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Showing posts from January, 2016

Podcast: Physics and the Smell of Snow

Can we smell a snowstorm before it begins? Anecdotally,  many people insist  that they can detect an impending snowfall, but what does the science say? On today’s podcast, we’re joined by olfactory scientist Pamela Dalton , a researcher at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, to explore the physics behind that crisp, snowy scent.

Didymium: The Unreal Element in Glassworking Glasses

Glasswork is an ancient technology—though it's perhaps more apt to describe it as an art—that's been subject to refining and improvement over countless generations. While you might not expect new developments to emerge very often in such an old field, technology has a way of surprising us with its potential for synergy.

Why is "C" the speed of light?

We get all sorts of questions in our "Ask a Physicist" inbox, (including a positively disheartening number from people who seem to think it's "Ask a Psychic") but one topic that consistently seems to spark people's imagination and curiosity is the speed of light. What defines it, and why can't anything go faster than that? What happens if we try? Thinking about these questions and trying to find their answers is fascinating and fun in its own right, but more importantly it gives us insight into the rules underlying our universe. Today, we'll dig into one of these questions and its enlightening (no pun intended) answer: Why is the speed of light in a vacuum ~300,000,000 meters per second? Why  c ?

Danes Innovate Nanoscale Laser Printer

Laser printing has taken a large step forward into the diminutive realm of nanotechnology with recognizable, albeit imperfect, reproductions of images so small that they could fit comfortably on the finest human hair.

Invisible Light Flashes Ignite “Nano-Fireworks”

As people around the world prepared for the excitement of New Years Eve and the fireworks that often accompany the stroke of midnight, fireworks of a different kind were taking place at a laboratory in Berlin.

Bugs Build Intricate Structures Without Thinking Big

Termites are tiny insects, but they are capable of moving tons of soil to build giant nests. Now scientists are discovering simple rules these insect architects might follow that could help explain how they build complex homes without a master plan.

The Physics of Bleach

In a recent viral video from YouTube user Crazy Russian Hacker, the eponymous hacker Taras Kul makes the bewildering decision to top off a glass of coca-cola with an (un)healthy helping of bleach. The effect is almost instantaneous, and visually striking enough to be surprising, as you can see starting at the 28 second mark in the video below.