Letters to the Editor
Pesky pesticides05/30/2018 - 07:00 Science & Society, Physics, Animals
Researchers are tracking tiny insects to learn how animals move around the planet, Alexandra Witze reported in “Flying insects tell tales of long-distance migrations” (SN: 4/14/18, p. 22).
“There are several uncritical references to using pesticides to combat insect pests” in the story, reader Christina Gullion wrote.
Gullion noted that pesticides can be...
Somewhere in the wetlands of South Carolina, a buzzing fly alights on a rosy-pink surface. As the fly explores the strange scenery, it unknowingly brushes a small hair sticking up like a slender sword. Strolling along, the fly accidentally grazes another hair. Suddenly, the pink surface closes in from both sides, snapping shut like a pair of ravenous jaws. The blur of movement lasts only a...
A genie in a bottle might grant you a wish, but neutrons trapped in a bottle aren’t so accommodating.
Outside of an atomic nucleus, the neutral particles eventually decay into other particles. But scientists aren’t sure exactly how long neutrons stick around for before their demise: Two types of neutron lifetime measurements disagree. One type of estimate, made with a beam of neutrons,...
Astronomers are going gaga over Gaia.
The April 25 release of data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft, which cataloged nearly 1.7 billion stars, has kicked off a scientific spree, with multiple papers published online in the last two weeks at arXiv.org.
Charting stars in the Milky Way and beyond, Gaia surveys the entire sky. The spacecraft can measure stars’ motions...
You would be forgiven for thinking that real numbers are, in fact, real — the word is right there in the name. But physicist Nicolas Gisin doesn’t think so.
He’s not questioning the mathematical concept of a real number. The term refers to a number that isn’t imaginary: It has no factor of i, the square root of negative one. Instead, Gisin, of the University of Geneva, debates the...
News in Brief
It was only a matter of time.
A weird form of matter called a time crystal has made an appearance in two more types of materials, doubling the number of known time crystal habitats. In a typical crystal, its arrangement of atoms regularly repeats in space, such as the alternating sodium and chloride ions that make up a salt crystal. But time crystals’ patterns repeat themselves at...
For some neutron stars, the quickest way to cool off isn’t with a frosty beverage, but with lightweight, subatomic particles called neutrinos.
Scientists have spotted the first solid evidence that some neutron stars, the collapsed remnants of exploded stars, can rapidly cool their cores by emitting neutrinos. The result adds to evidence that scientists are gathering to understand the...
A DIY universe mimics the physics of the infant cosmos, a team of physicists reports. The researchers hope to use their homemade cosmic analog to help explain the first instants of the universe’s 13.8-billion-year life.
For their stand-in, the scientists created a Bose-Einstein condensate — a state of matter in which atoms are chilled until they all take on the same quantum state. Shaped...
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...