Watching helium gas lift balloons into the air is a lot of fun – or perhaps a tragedy if that balloon belonged to a small child who let it go. And, who hasn’t sipped the helium gas from a balloon and then quacked like Donald Duck? Although, that’s not the smartest thing to do since helium can displace the air in our lungs, or cause other problems with respiration.
Despite decades of ongoing research, scientists are trying to understand how the four fundamental forces of the Universe fit together. Whereas quantum mechanics can explain how three of these forces things work together on the smallest of scales (electromagnetism, weak and strong nuclear forces), General Relativity explains how things behaves on the largest of scales (i.e. gravity). In this respect, gravity remains the holdout.
When I was at elementary school, my teacher told me that matter exists in three possible states: solid, liquid and gas. She neglected to mention plasma, a special kind of electrified gas that’s a state unto itself. We rarely encounter natural plasma, unless we’re lucky enough to see the Northern lights, or if we look at the Sun through a special filter, or if we poke our head out the window during a lightning storm, as I liked to do when I was a kid. Yet plasma, for all its scarcity in our daily lives, makes up more than 99 per cent of the observable matter in the Universe (that is, if we discount dark matter).
From tunnelling through impenetrable barriers to being in two places at the same time, the quantum world of atoms and particles is famously bizarre. Yet the strange properties of quantum mechanics are not mathematical quirks – they are real effects that have been seen in laboratories over and over.
Studies prove almost unanimously that the universe is, indeed, expanding. However, different measurements of the rate by which it expands consistently yield different results. Could this mean we need new physics to understand what's going on?
Everyone’s favorite wonder-material has moved beyond the boundaries of gravity in its latest round of testing. The material was brought aboard a parabolic flight, where a plane alternated climbing and diving in a regular rhythm to simulate micro-gravity for brief intervals of about 23 seconds at a time. These flights are often affectionately referred to as the “vomit comet,” as they tend to inspire some queasiness in humans. The graphene aboard, however, endured the environment and performed well.
Infrastructure supports and facilitates our daily lives – think of the roads we drive on, the bridges and tunnels that help transport people and freight, the office buildings where we work and the dams that provide the water we drink. But it’s no secret that American infrastructure is aging and in desperate need of rehabilitation.
What if you could run your air conditioner not on conventional electricity, but on the sun’s heat during a warm summer’s day? With advancements in thermoelectric technology, this sustainable solution might one day become a reality.
Physicists have demonstrated accelerating light beams on flat surfaces, where acceleration has caused the beams to follow curved trajectories. However, a new experiment has pushed the boundaries of what’s possible to demonstrate in a lab. For the first time in an expeirment, physicists have demonstrated an accelerating light beam in curved space. Instead of traveling along a geodesic trajectory (the shortest path on a curved surface) it bends away from this trajectory due to the acceleration.
The science and tech world has been abuzz about quantum computers for years, but the devices are not yet affecting our daily lives. Quantum systems could seamlessly encrypt data, help us make sense of the huge amount of data we’ve already collected, and solve complex problems that even the most powerful supercomputers cannot – such as medical diagnostics and weather prediction.
Everything dies. To many, this seems to be the one absolute truth to the universe: Plants and animals rot and decay, stars explode and grow dark, planets crumble or are burned, and even black holes may radiate away. Indeed, our very atoms, which are the same atoms that make up everything else in the universe, decay into lighter elements as time marches on.
Overcoming a series of setbacks, an international project to build what could be a revolutionary nuclear fusion reactor, which will produce renewable energy, has reached a major milestone. Half of the infrastructure required for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project has now been completed — seven years after construction officially began in 2010.
Researchers have discovered how to identify smartphones by examining just one photo taken by the device.The advancement opens the possibility of using smartphones—instead of FaceID or other biometrics—as a form of identification to deter cybercrime.
One of the underlying principles of quantum theory is that quantum objects can exist as waves or particles. But, they do not exist as either until they are measured, making it seemingly unachievable to identify or track quantum objects when they’re not being observed. But recently, physicists faced this issue and proved that it is not an impossibility to track unobserved quantum particles.
The soaring value of bitcoin is encouraging more and more companies and individuals to engage in “mining”. Mining is actually a process which secures the distributed bitcoin network, and processes all of its transactions.
The media tends to depict bullet-proof armor as something that’s thick and heavier than regular clothes. Despite being for bodily protection, the added bulk of that armor might restrict a person’s movements. But scientists at the City University of New York’s Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC) have found that diamond-hard armor doesn’t need to be thick. The key to less-bulky protection is graphene, a tightly-packed layer of bonded carbon atoms one million times thinner than a piece of paper.
Despite many varied and valiant attempts, fusion energy has remained out of reach. One new technique uses hydrogen-boron reactions to theoretically achieve fusion in a way that produces no radioactive waste.
Forget about today’s modest incremental advances in artificial intelligence, such as the increasing abilities of cars to drive themselves. Waiting in the wings might be a groundbreaking development: a machine that is aware of itself and its surroundings, and that could take in and process massive amounts of data in real time. It could be sent on dangerous missions, into space or combat. In addition to driving people around, it might be able to cook, clean, do laundry – and even keep humans company when other people aren’t nearby