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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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Controversial "Cow" Explosion

It’s a supernova… It’s a tidal event… It’s a cow?

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

New Research Turns Tornado Models Upside Down

As we reflect on the best and worst things about 2018, here’s one reason many in the state of Oklahoma are grateful: no one was killed in a tornado last year.

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Monday, January 07, 2019

There's an Excessive Amount of Radioactivity in this Middle Eastern Water Supply—but is it Actually Dangerous?

People in Egypt's western desert are drinking groundwater with naturally high levels of radium, a radioactive element, according to research presented last month at the American Geophysical Union meeting in Washington. Experts disagree on the cancer-related health risks, but babies who rely on the most radioactive wells could get more than 100 times the maximum levels recommended by the World Health Organization for long-term exposure from drinking water, according to the researchers. Many communities across the Middle East and northern Africa are likely also using water with elevated levels of radiation.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Starlight and Pink Poo: Studying Penguins from Space

December is behind us, but there's still a lot icy-cold winter left in our part of the world. That means we’re surrounded by snowmen, sleds, and cute little images of penguins and polar bears. This season I’m seeing those penguins in a whole new light, thanks to research presented at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting last month.

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Friday, December 28, 2018

Hear the Roar of the Grid in the High Voltage Explosion that Lit Up NYC's Sky Last Night

The world is ending. The aliens are here. That's what some New York City residents thought last night when the sky over Queens lit up with a bizarre blue glow. For a few minutes, the eerie, flickering light was bright as day.

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Thursday, December 27, 2018

A New Model for How Wrinkled Organs Get Their Shapes

You might think wrinkles are only skin deep, but there’s a lot more to the topic than anti-aging cream and laundry. The brain is a wrinkly object for a reason, as are flames, fingerprints, raisins, elephants, and the ridges in your teeth. Understanding how and why wrinkles emerge in developing biological organs like the brain could inform treatments for conditions like lissencephaly (the absence of wrinkles in the cerebral cortex), and possibly even diseases like Alzheimer’s and macular degeneration.

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Monday, December 24, 2018

Ask a Physicist: Rudolph the Redshifted Reindeer

Visiting every house in the world in one night is a tough job, even when you don't count the difficulty of squeezing down a chimney after eating a few million Christmas cookies. Just from a logistics perspective, it's a nightmare: finding the most efficient route between a bunch of points on a map (the so-called "Traveling Salesman" problem) is such a notoriously difficult nut to crack that it seems we've got no shot at doing it efficiently without quantum computing.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Why (Almost) Everything on Earth is Solar-Powered

This week, Nathan from Europe wrote in:

I have a question about the theory that energy can neither be created nor destroyed.
If you have two waterfalls, and one has a turbine and the other doesn't, yet the water eventually hits the ground with the same volume and force on both, have you not created energy with the turbine?

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