress of Theoretical and Experimental Physics is owned by the Physical Society of Japan. Norisuke Sakai, Editor-in-Chief, said, “It is a great pleasure to have PTEP included in the SCOAP project. PTEP has now started publishing special issue articles and receiving manuscripts for the regular publications in 2013. The journal is the successor to Progress of Theoretical Physics, founded in 1946 by Hideki Yukawa, the first Japanese Nobel Laureate. I am very excited to start the journal’s new chapter as a fully open access title with the new journal name to cover both experimental and theoretical physics, and look forward to developing our relationship with SCOAP.”