26 March 2011

Fun with Physics Special Topics

I recently discovered the online journal Physics Special Topics (current issue, archives). These are essentially collections of student articles on various topics. Here is how the journal describes itself:

This is an undergraduate journal for year 4 (MPhys) students in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leicester. The journal accepts brief papers on topics original to the authors. It does not accept reviews or summaries of other peoples work. It is managed by an editorial board which rotates round the student body overseen by a member of staff. The journal forms part of the assessed element of the MPhys degree. Assessment is by number and quality of accepted publications and referee reports.

The students are writing serious article on a wide variety of topics, some of which are inspired by by games and science fiction. As science goes, these is not exactly cutting edge, but it sure is fun. Some of the articles that caught my eye are:

How Heroic is a Hero? An exploration of the probability distribution behind character creation in the D20 system.

Niven Rings looks at some of the physics of Larry Niven's Ringworld.

Can superhuman muscles stop bullets?  Ask the question, "Just how bulletproof is Superman, anyway?"

And much more.

This is perhaps slightly off the usual theme of this blog, but surely playing games and reading SciFi has raised a few of these questions in the minds of gamers - "Just how what that work, if we actually tried it?" - Like many things, the fun is in the finding out. 

If one of these articles catches your interest, please post about it below. Have fun!
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