Field of Science

The Newton Medal is (bit) late

I think there is a subtle black humor in the 2016 Isaac Newton Medal, that was awarded by Tom Kibble:
The award is recognition of his contributions to mankind through his insight into the origins of mass and also through establishing astroparticle physics as a new branch of physics.
Kibble died on the 2nd June 2016 and he cannot retire the prize, but in every case we can remember his most important contribution, Global Conservation Laws and Massless Particles with Gerald Guralnik and Carl Richard Hagen about the Brout-Englert-Higgs mechanism:
An intersting reading about the story behind the paper is The History of the Theory of the Spontaneous Breaking by Guralnik:
Shortly thereafter, as we were literally placing the manuscript in the envelope to be sent to PRL, Kibble came into the office bearing two papers by Higgs and the one by Englert and Brout. These had just arrived in the then very slow and unreliable (because of strikes and the peculiarities of Imperial College) mail. We were very surprised and even amazed. We had no idea that there was any competing interest in the problem, particularly outside of the United States. Hagen and I quickly glanced at these papers and thought that, while they aimed at the same point, they did not form a serious chall enge to our work.

G. S. Guralnik, C. R. Hagen, T. W. B. Kibble, 1964, 'Global Conservation Laws and Massless Particles', Physical Review Letters, vol. 13, no. 20, pp. 585-587 (sci-hib)
Gerald S. Guralnik, 2009, The History of the Guralnik, Hagen and Kibble development of the Theory of Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking and Gauge Particles, International Journal of Modern Physics A, vol. 24, no. 14, pp. 2601-2627 (arXiv)

Another bit of gravity

After the first detection of gravitational waves from merged black holes, LIGO detected a new signal:
The two LIGO gravitational wave detectors in Hanford Washington and Livingston Louisiana have caught a second robust signal from two black holes in their final orbits and then their coalescence into a single black hole. This event, dubbed GW151226, was seen on December 26th at 03:38:53 (in Universal Coordinated Time, also known as Greenwich Mean Time), near the end of LIGO's first observing period ("O1"), and was immediately nicknamed "the Boxing Day event".
A paper (pdf) about this observation was published on Physical Review Letters:
The inferred component masses are consistent with values dynamically measured in x-ray binaries, but are obtained through the independent measurement process of gravitational-wave detection. Although it is challenging to constrain the spins of the initial black holes, we can conclude that at least one black hole had spin greater than 0.2. These recent detections in Advanced LIGO's first observing period have revealed a population of binary black holes that heralds the opening of the field of gravitational-wave astronomy.
About the first observation, GW150914, you can read Binary Black Hole Mergers in the first Advanced LIGO Observing Run and Dynamical formation of the GW150914 binary black hole (sci-hub) (or Black hole pairs spat out of mosh pits make gravitational waves).

How to produce stationary wave fields

A cylindrical surface of stationary light from
Zamboni-Rached, M., Recami, E., & Hernández-Figueroa, H. (2005). Theory of "frozen waves": modeling the shape of stationary wave fields Journal of the Optical Society of America A, 22 (11) DOI: 10.1364/JOSAA.22.002465 (arXiv)
On the 15th december, 2005, was published an interesting patent (I found it via Research Gate), Method and apparatus for producing stationary intense wave fields of arbitrary shape by Erasmo Recami, Michel Rached Zamboni, Hugo Enrique Ernandez Figueros, Valerio Abate, Cesar Augusto Dartora, Kleber Suza Nobrega, Marco Mattiuzzi:
Method for producing a stationary wave field of arbitrary shape comprising the steps of defining at least one volume being limited in the direction of the axis of propagation of a beam, of the type $0 \leq z \leq L$; defining an intensity pattern within the said region $0 \leq z \leq L$ by a function $F(z)$, describing the said localized and stationary intensity pattern, which is approximated by means of a Fourier expansion or by a similar expansion in terms of (trigonometric) orthogonal functions; providing a generic superposition of Bessel or other beams highly transversally confined; calculating the maximum number of superimposed Bessel beams the amplitudes, the phase velocities and the relative phases of each Bessel beam of the superposition, and the transverse and longitudinal wavenumbers of each Bessel beam of the superposition.
The invention is based on the following theoretical papers:

Alice underground: the door, the quaternion and the relativity

Alice underground is the first version of Aline in the wonderland by Lewis Carroll. The original manuscript, illustrated by Carroll himself, was given to the little Alice Liddell for Christmas in 1864 and picked up the story that he had told to Alice and her sisters Lorina and Edith during a summer's afternoon, precisely on July the 4th, 1862. This first version of the carrollian fantasy novel is, ultimately, a restricted version of Alice, where various characters and episodes completely absent in Underground are added, such as the Duchess or the team composed by the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the Dormouse.
The intial, interesting considerations about underground is about the importance of the trees and the doors: following the suggestion by Adele Cammarata(3), we can assume that the tree and the door that Alice cross to enter the garden of the Queen of Hearts, completely absent in Wonderland, is linked with the Celtic tradition. Indeed the oak is one of the sacred trees of the druids, symbolizing a link between heaven and earth(1). In this way the oak, which in Celtic was called duir, is a real door that connects people with the gods, but also ourselves with our inner part. So, from an etymological point of view, a carved door in a tree trunk is a Celtic symbol used to identify the Alice's passage towards a more stable phase after the size's changes of the previous scenes.
These changes in size, alluding both to the transition to adulthood, in perfect connection with the Druidic symbolism, and with the more classic homothetic transformations, i.e. the transformations which, without changing the proportions of a geometric figure, change its size. All these changes remain unchanged in the transition to the second version, including the meeting with the Caterpillar, who continues to ask Alice:
Who are you?

Doubt like a salmon

An happy #towelday to all readers!
If you has ready and appreciate also one book by Douglas Adams, I think that you could have a little idea of what the people who knew him proved after his death. So, Peter Guzzardi composed The Salmond of Doubt with the idea to make an hearthful tribute to the writer of the Hitchhiker's Guide using unpublished articles, interviews and the third unfinished novel of the series of Dirk Gently, which also gives its name to collection.

from the italian cover of the book, by Franco Brambilla

Transit of Mercury

We speak about astronomical transit or simply a transit when an astronomical body move between the observer and the celestial body that he observes. In particular the transit was used by Planck to discover exolpanets, but we can use also to observe some events that occur in our solar system. And between 9th and 10th May it occurs the transit of Mercury between Sun and Earth.
In the figure below (via EclipseWise) you can see the visibility of the transit:
More details on: NASA |

How to become a superhero

from Amazing Fantasy by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
We analyze a collaboration network based on the Marvel Universe comic books. First, we consider the system as a binary network, where two characters are connected if they appear in the same publication. The analysis of degree correlations reveals that, in contrast to most real social networks, the Marvel Universe presents a disassortative mixing on the degree. Then, we use a weight measure to study the system as a weighted network. This allows us to find and characterize well defined communities. Through the analysis of the community structure and the clustering as a function of the degree we show that the network presents a hierarchical structure. Finally, we comment on possible mechanisms responsible for the particular motifs observed.
Gleiser, P. (2007). How to become a superhero Journal of Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Experiment, 2007 (09) DOI: 10.1088/1742-5468/2007/09/P09020 (arXiv)