How Nanoscale Optics Create Nature's Most Dazzling Colors

What do a butterfly's shimmering wings, a fish's opalescent scales, and a peacock's brilliant feathers have in common? Yes, their colors are beautifully iridescent. But they are also produced by the physical interaction of light with sophisticated nanoscale architecture that we are only just beginning to understand. » 2/19/15 2:00pm 2/19/15 2:00pm

What Will the Future of Molecular Manufacturing Really Be Like?

Molecular machines are nano-scale assemblers that construct themselves and their surroundings into ever more complex structures. Sometimes dubbed "nanotech" in the media, these devices are promising — but also widely misunderstood. Here's what separates the science fact from science fiction. » 2/16/15 7:00am 2/16/15 7:00am

Here's Why Small Black Holes Are More Dangerous Than Big Ones

If you were going to travel close to a black hole in order to study it, which type should you choose? Most people would probably pick a smaller black hole, because it seems easier to avoid. But that's a fatal mistake. Small black holes can be far more dangerous than big ones, due to a terrifying process called… » 1/27/15 3:15pm 1/27/15 3:15pm

How small is an atom, really? (or how to make your head explode)

Kurzgesagt has a neat new explainer: "How small is an atom?" I watched it. It does a great job at giving you an idea of how small atoms are and how they work. But it doesn't matter, because my brain just plainly refuses to believe any of this. Hulk head hurt. Hulk smash atoms. Oops, Hulk make nuclear detonation. » 1/21/15 10:03pm 1/21/15 10:03pm

The Real Story Behind the 1914 Christmas Truce in World War I

It was 100 years ago this very night that something miraculous happened along the Western Front. After months of bitter fighting, soldiers on both sides gathered in no-man's-land in a spontaneous show of peace and goodwill. Here's what happened on that historic day — and why it marked the end of an era. » 12/25/14 8:34am 12/25/14 8:34am

A must-watch 4-minute explainer of the entire Tolkien universe

J. R. R. Tolkien's posthumous The Silmarillion describes the universe where The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings take place. It has all the secrets of Middle Earth, from individual characters to the genesis of wizards, elves, orcs, or men. This must-watch short explainer reveals its crucial elements in four minutes. » 12/17/14 8:20pm 12/17/14 8:20pm

All we know about neutron stars explained in one simple video

Neutron stars. They are so strange that we can barely wrap our heads around the idea of their existence. In fact, we still don't really know most things about them, so we can only guess and wonder trying to explain their extreme properties. This video explains all we know—or suppose—about them. » 9/08/14 6:03am 9/08/14 6:03am

Why AMD And Nvidia Are Fighting

AMD and Nvidia are at it again. The two reigning champs in the market for video game graphics have been fighting since late last month when some performance issues on the PC version of Watch Dogs kicked up a fresh controversy. And given that AMD is still talking about the issue publicly, it doesn't look like things… » 6/25/14 3:00pm 6/25/14 3:00pm

YouTube's Copyright Crackdown: Everything You Need To Know

We're in the second week of a YouTube copyright enforcement crackdown whose most visible effects have been on the video gaming community. Each day turns up a new example of a video getting thrown in YouTube jail on a ridiculous technicality. The situation seems to defy common sense, but we'll try to explain it in… » 12/19/13 1:11pm 12/19/13 1:11pm

Photography's Three Basic Tenets in Eight Bits and Nine Minutes

Making the jump from point-and-shoots to an SLR can be a daunting proposition but this 8-bit explainer from Light and Matter should help. It covers the three most fundamental elements of exposure—aperture, shutter speed, and ISO—clearly and succinctly, giving even complete photography newbies *raises hand* a quick… » 5/01/12 1:00am 5/01/12 1:00am