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Showing posts from June, 2018

These "Microlasers" Turn Infrared into Laser Light, and May Play a Role in Next-Gen Medical Tech

The biggest, brightest lasers make for good headlines, but this isn’t a story about those. This is a story about lasers so tiny you need a microscope just to see them—lasers smaller than red blood cells. These tiny lasers could play an important role in next-generation medical care (among other technologies), and that makes them a big deal.

Oak Ridge Cuts the Ribbon on the World's Most Powerful Supercomputer

When you think of a scientist, do you imagine some lone figure, wreathed in a meticulous lab coat, furtively working late into the night, combining strange ingredients in a beaker or measuring something with a set of calipers? While it’s certainly true that many physicists engage in some sort of hands-on research, in the era of modern science that’s only half of the picture.

These Exotic Fish Use an Electric "Sixth Sense" to Communicate

Ghost knifefish use electricity as a sixth sense. Now scientists exploring tropical jungle streams have unearthed secrets regarding how these fish use electric signals to communicate in the wild. This work could shed light on how nervous systems in general process weak, ambiguous sensory data, which could help improve the design of bionic devices that interact with the nervous system.

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.

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 .

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?

A Japanese Spacecraft is Closing in on a Mineable Asteroid

Is humanity on its way to mining asteroids?

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.

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.

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.