Explaining Particle Accelerators With a Vacuum and 1,000 Foam Balls

If you know what a "Time Projection Chamber" or "Proton Synchrotron Booster" is, you're probably a physicist. And if you can explain them to non-physicists, you're a hero. This complicated glass model attempts to make understanding particle physics a little bit easier—with the help of a vacuum cleaner and 500 feet of… » 7/07/14 4:20pm 7/07/14 4:20pm

The Aloof Blackjack Player Who Created Our Digital World

Every digital device you use operates on a string of ones and zeroes, the binary "yes/no" decision at the foundation of modern computing. It's a concept so fundamental to our modern day that we rarely stop to wonder where it came from. But it's all the work of one man: Claude Shannon, whose fascinating story you've… » 6/28/14 8:00pm 6/28/14 8:00pm

If Einstein Had Never Been Born, Would We Still Have Nuclear Weapons?

Albert Einstein and his equation E=mc² are famously connected to the modern atomic age. But as nuclear historian Alex Wellerstein writes in this counterfactual account of history, the great physicist mattered less than you'd think in the invention of the nuclear bomb. » 6/28/14 9:00am 6/28/14 9:00am

Why the Moon Looks Bigger on the Horizon

This is a question that has been debated for several thousand years. One popular myth, dating all the way back to Aristotle in the 4th century BC and which still endures somewhat today, is that it is simply a case of magnification caused by the Earth's atmosphere. While a "magnification" effect is taking place, it… » 6/27/14 5:45am 6/27/14 5:45am

How Scientists Will Look Inside Fukushima's Radioactive Cores

The inside of Fukushima's three busted reactor cores are a big mess. It's basically just hundreds of tons of very, very, very radioactive materials like uranium, plutonium, and cesium. Workers want to clean it up, but they have a problem. It's so dangerous, they can't peek inside, much less go inside. » 6/18/14 1:00pm 6/18/14 1:00pm

How Atomic Bombs Help Unmask Counterfeit Wine

As long as rich men are willing to pay exorbitant amounts for old, fermented juice, there will be schemers willing to dupe them out of their money. But if you're dropping a cool half million on four bottles of wine supposedly owned by Thomas Jefferson (true story), you want to make sure you have the real thing, right?… » 6/06/14 5:00pm 6/06/14 5:00pm

Cadmium Arsenide: A 3D Alternative to Graphene That's Way More Useful

There's no denying that graphene is a wonderful material—strong, flexible, and highly conductive—but it's taking a long time to become a commercial reality. Now, scientists working with a material called cadmium arsenide believe it offers many of the same benefits—but could actually be far easier to use in the real… » 6/04/14 5:07am 6/04/14 5:07am

Scientists think there may be a wormhole in the center of our galaxy

If Zilong Li and Cosimo Bambi of the Fudan University in Shanghai are correct, what we thought was a massive blackhole in the center of our galaxy could be a wormhole that would allow instantaneous travel between two points in space and time. In fact, it may be the gateway to a different universe. » 5/28/14 7:18pm 5/28/14 7:18pm

Bizarre Soviet-Era Theory About New State of Matter Is Actually Right

Here's your dose of mind-bending physics for the day. In 1970, a young Soviet physicist named Vitaly Efimov proposed a trio of ultracold particles could arrange themselves in an "infinite nesting-doll configuration." Scientists have now published compelling evidence that this state of matter, once dismissed by… » 5/27/14 6:40pm 5/27/14 6:40pm