Friday, September 28, 2018

As Above, So Below: Asteroid Motion on an Atomic Scale

Physics stories often highlight the strangeness of the quantum realm in comparison to our everyday world, the difference between what we experience and what happens at the nano-scale. Sometimes, though, you can gain more insight by focusing on the similarities between two situations than on their differences.

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Thursday, September 27, 2018

Fighting Ice With...Ice?

If you live in a part of the world with cold winters, you probably know the awful feeling that comes with an unexpectedly early frost or snow—one that covers your car in a layer of ice before you’ve pulled out your gloves and ice scraper for the season. The one that makes your fingers freeze in anticipation as you blast the defrost and pull out a credit card so that you can begin chipping away at the windshield.

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Monday, September 24, 2018

New Positron Accelerator Design Could Put Antimatter Beam Source on a Desktop

Giant "atom smashers" like CERN and SLAC are famous for their ability to accelerate matter to very nearly the speed of light. By slamming together particles like protons and electrons at extremely high speeds, physicists can gain a better understanding of their fundamental nature—and even uncover new particles, like the now-famous Higgs boson. Their wide range of applications and their place in the spotlight mean that an ever-increasing amount of effort is being devoted to making proton and electron accelerators cheaper and more accessible to scientists.


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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Simulating the Sun, Researchers Pinpoint a Fruit Fly's Neural Compass

When you think of fruit flies, many words likely come to mind: buzzing, hovering, annoying...but navigating probably isn’t one of them. As it turns out, these tiny insects are known to travel up to nine miles per evening in search of food. Since they often live in barren deserts, Dr. Ysabel Giraldo reasoned that they must have some way of keeping a straight course—there’s just no way they could survive otherwise. It’s been shown that without the presence of external cues, most insects and animals—humans included—tend to wander in circles, so Giraldo wanted to uncover the secret to the fruit fly’s navigation. “Even though there have been so many studies on Drosophila, surprisingly no one really knew much about how fruit flies navigate,” she says.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

"Fool's Gold" May Hold Value After All

Famous for raising hopes of riches beyond imagination—and then dashing them—the mineral pyrite is better known as fool’s gold. Its metallic yellow luster has fooled many over the years, with consequences that helped shape the modern world, along with the fortunes (and misfortunes) of individuals: According to one story, a fool got what he deserved by marrying a woman for the “hills of gold” on her land that—as you might have guessed—turned out to be hills of pyrite.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Scientists Reveal "Lensless" Camera

Cameras have come a long way since the days of photographers hiding under a cloak amidst a startling puff of smoke. At any camera store, you can find video cameras that can record underwater, devices that takes photographs with breathtaking clarity at incredible distances—or even ones that do both. However, regardless of how advanced they get, every digital camera currently in existence is constrained by one thing: the need for a focusing lens.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Numbers In the News: The Physics of a Flying Tesla

A few months ago, Elon Musk famously launched his own car into space on top of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket. It was an unprecedented stunt, and one that's unlikely ever to be repeated, but last week the world saw another Tesla launched skyward . . . this one didn't go nearly as well.


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Monday, September 10, 2018

The World’s Fastest-Spinning Object Could Lead to Quantum Insights

What's the world record look like for RPMs? One of the fastest-spinning objects in the world is a tiny, levitating dumbbell created by a team of American and Chinese researchers—a nanoscale rotor that can spin more than a sixty billion times in just one minute.

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