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Showing posts from July, 2019

10 Science Podcasts You Should Listen to Right Now

It seems like there's a podcast for everything these days, and everyone (and their dog) is making a podcast. Whether you’re into beekeeping or bigfoot, there’s a pod out there for you. In the U.S., 33% of people report listening to a podcast in the past month; and 16 million Americans would call themselves an “avid podcast fan”. With all these shows and listening platforms around, it can be difficult to know where to turn. To help you find the best science podcasts for whatever you're into, we’ve collected a list of our staff picks. While the PhysicsCentral podcast is our personal, unbiased favorite (you can listen to all 110 episodes on SoundCloud ), these programs are nice too.

Inspired by Electric Eels, Scientists Create Wearable Underwater Generators

Its been over three years since my first triathlon, but I still cringe thinking about that initial dive into the water. See, I can’t really swim. If you were to watch a race between me and a housecat, I’d strongly suggest putting your money on the cat. In spite of my poor technique, I came out on the other side, as excited as one can be when they’re facing miles of biking and running ahead of them. When the race was finally over, my internal science-nerd monologue resumed, and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if all that kinetic energy I just used could be converted into electricity?” Unbeknownst to me, researchers at the Beijing Institute of Nanoenergy and Nanosystems were working on just that, and they’ve invented flexible underwater nanogenerators (Bionic Stretchable Nanogenerator, BSNG) that can harness electricity, as you swim.

Searching for Ultralight Dark Matter with a Supermassive Black Hole

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but very few are worth 5 million gigabytes. In April 2019 the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration, an international team of over 200 scientists, unveiled the first-ever picture of a black hole (or more specifically–the event horizon around it). Capturing an image of M87* was a supermassive accomplishment in astrophysics, but research in Physical Review Letters shows how it could  change our perceptions of dark matter .

The Science of Ice Cream, Redux

Even though it's been a warm couple of months already, it's officially summer. A delicious, science-filled way to beat the heat? Making homemade ice cream. (We wrote this article a few years ago, but since then we've learned a LOT about ice cream, so we're re-releasing this article, with expanded ice cream science and a wider range of dairy-free options. Enjoy!)

50 Moon Facts to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing

July 20th, 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, a small step for man, but a giant leap for humankind. In the past 50 years we’ve learned so much more about our planetary satellite neighbor, and to celebrate this anniversary, we’re sharing some OUT OF THIS WORLD facts about the moon:   1. Our moon is the 5th largest moon in the Solar System 2. The moon is not part of Mars.  3. The moon used to be part of the Earth, until a Mars-sized planetesimal hit our planet, sending a cloud of hot rock into space that eventually cooled, consolidated, and turned into our moon .  Image Credit: Joe Tucciarone (via NASA) 4. Earth’s tilted axis is likely a result of this collision.  5. Katherine Johnson , one of only a few black “human computers” employed by NASA for 33 years, calculated the Apollo 11’s trajectory to the moon and many other missions involving human space travel. Image Credit: NASA 6. The moon used to look much, much bigger, because it was c

Self-Propelling Particles May Hold Clue to Life

Ramin Golestanian, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, occupies himself with the big questions: How is the thing we call life possible? In particular, he wonders, how can complex subcellular structures so critical for life as we know it form from a soup of enzymes? “This is basically the Lego-like ingredients [of life],” he says, referring to the fundamental nature of these structures.

Listening to the Sounds of the Sun

You could say that Tim Larson, Seth Shafer, and Elaine diFalco were brought together by the Sun. Now the three of them are sharing the sounds of the Sun with scientists, musicians, and the general public through a unique effort called the Sonification of Solar Harmonics (SoSH) Project.

LGBT STEM Day: Acknowledging the scientists in science

It’s okay to be who you are. Friday, June 5th, 2019 was the 2nd International LGBT STEM Day*, an observance designed to celebrate the contributions that LGBTQ+ people have made in STEM, and raise awareness of the issues that LGBTQ+ scientists still face in their daily life. While not always visible, LGBTQ+ scientists have existed throughout history, from the inventor of the computer Alan Turing, to astronaut Sally Ride. While significant progress has been made towards equality, significant barriers remain. To conclude pride month and celebrate the second annual LGBT STEM Day, we spoke with LGBTQ+ scientists to highlight the personal experiences of LGBTQ+ people in STEM, put a spotlight on the issues that scientists still face today, and share resources for the benefit of the LGBTQ+ community and allies. This information was gathered through social media, e-mails, phone interviews, and in-person conversations with scientists from a variety of career stages and professio

Science of: Slurpees, or Sugary Science

Nine million. That’s how many icy-cold, sugary-sweet Slurpees the convenience store 7-Eleven will give away to US customers today. The annual Free Slurpee Day tradition began in 2002, a brilliant marketing move that has made July 11th (7-11 in US notation) the store’s busiest day of the year. In honor of the brain-freezing drink, today we’re highlighting some of the science behind this treat. As the story goes, Slurpees are so named because of the slurping sound consumers make while eagerly sucking up the drink through a straw. But its name is surprisingly similar to the technical name for a mixture of water and ice crystals—ice slurry. So, let’s start there. Ice slurry, also known as slurry ice, is the subject of a lot of research. It comes up frequently in the context of refrigeration, forming the basis of energy efficient technologies found in grocery store meat displays and air conditioners. It also has medical applications. Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory develope

Nope, earthquakes in California won’t trigger eruptions at Yellowstone (and other debunked earthquake myths)

Road damage after the Ridgecrest earthquake. via California Geological Survey and USGS Especially if you live under a rock, you’ve likely heard of the series of earthquakes that have hit Southern California outside the town of Ridgecrest this past week. So far no deaths or major injuries have been reported, but magnitude 6.4 and 7.1 quakes have caused extensive damage. The quake was felt widespread , with residents as far away as Sacramento and Phoenix feeling the tremors. It's a fantastic example that our planet is dynamic, but a sobering reminder our infrastructure is not.

The Sands of Spacetime: Researchers investigate two of physics’ greatest problems

Each year, nearly one million visitors are left breathless by the sand dunes of Death Valley in California, stunning structures that curve gracefully, rippling upwards to an impossibly crisp ridge winding its way down the length of each dune. To a distant observer, they could be a single solid mass that morphs and grows imperceptibly over the course of time. To a physicist, though, they could be a model of spacetime itself.

Now you're (Nu)tell(a)ing me, there's a scientific way to make great crepes?

A modern French take on a classic tragedy: You see a beautiful crêpe in a restaurant, soft, thin, perhaps full of Nutella. You think to yourself “Oh! It shouldn’t be too hard to make this at home, what’s the worst that could happen?” You go to the store, pick out your ingredients, and set out to make those crêpes. The result? It's okay, but it's just not perfect.