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Showing posts from July, 2018

Becoming the Noise: A Visit to One of the Quietest Places on Earth

Scratchy . My ultra-smooth gel pen made a distracting and mildly irritating sound that I can only describe as scratchy with each stroke. I became acutely aware of the process involved in forming each letter. I flipped a page in my memo pad to make room for more notes, but the loud, prolonged crinkling of the page only left me more distracted and further behind.

Liquid Droplets May Help Unravel the Secrets of Quantum Mechanics

Strange as it may sound, bouncing liquid droplets are changing our ideas of what happens at subatomic levels. By studying their movement across pools of liquid, Prof. John Bush from MIT is discovering how these droplets can help us understand the tiny particles that make up everything in our universe . But how can small droplets tell us about what’s going on at microscopic levels of matter? Don’t tiny, quantum particles act differently than anything in classical mechanics? Maybe not.

Simple, Inexpensive Magnetic Levitation: The Flight of the Humble “Flea”

From flying broomsticks to floating cities and container-less storage, levitation has a tendency to capture the imagination. Among the impractical and impossible ideas, there are some good ones that have already taken hold. Maglev trains now carry passengers in Japan, South Korea, and China, and have been proposed in countries across the world. Fun (but less useful)  hoverboards operate on similar technology, as do magnetic bearings used in industrial machinery.

A Bright Future: Quantum Dots and the Quest for Energy Efficient White Lights

From stadium lights to night lights, the modern way of life runs on artificial illumination. This lighting is costly—in both environmental and economic terms—but last week in the journal Optica , a team of researchers from Koç University in Turkey introduced a new kind of white light source , based on blue LEDs and quantum dots, that could lower the costs of lighting up our world.

Scientists Identify Likely Source of High-Energy Cosmic Neutrinos

An international team of scientists has found compelling evidence that some the tiniest, most elusive particles we know about—neutrinos—are produced by one of the brightest, most energetic events in the universe. The key to this evidence? A single neutrino, detected by the IceCube Neutrino Observatory on September 22, 2017.

Watch: How Does a Dead Fish Swim Upstream?

Take a quick look at this trout swimming upstream. Notice anything unusual?

Big Bangs and Squibs: A Physicist Turns Pyrotechnician for the Day

Last week, I got to watch a great fireworks show from pretty close up—because I was part of the team that made it happen! By the end of the day, I had broken all of my nails, was covered in dirt from origins unknown, and had ash in my ears. It was awesome.

What Happens When You Plug a Wire into a Lightning Bolt? Electrical Instability Caught on Camera

“It’s easy to forget, looking at a lightbulb filament, that electricity is still untamed and dynamic,” says Trevor Hutchinson, a graduate student in the physics department at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR).