Weird science facts, December 1-December 7

Here are the Twitter #weirdscifacts for December 1st through December 7th!

263. Dec 01: While developing the bubble chamber c. 1950, physicist Donald Glaser tested early prototypes filled with beer. Bubble chambers are used in high-energy physics to detect and trace the paths of subatomic particles.  They consist of a chamber of superheated liquid; this liquid forms bubbles when particles pass, allowing their tracks to be photographed.  If a magnetic field is applied to the system, the curved trajectories of the particles can be used to deduce their charges and momentum, as well.  Glaser needed a liquid with low surface tension to make this work, however, and beer was one option he tried.  “His experiments with beer left nothing but a stench in the room and raised a few eyebrows, he said. Instead, he filled the tubes with diethyl ether.”

264. Dec 02: Posted another #weirdscifacts for the day, but the arsenic bacteria deserve to be on the list! (@edyong209‘s post) The results are being disputed, however, so it will probably take some time before we know if this fact will stick!

264a. In 1966, physicist Luis Alvarez performed a photo analysis of the Kennedy assassination, improving on the FBI analysis. Alvarez became intrigued by the case after seeing photos of the assassination in LIFE magazine, and decided to investigate what could be learned from the film.

265. Dec 03: Alexander Graham Bell devised a metal detector to find the 2nd bullet that hit assassination target James Garfield in 1881. (Bell’s device failed to find the bullet, and instead detected the metal bed springs.)

266. Dec 04: Nightmare fodder: the goliath bird-eating spider.

267. Dec 05: Louis Slotin, and the horrifying criticality accident that killed him in 1946. Slotin was guiding an experiment in nuclear chain reactions when the slip of a screwdriver let two pieces of material come together to form a critical mass.  Slotin slapped away a piece, stopping the reaction, but he received a fatal dose of radiation in the process, dying 9 days later.

268. Dec 06: The singing sands! (This is an earlier post by @JenLucPiquant that I saved for a later fact!)

269. Dec 07: A popular mathematical puzzle goes back at least as far as ancient Egypt. (h/t @anthinpractice)

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