Strathclyde Student Community for Optics, Physics & Engineering

Journal Club 04/10/19

Hi everyone,

The next Journal Club will happen next Friday, 4th of October from 12pm -1pm in JA326. Our speaker will be Ben, who will present ‘Tumbling toast, Murphy’s Law and the fundamental constants’, which got the 1996 Ig Noble Prize for Physics. Looking forward to seeing many of you there! The abstract is as follows:

We investigate the dynamics of toast tumbling from a table to the floor. Popular opinion is that the final state is usually butter-side down, and constitutes prima facie evidence of Murphy’s Law (‘If it can go wrong, it will’). The orthodox view, in contrast, is that the phenomenon is essentially random, with a 50/50 split of possible outcomes. We show that toast does indeed have an inherent tendency to land butter-side down for a wide range of conditions. Furthermore, we show that this outcome is ultimately ascribable to the values of the fundamental constants. As such, this manifestation of Murphy’s Law appears to be an ineluctable feature of our universe.

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