50 Years Ago
New method to measure mass in space devised — A scale for measuring weight in space that does not depend upon the attraction of gravity has been devised.... In [William Thornton’s] method, the weight of the mass is determined [by] mechanically oscillating a weight in a tray. The heavier the mass, the slower the oscillation rate. The scale is tied to an electronic unit measuring the time...
Tenio Popmintchev, 39Laser physicistUniversity of Colorado Boulder09/21/2016 - 11:03 Physics, Technology
Experimental physics is not for the fainthearted. One tiny error — or a concatenation of many — can keep a complicated experiment from working smoothly. Fortunately, Tenio Popmintchev has the tenacity for it.
Popmintchev, a laser physicist at the JILA institute at the University of Colorado Boulder, thinks nothing...
Hillary Clinton’s “I believe in science” declaration aside, science has not played a starring role in the 2016 presidential election. Far from it. For the most part, the candidates’ science policies have trickled out in dribs and drabs, and in varying degrees of detail — talking points on a website here, a passing comment in response to a spur-of-the-moment question there.
Remarkably preserved bones of rat-sized creatures excavated in an Indian coal mine may come from close relatives of the first primatelike animals, researchers say.
A set of 25 arm, leg, ankle and foot fossils, dating to roughly 54.5 million years ago, raises India’s profile as a possible hotbed of early primate evolution, say evolutionary biologist Rachel Dunn of Des Moines University in...
A radio signal detected last year has sparked speculation that an advanced alien civilization is broadcasting from a relatively nearby planet. But recent scans have turned up nothing, suggesting the blip was a false alarm and nothing more than earthly interference.
In May 2015, astronomers detected a blast of radio waves coming from the direction of HD 164595, a sunlike star about 94...
In a few highly specialized laboratories, scientists bombard matter with the world’s most powerful electrical pulses or zap it with sophisticated lasers. Other labs squeeze heavy-duty diamonds together hard enough to crack them.
All this is in pursuit of a priceless metal. It’s not gold, silver or platinum. The scientists’ quarry is hydrogen in its most elusive of forms.
As the saying goes, “It’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.” The website Metaculus.com aims to make this challenging task easier by harnessing collective wisdom.
Metaculus solicits answers to questions about the future — on topics spanning science, politics and economics — and combines these predictions to infer the likely outcomes. Will 2016 be the hottest year...
Reviews & Previews
In the arms race of life, a number of animals use venom as a weapon to paralyze prey and jump-start digestion. Meanwhile, venom also helps a variety of other seemingly defenseless creatures improve their odds against larger, stronger or more aggressive foes.
In Venomous, molecular biologist Christie Wilcox surveys the animal kingdom’s wide array of biochemical warriors, from spiders and...
In some populations of birds, males may wonder why they can’t find a mate. It’s not that they’re unattractive or can’t sing the right song. It’s that females are in short supply.
This phenomenon is a common one in birds, particularly in threatened species and among populations that are small or fragmented. And scientists weren’t sure why this inequality crops up. Perhaps females are more...
News in Brief
BOSTON — You’ve heard the advice: For clean hands, scrub with soap and water for as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. But is hand sanitizer just squirt and go? Finally, there’s a scientific answer: To kill bacteria, rub for at least 15 to 30 seconds. After 45 seconds, you’re not doing much more good.
Proper hand hygiene is the most important means of infection control in...