Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Promising Results in Offworld Fertility Experiments

To the best of anyone’s knowledge, no one has had sex in space.

Only one married couple have been on the same mission, the Americans Mark Lee and Jan Davis, and according to NASA, nothing happened. There being no privacy in the space shuttle or the International Space Station, that is likely true.

But with NASA exploring ideas such as two-year voyages to Mars and eventual colonies on Mars and the moon, the question of reproductive safety is important, especially if humans wish to one day travel to the edges of the solar system and even beyond. Can space voyagers conceive healthy human babies?

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Focusing Sound with Metasurfaces: A New Way to Reduce Noise and Power Devices?

Whether it’s the neighbor’s barking dogs, pounding rain, the din of traffic, or the music of your own choosing, most of us are constantly surrounded by noise. Noise is energy, so that means most of us are constantly surrounded by a relatively safe, renewable, and clean form of energy. What if we could harvest this energy?

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Probing Quantum Behavior in a Large-Scale System

Quantum mechanics, it seems, is where physics breaks from making intuitive sense. In the realm of the infinitesimal, particles can be in two places at once, or display the "spooky" properties of entanglement. But it might not have to be that way—a few months ago, the good folks over at Veritasium put out a fantastic video drawing attention to an amazing phenomenon that was only recently discovered: a macroscopic, intuitively friendly system that behaves almost exactly like a quantum-mechanical one. Now, scientists are building on this work, discovering new properties of this system and linking them to their quantum-mechanical counterparts.

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Gravity Caught Stretching Quantum Objects

Black holes and quantum mechanics are two of the most intriguing physics topics. Their strange and exotic features certainty capture the imagination. Now, new research in the American Physical Society’s journal Physical Review Letters brings aspects of the two together in an experiment that shows, for the first time, that gravity stretches and squeezes quantum objects through tidal forces.

A macroscopic quantum state explores curved spacetime.
Image Credit: Peter Asenbaum.

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Friday, May 05, 2017

Self-Folding Structures Inspired by Origami

From the elegant crane to playful flowers, the intricate shapes created with origami are delightful and often astounding. They are also a source of inspiration for scientists. In areas ranging from microelectronics to biomedicine, there is a need for small, complicated three-dimensional objects. Last week in the journal Science Advances, a team of scientists from Georgia Institute of Technology and Peking University shared their work on an origami-inspired technique for creating such structures.

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Monday, May 01, 2017

Using Radio to Detect the Gravitational Waves of Merging Black Holes

The detection of gravitational waves topped nearly every chart highlighting the most important science stories of 2016. LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, made headlines by detecting direct evidence of ripples in spacetime caused by two merging black holes. Historic and exciting, this discovery will probably be the first of many gravitational wave signals we see over the coming years—and not all of them will come from gravitational wave observatories.

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Building a Settlement on Mars, Brick-by-Brick

With NASA’s plan to send humans to Mars in the 2030s and SpaceX’s plan to send them as early as 2020, things are getting exciting. In just three years, the Mars 2020 astrobiology rover will blast off toward the red planet. While there, the rover will search for signs of life and gather information that will help protect the lives and missions of astronauts during future visits. The European Space Agency, in partnership with Roscosmos State Corporation, will launch the ExoMars rover in 2020 to undertake a similar mission. If SpaceX achieves its goal, humans could be visiting Mars at the same time as these rovers.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Photographers Discover New Pseudo-Aurora, Get to Name the Phenomenon...End Up Calling it "Steve".

A group of "Aurora Chasers" in Canada appear to have stumbled on an extraordinary new astrophysical phenomenon, and—in typical internet fashion—endowed it with an amusingly ordinary name. Don't let the unassuming moniker fool you, though: Steve is a mind-bogglingly powerful event, albeit one that is apparently more common than scientists expected.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Seeing Quadruple, Seeing the Universe More Clearly

An exploding star has astronomers seeing quadruple—and they couldn’t be happier. Today in the AAAS journal Science, an international team of researchers led by Ariel Goobar at Stockholm University presents unique images of a special type of stellar explosion, called a Type 1a supernova, that will offer important new insights into gravity, dark matter, and the acceleration of the universe.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

People Power: Getting a Feel for Joules & Watts

This week, we had a reader write in:

Why has no one developed a battery that can be attached to a recumbent bike to gather energy when someone is pedaling? Thousands of hours of manual work is being wasted (not counting the health benefits) 

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