Monday, March 25, 2019

Antimatter Cosmic Rays Shine a Light on Mysteries of the Universe

Nobel Laureate Samuel Ting laughed when I asked where all of the high energy electrons that hit his particle detector were coming from. “The data has just been published three days ago,” he told me, hinting at the depth of the mystery and the virtue of patience. “The most important thing is that none of our results can be explained by current models.”

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Friday, March 22, 2019

Do Rocks Contain Traces of Dark Matter?

For the past two decades, scientists have constructed a variety of experiments, including cryogenic detectors and tanks of liquid xenon, around the world in hopes of spotting the scantest signs of elusive dark matter particles. But time and time again, they've come up empty-handed. Now a team of scientists propose a completely different approach.

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Machine Vision: How a Simple Hardware Hack Could Replace Thousands of Lines of Code

In an increasingly digital world, it’s small wonder that we’re constantly searching for ever-more-sophisticated ways to interact with photographs and images: designers scan a 3D prototype and import its dimensions into a computer; medical programs image an internal organ and delineate the tumor to be removed; robots avoid drop-offs by recognizing the shapes that stairs make on their detectors; teenagers transform their selfies into what appears to be a pencil sketch.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

New Simulation Suggests We've Been Underestimating the Strength of Asteroids

The size of a small city, the target asteroid is imposing. The cracks and craters on its surface reflect years of wear in the extreme and dangerous environment of deep space.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Artificial Intelligence Helps Hunt Down Superconductors

Finding the next miracle material can be a tedious process. Thomas Edison and his fellow researchers famously tested thousands of materials before finding the right one for making lightbulb filaments. The search for superconductors, and in particular materials that can sustain superconductivity up to room temperature, is perhaps a modern-day equivalent.

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Monday, March 11, 2019

How a Space Telescope's Accidental Discovery Overturned Everything we Thought we Knew About Lightning Storms

The GRAPES-3 muon telescope in Ooty, India was designed to study the cosmos—events that took place millions of years ago at distances that confound the human imagination. What researchers didn’t expect was that it would also shed light not just on cosmic history, but on a mystery much closer to home: the massive power hidden in a thundercloud.

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Meet LANER: the "Network" Laser

It seemed like a simple idea: shine a laser through a complex network of optical fibers and see what pathway(s) the beam of light preferred. But once he got started, Giovanni Giacomelli realized that his project had opened the way to something much bigger—something that would eventually lead him to revisit the handful of laser designs currently in existence.

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Friday, February 22, 2019

"Transparent Wood" Could Build the Greenhouses of the Future

Inspired by a technique first developed by botanists during the 1990s, materials scientists in the past few years have been making an almost oxymoronic-sounding material: transparent wood. While the biologists, who were studying the structure of wood, needed only small pieces, materials scientists have proposed applications like load-bearing windows and have focused on scaling up the technique.

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Thursday, February 21, 2019

WATCH: Waves in Liquid Metal Form Entrancing Patterns, Offer Hints on Quantum Theory

Cymatics. If you know the word, it conjures images of hypnotic geometries, shapes of sand that shift and rearrange into ever-more-elaborate configurations, while a humming sound in the background rises in pitch to become a whine, and then a high, warbling tone.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

"Structural Paints" Could Create Brilliant Colors That Never Fade

Have you ever taken a moment to admire the brilliant blue of a bluebird’s feathers or the vibrant green of a beetle’s wings and wondered why you can’t buy that color in a paint can? Nature has long since perfected a kind of coloration that we humans still struggle with—but it may just be a matter of time before it decorates your living room.

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