Physics

Nuclear science first penetrated American consciousness with the building of the atomic bomb. It has become both a beneficial and destructive force that influences many aspects of human life from energy, to the environment, to medicine. Yet this field of study —that peers into the atomic nuclei — is something people generally don’t teach or
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By: Hannah Pell On March 7, 1995, Gary Mansfield, a health physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, sent out an email to members of the RadSafe nuclear safety mailing list. The subject line read: “Banana Equivalent Dose.” “Some time ago (when I almost had time to do such things), I calculated the [radiation] dose
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By Allison Kubo Hutchison Parke Radio Telescope detected unnatural signals from the region around Proxima Centauri on April 29 2019. Photo by Stephen West. Scientists at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) have detected a narrow band of radio signals coming from a narrow area around Proxima Centauri, our nearest neighbor star at 4.2465 light-years
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By: Hannah Pell  With instantaneous communication and access to far more information than any of us could ever know or need, it’s important that there are people we trust to clearly explain the messiness of the world around us. The COVID-19 pandemic has especially demonstrated the challenges of disseminating complex scientific research to the general
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By Allison Kubo Hutchison Elevation map of the Jezero Crater, landing site of the Perseverance Rover. NASA/Tim Goudge Located on the Northwest side of Isidis Basin, Jezero Crater’s lay undisturbed except for dust storms and meteorite impacts for countless eons. Jezero Crater is an uneven half-circle where the Northeast side is worn away. There are
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By Allison Kubo Hutchison You are enjoying a sunny beach day, showing off a new swimsuit. You take a dip in the water, you feel something brush your foot. You look down and it’s a trilobite. Your first panicked thought: Do trilobites bite? Other than the fact that trilobite went extinct 252 million years ago,
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By: Hannah Pell Being homebound during winter often means higher electricity bills for those of us north of the Sun Belt. And for many currently working remotely or attending school virtually, there may be added strain on top (although hopefully not to the same extent as the Griswold family’s infamous holiday lights). When so many
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Kilauea summit lava lake at a depth of 515 ft (156 m) taken 8 a.m. Dec. 23. USGS photo by H. Dietterich By Allison Kubo Hutchison On December 20, 2020, at about 9:30 PM, Halema’uma’u Crater, the traditional home of the goddess Pele, hosted the first eruption of the Kilauea volcano since going silent in
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By Cristian Cernov and Tatiana Erukhimova With support from the American Physics Society, we started Real Physics Live. Since then, our 14 person team composed of Texas A&M undergrads, grads, and one faculty member has produced over 20 high-quality videos, which you can view at our website: realphysicslive.com   Needless to say, Real Physics Live
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By: Hannah Pell Many of us have been spending a lot of time on our own lately. It can be difficult to feel like we’re accomplishing all that much individually — especially when social media is always there to remind you of how productive your friends and colleagues have been during quarantine. I long for
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By: Hannah Pell Nuclear power is an important aspect of our diverse energy infrastructure. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, nuclear power plants produced 19.6% of the total electricity generated in the U.S. in 2019. Over the last several years, however, there has been a decline in the number of operating nuclear power plants.
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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
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As someone whose job it is to help people understand and appreciate physics, I absolutely hate the way most people talk about Isaac Newton and how he developed his theory of gravity. It’s not the apple bit that I have a problem with; that’s an important part of the story, and even historically accurate! The thing
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Tin is a commonplace metal that’s used industrially in a thousand different ways. From the solder that holds your computer’s motherboard together to the PVC plumbing under your sink, tin compounds are everywhere. In spite of its versatility, tin possesses an interesting physical property which is responsible for its tendency to wear down over time
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By Lindsay Olson Scientific Adviser:  Dr. Don Lincoln Curator: Georgia Schwender  As Fermilab’s first artist in residence, my workspace had some unusual supplies for an artist’s studio. Pinned to my idea board I had a list of subatomic particles, quotes from popular physics books, the names of inspiring physicists, and a picture of Nobel Laureate
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It’s a typical December scenario: The family trip to the tree lot. The Fraser Fir tied to the roof of the car. Dad under the branches screwing the stand to the trunk. And the inevitable wobbling of the 7-foot holiday embellishment as it threatens to topple over and onto the floor, scattering needles everywhere. When
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By: Hannah Pell In the 2004 movie National Treasure, the main character Ben Gates — a historian, cryptographer, and treasure hunter played by Nicholas Cage — is determined to solve the generational mystery passed down to him from his grandfather. The only clue that Ben has is: The secret lies with Charlotte. Based on this,
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Like much of the world, scientists thrive on coffee. It’s not just because of the caffeine though, it turns out that even spilled coffee fuels research. Most people are annoyed by nagging coffee stains, but to physicist Sidney Nagel they were inspiration. If you’re a coffee lover (or you live with one), I guarantee that
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They sniff out drugs, cadavers, missing people, explosives, and even cancer. Dogs are more than man’s best friend, they are some of the best chemical detectors in existence. They are so good that by modifying a commercially available explosives detector to act like a dog’s nose, researchers were able to make the detector much more
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The fastest timescales. The highest pressures. Absolute zero. The nanoscale. These conditions are far from our everyday experience, but studying how things behave in different situations can reveal a more complete picture of their nature—and can lead to revolutionary breakthroughs. Click to enlarge. This false-color map of a random light field includes a large number
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Researchers from MIT have come up with a new way to fabricate nanoscale structures using an innovative “shrinking” technique. The new method uses equipment many laboratories already have and is relatively straightforward, so it could make nanoscale fabrication more accessible. Image Credit: Illustration by Abigail Malate, American Institute of Physics Conventional nanostructure manufacturing techniques—ones that
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Sugar. A variant on the sweetest ingredient in many a sumptuous holiday feast, glycolaldehyde has now been found in a star-forming region of space far from the galactic center called G31.41+0.31, about 26,00 light years away from Earth. Directly linked to the origin of life, glycolaldehyde is an advantageous find for researchers seeking out habitable
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Wild Turkey / Image Credit: Andrea Westmoreland via Flickr There are 60-foot high balloons floating above packed city blocks, cranberries on the stove, inside-the-turkey stuffing, mashed potatoes, outside-the-turkey stuffing, football, abominably huge turkeys, and one lucky bird. The best part of Thanksgiving dinner? Leftover Thanksgiving dinner. But those leftovers take hard work– that hot, perfect,
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Who hasn’t wished the doctor would prescribe a week of vacation or a trip to Walt Disney World to cure an ailment? For patients with kidney stones, that might be just around the corner. According to research published in 2016 in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, a trip to your local amusement park might
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By: Hannah Pell Two years ago on November 16th, 2018, representatives from more than 60 member nations of the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (International Bureau of Weights and Measures) convened in Versailles, France to make a very important decision. Representatives in attendance to the 26th General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) unanimously
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Just outside the town of Oracle, Arizona, nestled between the seemingly endless plains of the Sonaran desert and the cactus-pocked foothills of Mount Lemmon, stands an enormous glass ziggurat: Biosphere 2. Built in the late ‘80s at the behest of an oil tycoon, the structure was intended to be a small-scale model of a self-contained
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Artistic representation of OSIRIS-REx over the asteroid Bennu. NASA/GODDARD/University of Arizona. In 2016, the OSIRIS-REx probe left Earth but unlike most other probes on their journey out to space, OSIRIS-REx does intend to return home. If all goes well, OSIRIS-REx will return to its home in 2023 carrying a precious sample. As of 2018, OSIRIS-REx
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By: Hannah Pell It’s nationwide election time yet again. As of October 30th, more than 85 million Americans have already cast their ballot, a remarkable number considering total voter turnout for the 2016 election was 138 million. By the time you’re reading this, we may or may not yet know the winners, especially given the
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By Allison Kubo Hutchsion  Although humans first witnessed nuclear reactors in 1942 with the development of the Chicago-Pile by Enrico Fermi, natural fission reactors existed billions of years ago. Fission is the process of breaking apart atoms of heavy elements such as uranium. Energy is released during fission in the form of heat and can
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NASA image of a dust storm from 1998. Provided by the SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE – NASA Visible Earth, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=402743 By Jeremiah O’Mahony The Canary Islands spent a few days of March 2018 shrouded in Saharan dust. Calimas, two-to three-day-long gusts of sand and warm wind named for the haze they
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By: Hannah Pell On September 22, 2020, NASA and the U. S. Space Command announced that they were tracking an unidentified piece of space debris that appeared to be hurtling toward the International Space Station (ISS). It was predicted to pass by within only a few kilometers, dangerously too close to chance, at 5:21 p.m.
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By: Hannah Pell On 23 January 2020, the Doomsday Clock was calibrated to 100 seconds before midnight — the closest it has even been — by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the organization in charge of the clock. Because the Doomsday Clock is set no sooner than annually, this decision was made even before
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Originally written for https://www.tamiawilliams.com/blog  - TamiaWilliams  Image: 5 Year Old Drip (Bobo hair ties, Clear skin & Sunday’s best), 2001  This is my mom’s favorite picture of me as a child. On the back, it’s dated Oct/Nov 2001 – Tamia – 5yrs old. I have no recollection of this day, when the picture was taken
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 What makes skin so tough? Originally published: May 4 2015 – 11:45am, Inside Science News Service By: Lisa Marie Potter, Contributor (Inside Science) — Skin has to be flexible enough to jump, crawl, and kick with us. It also has to be resilient enough to withstand our falls, scrapes, and cuts. Scientists have marveled at skin’s strength for
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By Allison Kubo Hutchison  Comparison of Earth, the Moon, and Ceres. Image by Gregory Revera NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA. Ceres is the largest body in the asteroid belt. It represents the history of our solar system as a protoplanet, a planetary embryo which formed 4.56 billion years ago. Earth itself is made of the agglomeration of several planetary
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By: Hannah Pell On September 20th, 2019 — one year ago today as I write this — the infamous Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear power plant was permanently shut down. TMI Unit-2 has been shuttered since the partial meltdown in 1979, an event described as the “most serious accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant
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At sports venues designed to maximize crowd atmosphere, beware of hearing loss. Originally published: Apr 14 2014 – 2:45pm, Inside Science News Service By: Brian Owens, ISNS Contributor (ISNS) — The roar of the crowd is a major part of the excitement of attending a sporting event. A noisy, engaged crowd makes for a better experience for fans,
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By Hannah Pell Alice and Bob are recurring characters in science. They can usually be found chatting over the phone or playing games of chance with each other, such as poker or flipping coins. But no matter Alice’s and Bob’s thought-experiment scenario, there is always some sort of a communication problem at the core of
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