A strand of spaghetti snaps easily, but an exotic substance known as nuclear pasta is an entirely different story.
Predicted to exist in ultradense dead stars called neutron stars, nuclear pasta may be the strongest material in the universe. Breaking the stuff requires 10 billion times the force needed to crack steel, for example, researchers report in a study accepted in Physical Review...
News in Brief
Save your breath: A new way to make bubbles requires only sound waves.
Scientists made the bubbles in levitated drops of liquid, held aloft with sound waves. Tweaking the sound waves caused the hovering drop to balloon into a bubble.
The team formed the bubbles using a variety of liquids, including water. Increasing the intensity of the sound made the liquid first buckle into a...
Superconductors are heating up, and a world record-holder may have just been dethroned.
Two studies report evidence of superconductivity — the transmission of electricity without resistance — at temperatures higher than seen before. The effect appears in compounds of lanthanum and hydrogen squeezed to extremely high pressures.
All known superconductors must be chilled to function,...
Letters to the Editor
Sunny-side up09/06/2018 - 06:15 Astronomy, Physics, Earth
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is on its way to “touch” the sun. Maria Temming reported on the mission before the August 12 launch in “NASA’s Parker probe is about to get up close and personal with the sun” (SN: 7/21/18, p. 12).
Astronomy writer Lisa Grossman, who wrote a follow-up story, answered readers’ questions about the probe on Reddit.
Reddit user Gildolen...
We now have the most precise estimates for the strength of gravity yet.
Two experiments measuring the tiny gravitational attraction between objects in a lab have measured Newton’s gravitational constant, or Big G, with an uncertainty of only about 0.00116 percent. Until now, the smallest margin of uncertainty for any G measurement has been 0.00137 percent.
The new set of G values,...
Here’s good news for anyone who’s had to sweep up pasta shards after snapping dry spaghetti and thought, “there’s got to be a better way.”
Simply bending a stick of spaghetti in half typically shatters it into three or more fragments. That’s because when the stick breaks, vibrations wrack the remaining halves, causing smaller pieces to splinter off (SN: 11/12/05, p. 315...
Like a scouting handbook for the molecular realm, a new chart reveals how to tie molecules up in knots of increasing complexity.
Mathematicians have cataloged billions of distinct knot types, but researchers have been able to make only a few molecular versions. Scientists craft the minuscule knots using a solution filled with building blocks of curved strings of atoms, which glom onto...
Curiouser and curiouser: Strange metals are getting a little stranger.
Normal metals such as copper and aluminum are old hat — physicists have a strong grasp on the behavior of the electrons within. But strange metals behave in mysterious ways, and researchers have now uncovered an additional oddity. A type of strange metal called a cuprate behaves unexpectedly when inside a strong...
A single star, careening around the monster black hole in the center of the Milky Way, has provided astronomers with new proof that Albert Einstein was right about gravity.
More than 100 years ago, Einstein’s general theory of relativity revealed that gravity is the result of matter curving the fabric of spacetime (SN: 10/17/15, p. 16). Now, in a paper published July 26 in Astronomy...
Letters to the Editor
Hacking it07/25/2018 - 07:15 Technology, Physics, Genetics
Fleets of autonomous taxis coordinated by an algorithm could curb traffic congestion and vehicle pollution, Maria Temming reported in “Fleets of self-driving taxis could be choreographed to cut traffic” (SN: 6/23/18, p. 5).
“And what happens when the system gets hacked?” asked online reader RME76048. “Sounds like a primo target for an ambitious hacker.”