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  • News

    Revamping the metric measure of mass

    The metric system is on track for a mass makeover.  

    In an effort to provide accurate measurements at all scales, scientists are preparing to redefine four basic units by the end of 2018. The shift will most notably affect the kilogram, the base measure of mass and the last member of the International System of Units still defined by a physical object. Current efforts are under way to...

    07/27/2015 - 06:00 Physics
  • Science Ticker

    Stretchy fiber keeps electrons flowing

    A carbon-wrapped rubber rope keeps electrical current flowing even when stretched, twisted and bent. The flexible fiber, reported in the July 24 Science, could inspire flexible electronic displays, improved pacemaker leads and stretchable power cords.

    Elasticity and current-carrying prowess don’t usually go together:...

    07/23/2015 - 17:04 Materials
  • News

    Carbon dating may soon lead to mismatches

    The accuracy of carbon dating may soon be a thing of the past.

    Carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels threaten the method’s ability to definitively pinpoint the age of organic materials, new research suggests. The extra carbon flooding the atmosphere dilutes the relative number of radioactive carbon atoms that are vital to the dating method. By 2050, the age of fresh organic matter...

    07/20/2015 - 15:06 Climate, Chemistry
  • News

    Biology may provide just the right chemistry for new drugs

    NORTH BETHESDA, Md. — Chemists are struggling to develop new drugs these days — and biologists may have just the pill for that.

    By tapping natural enzymes and tweaking microbes, researchers may find and make new drugs more easily, says biological engineer Vikramaditya Yadav of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Yadav says he has developed a method to make a complicated...

    07/20/2015 - 09:57 Chemistry
  • News

    Elusive particle shows up in ‘semimetal’

    A kind of particle first predicted to exist before the discovery of Pluto has been spotted on Earth within a compound of tantalum and arsenic.

    The newly discovered particles, known as Weyl fermions, resemble massless electrons that dart around and through the material in unusual and exciting ways, researchers report July 16 in ...

    07/16/2015 - 14:00 Condensed Matter, Particle Physics
  • Say What?

    Source of blazars’ super brightness comes into focus

    \BLEHY-zahr\ n.

    An unusually luminous galaxy that fires off a jet of high-energy matter and radiation toward Earth.

    Blazars have been spotted throughout the sky, but researchers don’t know how these jets form. Scientists suspect that gas piles up near a galaxy’s central black hole, where it heats up and gets flung away at nearly the speed of light. Astronomers are...

    07/14/2015 - 12:30 Astronomy, Physics
  • News

    Swimming bacteria remove resistance to flow

    Water flows best when it’s chock-full of synchronized-swimming bacteria.

    By coaxing billions of E. coli to work together, French researchers got a small sample of a bacteria-laden solution to have no resistance to flow, or zero viscosity. Such effortless motion is usually reserved for superfluids like liquid helium that are kept at frigid temperatures.

    “The results are...

    07/13/2015 - 08:00 Physics, Biophysics
  • Feature

    The arrow of time

    In T.H. White’s fantasy novel The Once and Future King, Merlyn the magician suffers from a rare and incurable condition: He experiences time in reverse. He knows what will happen, he laments, but not what has happened. “I have to live backwards from in front, while surrounded by a lot of people living forwards from behind,” he explains to a justifiably confused companion.


    07/10/2015 - 14:23 Physics, Cosmology
  • News

    Magnetic test boosts case for record-setting superconductor

    A promising material for conducting electrical current without resistance at a relatively high temperature has passed a crucial test. New magnetic measurements, detailed by German physicists in a study posted online June 26 at, indicate that pressurized hydrogen sulfide is a superconductor at roughly 200 kelvins.

    The fresh data...

    07/06/2015 - 08:30 Condensed Matter
  • News

    Missing enzyme to blame for scentless roses

    Stopping to smell the roses might be a letdown — and now researchers know why.

    The sweet-smelling flowers craft their scent using a surprising enzyme, previously thought to help prune genetic errors, researchers report July 3 in Science. That enzyme — and potent aroma — is missing in many roses bred for...

    07/02/2015 - 14:00 Chemistry, Plants