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the pendulum and the eclipse

Fascinating article in this week's Economist on an apparent gravitational anomaly (first observed on a pendulum during a Solar eclipse):

“ASSUME nothing” is a good motto in science. Even the humble pendulum may spring a surprise on you. In 1954 Maurice Allais, a French economist who would go on to win, in 1988, the Nobel prize in his subject, decided to observe and record the movements of a pendulum over a period of 30 days. Coincidentally, one of his observations took place during a solar eclipse. When the moon passed in front of the sun, the pendulum unexpectedly started moving a bit faster than it should have done.

Since that first observation, the “Allais effect”, as it is now called, has confounded physicists. If the effect is real, it could indicate a hitherto unperceived flaw in General Relativity—the current explanation of how gravity works.

True or not true, it's still interesting. :) And here's a recent paper on the topic).

Categories: science
Posted by diego on August 20, 2004 at 3:47 PM

live from EuroFoo

I just realized that in the madness of the last few weeks I neglected to mention that I had been invited to EuroFoo. I got here yesterday evening after a ten-hour trip (there were no delays, but since it was bus+plane+train it was nearly inevitable that it would take a bit).

I spent some 24 hours in electronic isolation, between the trip and subsequent rest. It was good.

Now there are about 50 of us gathered in what I'd say is the restaurant of the hotel that (I heard this morning) we've basically taken over. The hardware/human ratio is something to behold. Powerbooks are the majority, or nearly so.

We should "officially" start any minute now. More in a bit.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 20, 2004 at 3:41 PM

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