The brand new space opera novel Lightless is a fast-paced, gripping read, and like all good science fiction, explores the human side of cutting-edge scientific concepts. We talked to debut author C.A. Higgins about using real physics in her story.
Pluto and Charon have captured our hearts and imaginations. But how did these adorably strange worlds form, and what consequences could that have on what we see now? Researcher Amy Barr Mlinar chatted with us about catastrophic collisions, subsurface oceans, and Pluto’s lack of craters.
New ideas about Pluto, Charon, and all the little moons have been flowing back from the New Horizons spacecraft fast and furious. If you’re curious but haven’t kept up, here’s everything we’ve learned so far.
You know what's absolutely impossible? A system going from chaos to order. You know what cells do? Turn a chaotic universe into organized, channeled motion, again and again and again. How can that be?
Perhaps you have heard that cold does not exist – that what we subjectively experience and describe as cold is, in fact, the absence of heat. But what does that mean, exactly? Joe Hanson explains this mind-bending concept in the latest episode of It's Okay To Be Smart.
Until NASA's Cold Lab comes online in 2016, the coldest place in the universe is a faint scattering of gas and dust 5,000 light years away in the Centaurus constellation. The Boomerang Nebula is just 1 degree above absolute zero, colder than the natural background temperature of space.
While it definitely lacks the low-budget charm of this nearly identical classroom presentation, this demonstration of liquid nitrogen's explosive potential does have two major things going for it. One: more ping pong balls. Two: A high-speed camera, for slowmo playback goodness.
Consider this your first class in ice wizardy 101.
We've all seen a cold beer can sweat in the summer heat. Now, a new scientific study reveals the surprising effect that layer of condensation has on the temperature of your beverage.
A provocative new paper is proposing that complex intelligent behavior may emerge from a fundamentally simple physical process. The theory offers novel prescriptions for how to build an AI — but it also explains how a world-dominating superintelligence might come about. We spoke to the lead author to learn more.
It's a truism of science that concepts and inventions are rarely attributed to the person who actually came up with them. Most concepts and inventions have several creators, from the Pythagorean theorem to the radio. But one particular concept — the first law of thermodynamics — has two creators who came up with it…
Come for the science, stay for the explosions. Watch Plymouth University professor Roy Lowry* demonstrate what happens when you try to contain liquid nitrogen while it's returning to its gaseous state. (The impatient among you can skip to 3:15.)
Werner Heisenberg's uncertainty principle tells us it's impossible to know simultaneously the location and the velocity of a subatomic particle. It's one of the main ideas that famously prompted Albert Einstein to declare God doesn't play dice with the universe.
Are finally we on the cusp of economically viable thermal batteries — devices to store and transmit heat? A perspective article published in this week's Science seems to think so, and it could mean a major change for the way we think about heating and cooling.
Steam engines run because of statistics — the particles in the machine have a predictable overall behavior, which drives the engine's piston up and down. But if you shrink the engine down to micrometer size, it'll contain far fewer particles, few enough that the behavior of each individual particle could potentially…
These nails start out perfectly arranged, the hardware store equivalent of a perfect crystalline structure. But as their bed begins to vibrate and they start moving around, they become increasingly disordered, actually imitating all the stages of a melting crystal.
The longer you use a computer, the hotter it will get. That seems like just an everyday fact of life, but it might actually be its own law of physics. And, like all phyiscal laws, quantum mechanics apparently violates it.
Ask scientists a question, and you might get amazing answers. Consider this video, which poses three head-scratchers: what happens to electrons at absolute zero, whatever happened to the light from the Big Bang, and are you any good at sports?
Heating generally expands a substance. Yet if you heat up rubber bands, they shrink — and when they're stretched they get hotter. What's going on?