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.”
A spacecraft that revealed details of the hidden tapestry of the infant cosmos has had its last hurrah.
Scientists have unveiled the final result from the European Space Agency’s Planck satellite, which observed the oldest light in the universe — the cosmic microwave background — from 2009 to 2013. During its mission, the spacecraft provided new details of the intricate patterns woven...
With the aid of a particle accelerator, scientists are bringing back ghosts from the past, revealing portraits hidden underneath the tarnished surface of two roughly 150-year-old silver photographic plates.
Researchers used an accelerator called a synchrotron to produce strong, but nondamaging beams of X-rays to scan the damaged photographs, called daguerreotypes, and map their chemical...
Next in speedy trains
Future trains, in [Hisanojo] Ozawa’s opinion, will all be powered by rockets and run over rollers instead of rails…. His next model will be equipped with three rocket engines and will aim for a speed of 1,180 kilometers an hour, or 0.996 Mach. — Science News, July 6, 1968.Update
A rocket-boosted model train from Ozawa, who designed aircraft for the...