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  • For Daily Use

    Here’s why your wheelie suitcase wobbles

    Anyone who’s dragged roller luggage knows it’s liable to fishtail. To most people, this is a nuisance. To a few scientists, it’s a physics problem. Researchers detail the precise interplay of forces that set suitcases shimmying in a study published online June 21 in Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

    The researchers simulated and observed the motion of a toy model suitcase on a...

    06/20/2017 - 19:05 Physics
  • Science Ticker

    Satellite trio will hunt gravitational waves from space

    The hunt for gravitational waves is moving upward. A space-based detector called the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, or LISA, was selected as a mission in the European Space Agency’s science program, the agency announced June 20.

    LISA will consist of three identical satellites arranged in a triangle that will cartwheel through space in orbit around the sun just behind Earth. The...

    06/20/2017 - 16:58 Astronomy, Cosmology, Physics
  • News

    Quantum satellite shatters entanglement record

    Particles of light born in space have connected two cities via a quantum link about 10 times longer than any created before.

    A quantum-communications satellite beamed photons to Earth, separating them by more than 1,200 kilometers. The feat showed that the particles of light can retain a strange type of interconnectedness, known as quantum entanglement, even when flung to opposite ends...

    06/15/2017 - 14:00 Quantum Physics
  • News

    Water circling a drain provides insight into black holes

    Water swirling down a drain has exposed an elusive phenomenon long believed to appear in black holes.

    Light waves scattering off a rotating black hole can bounce off with more energy than they came in with, by sapping some of the black hole’s rotational energy. But the effect, predicted in 1971 and known as rotational superradiance, is so weak that it would be extremely difficult to...

    06/12/2017 - 11:00 Physics
  • News

    Faux particles commit physics faux pas

    A weird new particle imitator flouts the established rules of particle physics. The discovery could help scientists simulate how particles behaved just after the Big Bang or lead to the development of new devices with unusual electromagnetic properties.

    The curious new phenomenon involves a particle-like entity called a quasiparticle, formed from a jostling mosh pit of electrons that...

    06/12/2017 - 03:00 Condensed Matter
  • News in Brief

    Swift kick from a supernova could knock a black hole askew

    Gravitational waves are providing new hints about how black holes get their kicks.

    The Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory’s detection of spacetime ripples from two merging black holes on December 26, 2015, indicated that one black hole was spinning like a tilted top as it orbited with its companion (SN: 7/9/16, p. 8). That off-kilter spin could mean that the...

    06/09/2017 - 14:37 Physics
  • News

    LIGO snags another set of gravitational waves

    For a third time, scientists have detected the infinitesimal reverberations of spacetime: gravitational waves.

    Two black holes stirred up the spacetime wiggles, orbiting one another and spiraling inward until they fused into one jumbo black hole with a mass about 49 times that of the sun. Ripples from that union, which took place about 3 billion light-years from Earth, zoomed across the...

    06/01/2017 - 11:00 Physics, Astronomy
  • Feature

    The opioid epidemic spurs a search for new, safer painkillers

    Last year, Joan Peay slipped on her garage steps and smashed her knee on the welcome mat. Peay, 77, is no stranger to pain. The Tennessee retiree has had 17 surgeries in the last 35 years — knee replacements, hip replacements, back surgery. She even survived a 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak that sickened her and hundreds of others, and killed 64. This knee injury, though, “hurt like the...

    05/30/2017 - 13:00 Health, Chemistry, Biomedicine
  • Mystery Solved

    Why you can hear and see meteors at the same time

    For centuries, skywatchers have reported seeing and simultaneously hearing meteors whizzing overhead, which doesn’t make sense given that light travels roughly 800,000 times as fast as sound. Now scientists say they have a potential explanation for the paradox.

    The sound waves aren’t coming from the meteor itself, atmospheric scientists Michael Kelley of Cornell University and Colin...

    05/30/2017 - 07:00 Planetary Science, Physics
  • News

    Quantum tractor beam could tug atoms, molecules

    The wavelike properties of quantum matter could lead to a scaled-down version of Star Trek technology. A new kind of tractor beam could use a beam of particles to reel in atoms or molecules, physicists propose in the May 5 Physical Review Letters.

    Scientists have previously created tractor beams using light or sound waves, which can pull small particles a few millimeters or centimeters (...

    05/19/2017 - 07:00 Quantum Physics