Thursday, February 14, 2019

Astronomers Spot a Pudgy Dragon in the Orion Nebula

Since ancient times, people gazing up at the night sky have seen animals, gods and goddesses, and other entities in the patterns of stars. Now scientists, using modern technology to peer heavenward, have spotted a new celestial object: a somewhat pudgy dragon lurking in the clouds of the Orion Nebula. The dragon's fat shape holds clues about how stars form—and how the process stops.


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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Scientists Use Mathematical Modeling to Fight Encroaching Deserts

The Gobi Desert in Asia is the fastest growing desert in the world. Aided by deforestation and overgrazing, the desert devours more than 2,000 square miles of grassland each year. The expansion causes food scarcity, unemployment, migration, and massive dust storms. Wherever the desert spreads, it devastates the local economy, threatens political stability, and endangers public health.

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Monday, February 11, 2019

What the Physics of Phase Transitions Can Teach us About Deadly Stampedes and Crushing Crowds

After the polar vortex that recently plunged much of North America into subzero temperatures, examples of stunning phase transitions abound. Videos of boiling water condensing into snow and supercooled water instantly crystalizing swept the internet alongside my personal favorite: bubbles freezing before your eyes.

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Thursday, February 07, 2019

Two Phases, Two Faces: "Janus Oscillators" Undergo Explosive Synchronization

What do algae, grandfather clocks and a two-faced Roman god have in common? On the face of it, not much—but they all play a part in a recent paper out of Northwestern University.

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Monday, February 04, 2019

More Precise Data Can Lead to Worse Decisions, Study Shows

Key political, business, and personal decisions are regularly made on the basis of data and, increasingly, big data. In general, that’s a good thing—intuition is often a less reliable guide. But, as shown by new research published in the American Physical Society’s journal Physical Review Physics Education Research, interpreting data is a tricky skill to master.

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Monday, January 28, 2019

Particle Accelerator X-Ray Blasts Help Create Ultra-Slo-Mo 3D Videos

Researchers have come up with a new technique to take 3D X-ray images and even slow-motion movies. The new method could help uncover the internal structure of tiny things, such as viruses and proteins, and shed light on processes that occur at super high speeds, such as the deformation of materials during high speed collisions. The results are reported in a recent paper in the journal Optica.

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Thursday, January 24, 2019

Scientists May Have Solved the Mystery of "Rogue Waves"

For centuries, sailors have returned to land with tales of being swept up in 100-ft swells, enormous waves appearing from an apparently calm ocean to terrorize even the most stalwart crew members, before sinking into nothingness just as suddenly as they appeared. The mariners who claim to have seen such “rogue waves” were few and far between—but it’s also not the sort of event that vessels can withstand, and there have always been ships lost at sea but never accounted for.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Using Just a Digital Camera, a New Method Lets Scientists See Around Corners

Shadows aren’t usually credited with bringing things to light. They're more often associated with clandestine meetings and dark corners, at least in spy movies. In contrast, new research published today in the journal Nature describes a technique developed by researchers at Boston University that uses shadows to reveal things otherwise hidden from view.

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Friday, January 18, 2019

To Measure Gravity, Scientists Drop Individual Atoms

Since interferometry was developed in the 19th century, physics has not been the same. The technique, which relies on manipulating a wave’s path, has been used to measure everything from the speed of light to gravitational waves with remarkable precision. Now, physicists are applying it to an entirely different type of problem: determining the acceleration that matter experiences thanks to the gravitational pull of the Earth.

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