A few days ago, I spotted a strange title on a physics paper, claiming to have produced negative mass. I gave it a read. No they didn’t, I thought to myself. I will not cover this interesting but esoteric cold atomic physics paper.
Conceptually, particle physics experiments are surprisingly simple. Smash a shitload of particles together, and look at what comes out. The results will either confirm whatever the business-as-usual theory is, or, if there’s a really crystal clear deviation from that theory, they might prove some new hypothesis about…
Nothing seems to sum up the universe’s descent into disordered chaos quite like shoes getting untied. Try as your shoes might to keep themselves together (unless you’re rocking velcro straps), inevitably their strings will come unravelled, causing you to trip and fall in some embarrassingly public setting.
Earlier today, NASA announced funding for 22 projects as part of its Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program. From a planet hopping laser-driven sail and a solar powered Venusian weather balloon to an autonomous rover on Pluto, the future of space exploration looks incredibly bright.
An old MRI machine took a several-week boat journey around the world last week. Scientists are going to gut it, replace the bed, and try to understand the secrets of the universe with it—because, why not?
Only a billion or so years after the universe formed, a galaxy far more massive than our own and a fraction of the size blazed into existence. Just half a billion years later—less than the amount of time it took life to emerge and evolve into humans on Earth—the galaxy was a dead disc, no longer forming stars.
You and me, we’re matter. Everyone you know is matter. Everything on Earth, spare a few particles, is matter. Most of the things in space are matter. But we don’t have convincing reasons why there should be so much more matter than antimatter. So where’s all the antimatter?
Most asteroids orbit the Sun in a counterclockwise fashion, but a newly-discovered object nicknamed Bee-Zed goes against the grain, spinning around the Solar System the opposite way. Not only that, it frequently ventures within Jupiter’s orbital space—putting it on a potential collision course with the gas giant and…
The past few years have been incredible for physics discoveries. Scientists spotted the Higgs boson, a particle they’d been hunting for almost 50 years, in 2012, and gravitational waves, which were theorized 100 years ago, in 2016. This year, they’re slated to take a picture of a black hole. So, thought some…
German scientists have constructed a powerful new light system that can focus energy equivalent to the radiation of 10,000 suns onto a single spot. Eventually, they hope, this “artificial sun” could be used to produce environmentally-friendly fuels.
The Milky Way isn’t just stars orbiting a black hole—it’s loaded with dust and debris, floating with reckless abandon in the space between solar systems. And like the stuff that accompanies wildfires or windy days in the desert, dust makes it hard to see. Think about that, bro... we’re just like, specks of dust.
Orbiting our dusty red neighbor are two puny potatoes, Phobos and Deimos. They look like they belong among the worst (but not the absolute worst) moons in the solar system, but their existence might tell a crazy story about Mars’ history.
Science doesn’t have all the answers. There are plenty of things it may never prove, like whether there’s a God. Or whether we’re living in a computer simulation, something proposed by Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom and others, and maybe your stoned friend Chad last week.
They say the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but for JUICE—a European Space Agency-led, Jupiter-bound probe scheduled to launch in 2022—the quickest route will involve a rather convoluted journey requiring four gravitational assists with three different planets.
Black holes may be one of the universe’s most bizarre phenomena. They’re literally divide-by-zeros in the sky, places where the mathematics of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity falls apart. These dense behemoths have such strong gravitational fields that time stops, and all futures point directly at the…
Since their discovery ten years ago, fast radio bursts have confounded astronomers. These intergalactic pulses of radio energy have defied explanation, but a new theory suggests a technological origin, whereby aliens use these beams to propel their ships through space. Extremely speculative stuff, to be sure, but it’s…
The effects of the most esoteric physics abound throughout your life. Take quantum mechanics, the theory that describes how tiny things behave. It’s everywhere! How else would you get so much data on a palm-sized terabyte hard drive?
It’s a rainy day, so you stick out your tongue to catch a sip of nature’s hydration. As the misty air hits your taste buds, millions of tiny soil bacteria suddenly cry out in terror, and are suddenly silenced.
My first question was, “What is a time crystal?” Harvard graduate students Soonwon Choi, Joonhee Choi and postdoctoral researcher Renate Landig all started laughing. “That’s a very good question,” said Soonwon. The time crystal’s silly science fiction name shrouds its deep quantum mechanical nuance. Sometimes a name…
You might flee from words like “quarks,” “relativity,” and “joule,” but you shouldn’t have to, and neither should a kid. A new children’s book from the folks at a few of our national labs will hopefully make the things particle physicists are talking about easier to digest.