‘Pataphysics is a pseudophilosophy dedicated to studying what lies beyond the realm of metaphysics. The term was coined and the concept created by French writer Alfred Jarry, who defined ‘pataphysics as “the science of imaginary solutions, which symbolically attributes the properties of objects, described by their virtuality, to their lineaments.” Jarry considered Hippocrates of Chios and Sophrotatos the Armenian as the fathers of this “science”.
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Aerogel is a manufactured material with the lowest bulk density of any known porous solid. It is derived from a gel in which the liquid component of the gel has been replaced with a gas. The result is an extremely low-density solid with several remarkable properties, most notably its effectiveness as a thermal insulator. It is nicknamed frozen smoke, solid smoke, solid air or blue smoke due to its translucent nature and the way light scatters in the material.
Argo is a global array of 3,000 free-drifting profiling floats that measures the temperature and salinity of the upper 2000 m of the ocean. This allows, for the first time, continuous monitoring of the temperature, salinity, and velocity of the upper ocean, with all data being relayed and made publicly available within hours after collection.
Ferrofluid is a liquid which becomes strongly magnetized in the presence of a magnetic field.
Rita Levi Montalcini is an Italian neurologist who, together with colleague Stanley Cohen, received the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of Nerve growth factor (NGF). More importantly, she’s a fucking style icon.
Osmium is an extremely dense, blue-gray, hard but brittle metal that remains lustrous even at high temperatures. Due to its hardness, brittleness, and very high melting point (the fourth highest of all elements), solid osmium is difficult to machine, form, or work. Osmium is generally considered to be the densest known element, narrowly defeating iridium.
Jonas Salk made scientists and journalists alike go goofy. As one of the only living scientists whose face was known the world over, Salk, in the public’s eye, had a superstar aura. Airplane pilots would announce that he was on board, and passengers would burst into applause. Hotels routinely would upgrade him into their penthouse suites. A meal at a restaurant inevitably meant an interruption from an admirer… and scientists approached him with drop-jawed wonder, as though some of the stardust might rub off.
Super-Kamiokande, or Super-K for short, is a neutrino observatory in the city of Hida, Gifu Prefecture, Japan. The observatory was designed to search for proton decay, study solar and atmospheric neutrinos, and keep watch for supernovas in the Milky Way Galaxy.
Superfluid is a state of matter in which the matter behaves like a fluid without viscosity and with extremely high thermal conductivity. The substance, which appears to be a normal liquid, will flow without friction past any surface, which allows it to continue to circulate over obstructions and through pores in containers which hold it, subject only to its own inertia.
A superpressure balloon is style of balloon where the pressure of lifting gas changes as the balloon temperature changes due to the heating and cooling of the diurnal cycle. This is an alternative to the more common approach of allowing the gas volume to change in response to diurnal heating and cooling. However, a change in gas volume will necessarily produce a change in the buoyancy of the aircraft which will necessarily lead to a change in altitude.
Alan Turing was an English mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst and computer scientist. He was highly influential in the development of computer science, providing a formalization of the concept of the algorithm and computation with the Turing machine, which played a significant role in the creation of the modern computer.