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E.g., 12/10/2018
E.g., 12/10/2018
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  • News in Brief

    A satellite screw-up reaffirms Einstein’s theory of gravity

    An orbital oopsie has led to new proof of Albert Einstein’s physics prowess.

    In 2014, two satellites intended for Europe’s Galileo network, the equivalent of the United States’ GPS network, were placed into orbit incorrectly, causing them to travel around Earth in ellipses rather than circles. That wasn’t ideal for the satellites’ originally intended navigational use, but scientists...

    12/10/2018 - 06:00 Physics
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers inquire about a Neptune-sized moon, nuclear pasta and more

    Exomoonmoon

    A sighting by the Hubble Space Telescope provides more evidence that there’s a Neptune-sized moon, dubbed Neptmoon, orbiting the exoplanet Kepler 1625b, Lisa Grossman reported in “Hubble may have spotted the first known exomoon” (SN: 10/27/18, p. 14).

    “If Neptmoon actually exists, could it possibly have moons of its own?” online reader MAdScientist72 asked. “And what...

    12/05/2018 - 05:00 Physics, Astronomy, Animals
  • News

    Scientists’ collection of gravitational waves just got a lot bigger

    Astronomers have now tallied up more gravitational wave sightings than they can count on their fingers.  

    Scientists with the LIGO and Virgo gravitational wave observatories report four new sets of these ripples in spacetime. Those additions bring the total count to 11, the researchers say in a study published December 3 at arXiv.org, marking major progress since the first gravitational...

    12/04/2018 - 13:19 Physics, Astronomy
  • News

    A new airplane uses charged molecules, not propellers or turbines, to fly

    A newly designed airplane prototype does away with noisy propellers and turbines.

    Instead, it’s powered by ionic wind: charged molecules, or ions, flowing in one direction and pushing the plane in the other. That setup makes the aircraft nearly silent. Such stealth planes could be useful for monitoring environmental conditions or capturing aerial imagery without disturbing natural...

    11/21/2018 - 13:00 Technology, Physics
  • News

    It’s official: We’re redefining the kilogram

    Out with the old — kilogram, that is.

    Scientists will soon ditch a specialized hunk of metal that defines the mass of a kilogram. Oddly enough, every measurement of mass made anywhere on Earth is tied back to this one cylindrical object. Known as “Le Grand K,” the cylinder, cast in 1879, is kept carefully sequestered in a secure, controlled environment outside Paris.

    On November 16...

    11/16/2018 - 07:22 Numbers, Physics
  • Letters to the Editor

    Questions about toxic red tides, and more reader feedback

    Hot stuff

    A new material that converts sunlight into heat could someday melt ice off airplane wings, wind turbines and rooftops, Maria Temming reported in “A new material harnesses light to deice surfaces” (SN: 9/29/18, p. 17).

    “What happens when the object (such as an airplane wing) to which the material has been applied is subjected to the sun on a hot summer day?” asked online...

    11/04/2018 - 06:00 Materials, Health, Physics
  • News

    A new measurement bolsters the case for a (slightly) smaller proton

    A scientific tug-of-war is underway over the size of the proton. Scientists can’t agree on how big the subatomic particle is, but a new measurement has just issued a forceful yank in favor of a smaller proton.

    By studying how electrons scatter off of protons, scientists with the PRad experiment at Jefferson Laboratory in Newport News, Va., sized up the proton’s radius at a measly 0.83...

    11/02/2018 - 11:41 Physics
  • News

    Vanadium dioxide’s weird phase transition just got weirder

    For the first time, researchers have gotten a detailed view of how atoms in a compound called vanadium dioxide move when an ultrafast laser pulse transforms the material from an electrical insulator to a conductor — and it’s nothing like scientists expected.

    Rather than switching from one crystal formation to another in a direct, synchronized manner, like choreographed ballerinas, the...

    11/01/2018 - 14:00 Physics, Materials, Technology
  • News in Brief

    Three gas clouds nearly grazed the edge of the Milky Way’s black hole

    As far as close shaves with a black hole go, it doesn’t get much closer than this.

    Scientists have spotted clouds of gas hurtling around the monster black hole at the center of the Milky Way, not far from the behemoth’s edge. Observed on three separate occasions, the gas clouds careened along at unimaginably fast speeds — 30 percent of the speed of light, researchers report October 31 in...

    10/31/2018 - 14:18 Astronomy, Physics
  • News in Brief

    This cloud-zapping laser could help scientists create a quantum internet

    On an overcast day, ultrafast lasers could clear a path through the clouds, allowing easier contact with satellites traveling high above Earth.

    Currently, cloudy weather limits scientists’ ability to send data to satellites via lasers, because the clouds scatter the lasers’ light. But a powerful, fast-pulsing laser can zap a tiny, cloud-free channel, allowing a second laser to slip...

    10/23/2018 - 12:12 Physics