COLUMBUS, Ohio —
While the data was amassing, suddenly there came a tapping,As of something gently rapping, rapping at LIGO’s door.
The source of a mysterious glitch in data from a gravitational wave detector has been unmasked: rap-tap-tapping ravens with a thirst for shaved ice. At the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or LIGO...
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A beefed-up missile defense system might seem like a good idea in a time of heightened nuclear tensions. But such enhancements could have dangerous consequences.
The current U.S. missile defense system isn’t all it was cracked up to be, performing unreliably in tests, physicist and missile defense expert Laura Grego argued April 14 at a meeting of the American Physical...
News in Brief
An ultraprecise new measurement has given some weird particle physics theories a black eye.
By measuring one of nature’s most fundamental constants more precisely than before, scientists have tested proposed tweaks to the standard model, the theory governing fundamental particles. The result, reported April 13 in Science, casts doubt on hypothetical particles called dark photons and...
News in Brief
The calculation of Mercury’s orbit is being tweaked — for a second time. And it’s all thanks to Albert Einstein.
Before the famous physicist came up with his theory of gravity, known as the general theory of relativity, scientists’ predictions for Mercury’s motions were slightly off: The planet’s orbit disagreed with expectations. When Einstein realized that general relativity accounted...
Emperor penguins are known to huddle for warmth, but their regal relatives prefer personal space.
Aerial photos of two king penguin breeding colonies show that individuals and couples keep their distance from neighbors but still stay together as a group. That arrangement resembles a simulated 2-D liquid in which molecules on a flat plane simultaneously attract and repel one another,...
The death of physicist Stephen Hawking on March 14 at age 76 sparked a global outpouring of admiration. In our appreciation, Science News physics writer Emily Conover calls him “a black hole whisperer who divined the secrets of the universe’s most inscrutable objects." He was also among the very few cosmologists (hello, Carl Sagan) to have written an international best seller; Hawking...04/05/2018 - 07:53 Science & Society, Physics
Stephen Hawking, a black hole whisperer who divined the secrets of the universe’s most inscrutable objects, left a legacy of cosmological puzzles sparked by his work, and inspired a generation of scientists who grew up reading his books.
Upon Hawking’s death on March 14 at age 76, his most famous discovery — that black holes aren’t entirely black, but emit faint...
Zeptonewton\ZEP-toe-new-ton\ n.03/23/2018 - 14:00 Physics
A unit of force equal to one billionth of a trillionth of a newton.
An itty-bitty object can be used to suss out teeny-weeny forces.
Scientists used an atom of the element ytterbium to sense an electromagnetic force smaller than 100 zeptonewtons, researchers report online March 23 in Science Advances. That’s less than 0.0000000000000000001 newtons —...
Meet STEVE, a newfound type of aurora that drapes the sky with a mauve ribbon and bedazzling green bling.
This feature of the northern lights, recently photographed and named by citizen scientists in Canada, now has a scientific explanation. The streak of color, which appears to the south of the main aurora, may be a visible version of a typically invisible process involving drifting...
News in Brief
The sex organs of primitive plants are inspiring precise pipettes.
Liverworts are a group of ground-hugging plants with male and female reproductive structures shaped like tiny palm trees. The female structures nab sperm-packed water droplets by surrounding them with their fronds, like an immobilized claw in an arcade machine.
Scientists have coopted that design to create a plastic...