Physics

Meet this year’s winners of the Dance Your PhD contest

Finnish researcher Jakub Kubecka won this year’s Dance Your PhD contest with a rap-based dance inspired by his work on the physics of atmospheric molecular clusters. The global pandemic ruined most of our plans for 2020, but it couldn’t keep graduate students around the world from setting their thesis research to dance, submitting videos produced …

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“Locked” for 300 years: Virtual unfolding has now revealed this letter’s secrets

</figure>In 1697, a man named Jacques Sennacque wrote a letter to his cousin, a French merchant named Pierre Le Pers, requesting a certified death certificate for another man named Daniel Le Pers (presumably also a relation). Sennacque sealed the letter with an intricate folding method known as “<a href=”http://letterlocking.org/about”>letterlocking</a>,” a type of physical cryptography—the better …

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Scientists create new class of “Turing patterns” in colonies of E. coli

Scientists have shown how a new class of Turing patterns work by using synthetic biology to create them from scratch in the lab. Shortly before his death, Alan Turing published a provocative paper outlining his theory for how complex, irregular patterns emerge in nature—his version of how the leopard got its spots. These so-called Turing …

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Two visionaries: Marie Curie forged a friendship with dancer Loïe Fuller

Enlarge / Radiant: The Scientist, the Dancer, and a Friendship Forged in Light explores the lives of Marie Curie and Loïe Fuller. Aurich Lawson / Getty Images Both the arts and the sciences flourished in Paris during the years of the so-called Belle Époque at the dawn of the 20th century. This was when Nobel Prize-winning physicist …

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Astronomers: A comet fragment, not an asteroid, killed off the dinosaurs

Harvard astronomers have a new theory about the origin of the comet that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. Some 66 million years ago, a catastrophic event occurred that wiped out three-quarters of all plant and animal species on Earth, most notably taking down the dinosaurs. An errant asteroid from the asteroid belt has been …

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A curious observer’s guide to quantum mechanics, pt. 5: Catching a wave

Enlarge Aurich Lawson / Getty Images <div class=”article-intro”><strong>One of the quietest revolutions</strong> of our current century has been the entry of quantum mechanics into our everyday technology. It used to be that quantum effects were confined to physics laboratories and delicate experiments. But modern technology increasingly relies on quantum mechanics for its basic operation, and …

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Remastered images reveal how far Alan Shepard hit a golf ball on the Moon

Enlarge / This image consists of six photographs taken from the Apollo 14 Lunar Module, enhanced and stitched into a single panorama to show the landing scene, along with the location from where Alan Shepard hit two golf balls. Both astronaut’s PLSS’ (life-support backpacks) can also be seen at left. NASA / JSC / ASU …

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A curious observer’s guide to quantum mechanics, pt. 4: Looking at the stars

Enlarge Aurich Lawson / Getty Images One of the quietest revolutions of our current century has been the entry of quantum mechanics into our everyday technology. It used to be that quantum effects were confined to physics laboratories and delicate experiments. But modern technology increasingly relies on quantum mechanics for its basic operation, and the …

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It’s the wombat’s strange intestines, not its anus, that produces cubed poo

Enlarge / Look at this lovely cube-shaped piece of poo, courtesy of the Australian bare-nosed wombat. Patricia J. Yang et al., 2021 Scientists have been puzzling for decades over how the Australian bare-nosed wombat poops out neat little cubes of feces instead of tapered cylinders like pretty much every other animal. According to a new paper …

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Unstable helium adds a limit on the ongoing saga of the proton’s size

Enlarge / The small particle accelerator in Switzerland where, surrounded by farms, the work took place. Paul Scherrer Institut Physicists, who dedicate their lives to studying the topic, don’t actually seem to like physics very much since they’re always hoping it’s broken. But we’ll have to forgive them; finding out that a bit of theory …

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