« Introducing: The Triclinator | Home | Sleep Weirdnesses »

March 10, 2009

Diffraction, Caustics and Null Hypotheses

I came across two interesting things while chasing up some references for my thesis today.  The first is the research of Professor Sir Michael Berry, whose work lies in "the borderlands between physical theories - between classical and quantum, between rays and waves".  This includes things to do with rainbows, levitating spinning tops (remember a news article about a levitating frog a few years ago?), the finer points of laser pointers shining through bathroom glass, and the diffraction of atoms by light.  There's also a whole load of stuff that's relevant to my own research, which I'll need to take a much closer look at.

The other thing was JASNH, the Journal of Articles in Support of the Null Hypothesis.  This is a journal which provides a place for research to be published which did not demonstrate that observations of whatever phenomenon being investigated were significant to the usual level "required" for publication.  That means, it contains articles with titles such as "Playing video games does not make for better visual attention skills" and "False Recall Does Not Increase When Words are Presented in a Gender-Congruent Voice".  Possibly amusing, but with a very serious aim.

1 Comment

Hi Tom, Michael Berry's work is deeply enchanting and one cannot believe the rich pickings his analysis unearths. My favourite Berry paper has to be #106 (1982) "Wavelength-independent fringe spacing in rainbows from falling neutrons". Totally useless, difficult to experimentally verify but utterly intriguing (BTW I celebrated my 9th birthday when the paper was received).

Leave a comment