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Snow in the Western U.S. is Rapidly Disappearing, Here’s Why that’s a Huge Problem

“The snow is melting into music” -John Muir’s Unpublished Journal (1938)

The ethereal melody of melting snow is certainly peaceful, but if the famed naturalist were alive to hear it right now, that music might sound faster than he remembered. Listening to that sound today, it doesn’t exactly give me the same chill vibes.
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How has nuclear power changed since Chernobyl?

Poignant and bleak, the critically acclaimed HBO series Chernobyl revisits a difficult chapter in history to tell an important story about the role of science in society. While portions of the plot and characters have been embellished for TV, its an exceptional portrayal of what can happen when a community ignores the signs of an impending disaster (i.e. climate change) and includes surprisingly accurate and accessible explanations of nuclear physics. 

On twitter, the show has also reignited an important discussion on nuclear power and its associated hazards. It is necessary to acknowledge that while some risks will always be there, nuclear power is actually safer than ever, and importantly, it could help curb our insatiable appetite for fossil fuels.

To learn more about this funky world of radioactive physics, we’re going to answer some questions about how our nuclear landscape has changed since 1986 (I’d say spoiler alert, but that’s not really applicable to historical events that hap…

Clarity from Chaos: How Climate Models Could Be Better than We Think

Chaos theory encompasses large swathes of mathematics and physics, but it was Edward Lorenz who immortalized it in popular culture. His now-famous 1972 presentation, which summarized his decade-long work in the field, focused on a single provocative question: Can the flap of a butterfly's wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas? Although he declined to definitively answer the question, his “butterfly effect” changed the way climatologists and meteorologists view causality in atmospheric science.

Researchers Image Current Flowing through DNA

“What’s it like to see something that no one has seen before?” I asked Tatiana Latychevskaia, a physicist at the University of Zurich.

“You’re always puzzled, trying to look for something similar,” she says. She explains that you talk to colleagues, search the literature, and think back to conference presentations… Usually, you don’t know in the moment that what you’re seeing is new. “Only later do you think that maybe this is something really being seen for the first time,” she tells me.

10 Science Podcasts You Should Listen to Right Now

It seems like there's a podcast for everything these days, and everyone (and their dog) is making a podcast. Whether you’re into beekeeping or bigfoot, there’s a pod out there for you. In the U.S., 33% of people report listening to a podcast in the past month; and 16 million Americans would call themselves an “avid podcast fan”.


With all these shows and listening platforms around, it can be difficult to know where to turn. To help you find the best science podcasts for whatever you're into, we’ve collected a list of our staff picks. While the PhysicsCentral podcast is our personal, unbiased favorite (you can listen to all 110 episodes on SoundCloud), these programs are nice too.

Inspired by Electric Eels, Scientists Create Wearable Underwater Generators

Its been over three years since my first triathlon, but I still cringe thinking about that initial dive into the water. See, I can’t really swim. If you were to watch a race between me and a housecat, I’d strongly suggest putting your money on the cat. In spite of my poor technique, I came out on the other side, as excited as one can be when they’re facing miles of biking and running ahead of them. When the race was finally over, my internal science-nerd monologue resumed, and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if all that kinetic energy I just used could be converted into electricity?”

Unbeknownst to me, researchers at the Beijing Institute of Nanoenergy and Nanosystems were working on just that, and they’ve invented flexible underwater nanogenerators (Bionic Stretchable Nanogenerator, BSNG) that can harness electricity, as you swim.

Searching for Ultralight Dark Matter with a Supermassive Black Hole

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but very few are worth 5 million gigabytes. In April 2019 the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration, an international team of over 200 scientists, unveiled the first-ever picture of a black hole (or more specifically–the event horizon around it). Capturing an image of M87* was a supermassive accomplishment in astrophysics, but research in Physical Review Letters shows how it could change our perceptions of dark matter.