Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Instruments of Wonder: As one observatory prepares to make history, another seeks to preserve it.

About two weeks ago, in the coastal town of Redondo Beach, California, engineers at the headquarters of Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems unpacked one heck of a box. Transported via the Space Telescope Transporter for Air Road and Sea, the contents were unwrapped with extreme caution by workers sporting cleanroom bunny suits. Inside were intricate pieces of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)—the space-bound observatory expected to revolutionize our understanding of the universe over the next decade.

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Monday, March 19, 2018

Physics society releases 55 previously paywalled Stephen Hawking papers

As long as his ideas continue to spread and inspire people, Hawking's mind will live on.

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Want to Win? What physics has to say about teamwork

Even Michael Jordan needed teammates. Makeshift stands selling Bulls merchandise inhabited every corner of Chicagoland after “Air Jordan” led his team to their third straight championship in 1993—and all the stands were busy. People were caught up in the excitement and inspiration of watching Jordan, Pippen, Armstrong, Grant, and their teammates take on the world.

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Friday, March 09, 2018

Edible Electronics? Lasers are Bringing "Super Material" Graphene to Everyday Surfaces

This may be the only photo you’ve ever seen of researchers proudly displaying a university-branded potato and coconut.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Quick Physics Fix: Why Metal Feels Colder

I want you to try something: Find an object nearby that's made of metal, and something else made of wood or plastic. Put a hand on each. Which one is colder?

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Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Fighting Fire with Physics

On average, about 8 million acres of land burns each year from wildfires. Big fires can reduce forests and grasslands to ash and can destroy homes and lives. Sadly, up to 90 percent of wildland fires in the United States are caused by humans’ carelessness, like unattended campfires, burning trash or waste, tossed-out cigarettes, and arson. The remaining 10 percent are usually started by lightning. Controlling and fighting fires isn’t easy. But knowing the science behind a burning blaze helps firefighters tackle the heat and flames to help save property, land and lives.

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Thursday, March 01, 2018

A Step toward Computing at the Speed of Light

Researchers have come up with a blueprint for a small and tunable device that can control the flow of light. Because it’s much tinier than existing technology, the invention could help shrink optical equipment to the nanoscale, and even enable superfast computers that run on photons instead of electrons. The results will be published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

What Happens Beyond "Absolute Hot"?

Can temperature drop below absolute zero? What happens then? Does it pop out at the other end of the thermometer like Pac-Man and become infinitely hot? Well, kind of, and the seemingly wacky concept is actually surprisingly common in physics.

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Friday, February 23, 2018

The Joy of Physics: Kitchen Mysteries

As regular readers of the site know, we try to take time each week to answer an interesting or informative question that lands in our "Ask a Physicist" inbox. Part of the reason why we do this is to make sure that we're addressing your urgent questions and wild what-ifs, but it's also to demonstrate the amazing things you can do with physics. It's almost a superpower, a kind of "second sight" that lets us understand things that would otherwise be frustrating puzzles.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Suddenly Springtime: the Nonlinearity of Seasons

Why does a change in the seasons always seem to creep up on us? Winter has a way of seeming like it'll never end, like every day closer to springtime brings only another minute of sunlight—and then, nearly all at once, you're enjoying a sunset at 7 PM in nothing more than a light jacket.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Just What IS a "Quantum"?

Quantum is one of those words that's a godsend if you're a lazy science-fiction author in need of a plot device, or someone trying to scam people into buying your crappy, overpriced jewelry. It evokes scientific knowledge and mystery all at once; it lets things be in two places at the same time, or jump to alternate universes.

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