Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Twinkle in Mother Earth’s Eye: Laser Blasts Produce Promising Fusion Advances

What if you could have a miniature star powering your house, your computer, and your car? How cool would that be! Stars produce a lot of energy, and they get that energy through a process called fusion. Thanks to recent research at the National Ignition Facility (NIF), we’re now one step closer to using fusion as a power source—unlocking a virtually infinite supply of clean energy.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Cleaner Cosmological Ruler Could Shed Light on Dark Energy

A 12-inch ruler isn’t much help when you’re trying to trying to measure the universe. To handle the enormous distances between planets, stars, galaxies, and groups of galaxies, astronomers have developed a whole set of measuring tools and units of measurement. In an upcoming issue of the American Physical Society’s journal Physical Review Letters, a team of scientists is proposing a pristine new tool that could help us unravel the nature of dark energy.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Fifth State of Matter May Defy the Second Law of Thermodynamics

Why does food stay solid in your freezer? Why does your tea cool down if you leave it out? Why is your dining room table a uniform temperature, instead of concentrating all its heat in a tiny corner?

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Black Holes, Galaxy Mergers, Quasars: A Quest to Understand the Ordinary

There are more than 100 billion galaxies in the universe, according to most estimates. Some estimates go as high as 2 trillion (a “2” followed by 12 zeros). Whether hundred billion or trillion, the fact is that there are a lot of galaxies. Most of us, on this tiny planet orbiting a random star in an average-sized galaxy, imagine black holes and galaxy collisions to be rare and exotic. They’re not.

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Friday, June 08, 2018

Questioning Assumptions: Have Binary Stars Been Tricking us into Overestimating the Age of Clusters?

For decades, astronomers have puzzled over the age of globular clusters, heavenly objects made up of hundreds of thousands of stars, living and dying together as they travel through their galaxies. They tend to shine red, indicating that their stars are ancient; in fact, their accepted age is somewhere between 10 and 14 billion years. This is only slightly younger than the Universe itself (13.7 billion years)—which begs the question, how could such complex objects form so soon after the Big Bang? Stars need time to form and drift together into clusters, and gravity works slowly at large scales.

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Thursday, June 07, 2018

This Next-gen Material Can Only be Made in Zero-G

It sounds crazy, but one company is trying it...and it looks like it's going to work.

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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Dig in to the Physics of Donuts for National Donut Day!

Before you ingest your annual delicious (possibly free) treat for Friday's annual celebration, why not learn about the physics of donuts? From topology to nuclear fusion, donuts are the physicist's breakfast pastry of choice. Not just because they’re tasty, but because their shape, the torus, is the subject of fascinating physics. Let's dig in to some of the multitude of donut sightings in physics, and answer the age-old question: Which rolls downhill faster, the holed donut or the filled doughnut?

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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Research Revisited: Knotted Hearts, Boson Stars, and Magnetic Particles

Sometimes, science news coverage can package research a little too neatly—with a clear beginning, middle, and end. In reality, research is a messy process with lots of back-and-forth, frustrations, and surprises. Scientists publish journal articles that highlight their results, but these are more like trail markers than final destinations. With this in mind, we’re introducing a new occasional feature on Physics Buzz, getting back in touch with scientists whose work we’ve profiled to see the twists and turns their research is taking.

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Friday, May 25, 2018

European Space Agency Sponsors "Graffiti Without Gravity" Contest

On a cold day in Holland last week, 12 of the top street artists in Europe took their places in front of a chain link fence. Each artist faced a 2x2-meter canvas, and the possibility of being the first street artist to experience zero gravity. Not actually in space, but the first to experience weightlessness on one of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) parabolic flights—and to create art in that environment.

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