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Showing posts from February, 2019

Meet LANER: the "Network" Laser

It seemed like a simple idea: shine a laser through a complex network of optical fibers and see what pathway(s) the beam of light preferred. But once he got started, Giovanni Giacomelli realized that his project had opened the way to something much bigger—something that would eventually lead him to revisit the handful of laser designs currently in existence.

"Transparent Wood" Could Build the Greenhouses of the Future

Inspired by a technique first developed by botanists during the 1990s, materials scientists in the past few years have been making an almost oxymoronic-sounding material: transparent wood. While the biologists, who were studying the structure of wood, needed only small pieces, materials scientists have proposed applications like load-bearing windows and have focused on scaling up the technique.

WATCH: Waves in Liquid Metal Form Entrancing Patterns, Offer Hints on Quantum Theory

Cymatics. If you know the word, it conjures images of hypnotic geometries, shapes of sand that shift and rearrange into ever-more-elaborate configurations, while a humming sound in the background rises in pitch to become a whine, and then a high, warbling tone.

"Structural Paints" Could Create Brilliant Colors That Never Fade

Have you ever taken a moment to admire the brilliant blue of a bluebird’s feathers or the vibrant green of a beetle’s wings and wondered why you can’t buy that color in a paint can? Nature has long since perfected a kind of coloration that we humans still struggle with—but it may just be a matter of time before it decorates your living room.

Astronomers Spot a Pudgy Dragon in the Orion Nebula

Since ancient times, people gazing up at the night sky have seen animals, gods and goddesses, and other entities in the patterns of stars. Now scientists, using modern technology to peer heavenward, have spotted a new celestial object: a somewhat pudgy dragon lurking in the clouds of the Orion Nebula. The dragon's fat shape holds clues about how stars form—and how the process stops.

A New "Metamaterial Silencer" Creates Passive Noise Canceling, Without Blocking Airflow

How do you block sound without cutting off airflow? It’s a tricky question, but new work out of Boston University shows a promising advance.

Scientists Use Mathematical Modeling to Fight Encroaching Deserts

The Gobi Desert in Asia is the fastest growing desert in the world. Aided by deforestation and overgrazing, the desert devours more than 2,000 square miles of grassland each year. The expansion causes food scarcity, unemployment, migration, and massive dust storms. Wherever the desert spreads, it devastates the local economy, threatens political stability, and endangers public health.

What the Physics of Phase Transitions Can Teach us About Deadly Stampedes and Crushing Crowds

After the polar vortex that recently plunged much of North America into subzero temperatures, examples of stunning phase transitions abound. Videos of boiling water condensing into snow and supercooled water instantly crystalizing swept the internet alongside my personal favorite: bubbles freezing before your eyes.

Two Phases, Two Faces: "Janus Oscillators" Undergo Explosive Synchronization

What do algae, grandfather clocks and a two-faced Roman god have in common? On the face of it, not much—but they all play a part in a recent paper out of Northwestern University.

More Precise Data Can Lead to Worse Decisions, Study Shows

Key political, business, and personal decisions are regularly made on the basis of data and, increasingly, big data. In general, that’s a good thing—intuition is often a less reliable guide. But, as shown by new research published in the American Physical Society’s journal Physical Review Physics Education Research, interpreting data is a tricky skill to master.