News in Brief
A potential sign of dark matter is looking less convincing in the wake of a new analysis.
High-energy blips of radiation known as gamma rays seem to be streaming from the center of the Milky Way in excess. Some scientists have proposed that dark matter could be the cause of that overabundance. Particles of dark matter — an invisible and unidentified substance that makes up the bulk of...
Nuclear physicist Evangeline Downie hadn’t planned to study one of the thorniest puzzles of the proton.
But when opportunity knocked, Downie couldn’t say no. “It’s the proton,” she exclaims. The mysteries that still swirl around this jewel of the subatomic realm were too tantalizing to resist. The plentiful particles make up much of the visible matter in the universe. “We’re made of them...
Albert Einstein was a master of physics, but his talent in personal relationships was decidedly underdeveloped. A new 10-episode series, Genius, airing on the National Geographic Channel, focuses on the facets of Einstein’s life where he was anything but a virtuoso.
Genius is a dramatization, not a documentary. The series reveals the human side of the famously brainy...
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Blame physics — not kindergarten-level clumsiness — for perpetually untied shoelaces. The combined forces from legs swinging and feet pounding the pavement create a perfect lace-loosening storm, scientists report April 12 in Proceedings of the Royal Society A.
Mechanical engineer Oliver O'Reilly of the University of California, Berkeley was familiar with the...
Letters to the Editor
New normal04/05/2017 - 10:39 Mental Health, Animals, Physics
People who stay mentally healthy throughout life are exceptions to the rule, a small study suggests. Only 17 percent of study participants experienced no bouts of anxiety, depression or other mental ailments from late childhood to middle age, Bruce Bower reported in “Lasting mental health may be unusual” (SN: 3/4/17, p. 7).
Reader Lou Floyd found the article disturbing and the...
The Milky Way’s black hole may finally get its close-up.
Beginning on April 5, scientists with the Event Horizon Telescope will attempt to zoom in on a never-before-imaged realm: a black hole’s event horizon. That’s the boundary at which gravity’s pull becomes so strong that nothing can escape.
In the telescope’s cross hairs are two supermassive black holes, one at the center of...
News in Brief
NEW ORLEANS — The tiniest electronic gadgets have nothing on a new data-storage device. Each bit is encoded using the magnetic field of a single atom — making for extremely compact data storage, although researchers have stored only two bits of data so far.
“If you can make your bit smaller, you can store more information,” physicist Fabian Natterer of the École Polytechnique Fédérale...
Reviews & Previews
Where the River FlowsSean W. FlemingPrinceton Univ.$26.95
Spend an hour wandering along a river and you may wonder why the water rushing by chose this particular path over any other. While many nature writers might offer philosophical musings on the subject, Where the River Flows author Sean Fleming has physics on his side.
Physics isn’t the lens through which most people think...
NEW ORLEANS — Black holes and superfluids make for strange bedfellows: One is famous for being so dense that light can’t escape, and the other is a bizarre liquid that flows without friction. But new computer simulations confirm that superfluid helium follows an unusual rule known from black holes — one with mysterious significance for physics.
Scientists demonstrated that entropy, a...
Never underestimate the power of a little sunlight.
Light particles, or photons, emitted from the sun’s surface, could explain a long-standing solar mystery — why the sun’s outermost layers rotate more slowly than its core.
Because the sun isn’t a solid ball, regions at different depths or latitudes rotate at different rates. For decades, scientists have wondered why the outer 5...