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  • News

    Key Einstein principle survives quantum test

    Particles with mind-bending quantum properties still follow a standard gravitational rule, at least as far as scientists can tell.

    The equivalence principle — one of the central tenets of Einstein’s theory of gravity — survived a quantum test, scientists report online April 7 at arXiv.org.

    In Einstein’s gravity theory — the general theory of relativity — gravity and acceleration...

    04/28/2017 - 07:28 Quantum Physics
  • Science Ticker

    How a mushroom gets its glow

    The enzyme that turns on the light for a glow-in-the-dark mushroom seems “promiscuous,” researchers say. But in a good way.

    Researchers from Brazil, Russia and Japan have worked out new details of how two Neonothopanus fungi shine softly green at night. The team had earlier figured out that the basic starting material for bioluminescence in these fungi is a compound called hispidin,...

    04/27/2017 - 09:00 Fungi, Chemistry
  • News in Brief

    Gamma-ray evidence for dark matter weakens

    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...

    04/24/2017 - 09:00 Physics, Astronomy
  • News

    Plot twist in methane mystery blames chemistry, not emissions, for recent rise

    A recent upsurge in planet-warming methane may not be caused by increasing emissions, as previously thought, but by methane lingering longer in the atmosphere.

    That’s the conclusion of two independent studies that indirectly tracked concentrations of hydroxyl, a highly reactive chemical that rips methane molecules apart. Hydroxyl levels in the atmosphere decreased roughly 7 or 8 percent...

    04/20/2017 - 08:00 Climate, Pollution, Chemistry
  • Feature

    There’s still a lot we don’t know about the proton

    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...

    04/18/2017 - 08:00 Physics, Particle Physics, Quantum Physics
  • Television

    The drama of Albert Einstein’s life unfolds in the new series Genius

    View trailer

    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...

    04/16/2017 - 08:00 Physics, History of Science
  • News

    New tech harvests drinking water from (relatively) dry air using only sunlight

    A new device the size of a coffee mug can generate drinkable water from desert air using nothing but sunlight.

    “With this device, you can harvest the equivalent of a Coke can’s worth of water in an hour,” says cocreator Omar Yaghi, a chemist at the University of California, Berkeley. “That’s about how much water a person needs to survive in the desert.”

    Though that may not sound...

    04/13/2017 - 14:00 Chemistry, Sustainability, Materials, Science & Society
  • News

    Physics trips up efforts to keep shoelaces tied

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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...

    04/11/2017 - 19:05 Physics
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers question mental health research

    New normal

    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...

    04/05/2017 - 10:39 Mental Health, Animals, Physics
  • Science Ticker

    Event Horizon Telescope to try to capture images of elusive black hole edge

    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...

    04/05/2017 - 05:00 Astronomy, Physics