As a semi frequent flyer, and incredibly impatient stand-behinderer I couldn’t resist linking to this - Time needed to board an airplane: A power law and the structure behind it from a Norwegian group, Vidar Frette and Per Hemmer. Boarding strategy is of great importance to airlines, where the turn around time of planes – especially short haul – can make a real dent in profits. For the authors of this paper, however, it seems they just think it’s a neat model to test out 1D problems where the particles are distinguishable, rather than the more common indistinguishable particles. In a traffic model the cars are usually identical, whereas here the passengers have a specific seat booking.
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I came across this new feature in the NYT via Science Blogs by Steven Strogatz. You may remember him from his paper with Duncan Watts on small-worlds that arguably kick started modern network theory. It looks like it’s going to be a regular series so I highly recommend adding the feed to your rss reader. The article that first caught my eye was called Rock Groups. It starts by differentiating between the serious side of arithmetic and the playful side. This is something I’ve long gone on about but never quite had the nice way of putting it like these guys do.
The New York Times is running a piece about tap water and the regulation thereof called “That Tap Water Is Legal but May Be Unhealthy”. One particular contaminant becomes dangerous on exposure to sunlight so, at a lake in Los Angeles, they’ve tipped 400,000 plastic balls into the lake to block out the sunlight. Perhaps this shows I’ve been in stat-mech too long. All I could think about upon seeing this picture was - “cool, a massive 2D elastic disc simulation!”. It’s quite interesting where the crystal structure is interrupted - each one of those interfaces costs a lot of free energy.