Articles on Physics

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Not just a source of food: this river could help doctors save lives. julien_harnies

Cutting pneumonia deaths with electricity-free oxygen devices

Pneumonia kills more children worldwide than malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis combined. This is surprising given that treatment for pneumonia is relatively simple. In rich countries survival rates are very…
Dung beetles love the Milky Way because they use it for navigation. No, seriously they do. mattvisser

Ig Nobels 2013: from attaching penises to stargazing beetles

This year’s Ig Nobel prizes were awarded on September 12 at a meeting of nerds at Harvard University. The prizes are given for genuine scientific research that “first makes people laugh and then makes…
The science of spin bowling yields some interesting – and practical – results. Wallula Junction

Could the physics of spin bowling turn the Ashes around?

After the first day of the third Ashes test cricket match between England and Australia it may be a good time to consider how spin bowling might affect the outcome of the series - and how science can be…
Albert Einstein was considered to be a ‘lone genius’ – but this was not the case, and it’s certainly not the norm. tsweden

Einstein to Weinstein: the lone genius is an exception to the rule

Developing a Theory of Everything is physics’ Holy Grail. So could it have been completed in recent weeks? And by an outsider, working alone? American mathematical physicist-turned-hedge-fund-consultant…
The Large Hadron Collider has temporarily shut down, but will return stronger than ever. CERN

Goodbye, for a while, to the Large Hadron Collider

The lord of the particle accelerator, CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), went out of particle collision business for almost two years as of late last week. For particle physicists, Valentine’s Day 2013…
Scientist Laurence Krauss has said the philosophy of science is hard to justify. World Economic Forum/Flickr

Philosophy under attack: Lawrence Krauss and the new denialism

I really shouldn’t let myself watch Q&A. Don’t get me wrong, the ABC’s flagship weekly panel show is usually compelling viewing. But after just a few minutes I end up with the systolic blood pressure…
The Large Hadron Collider has been used to find out what matter is fundamentally made of, and how the universe was created. EPA/Martial Triezzini

Explainer: quarks

One of humanity’s eternal questions surrounds what we are fundamentally made of. Many ancient philosophies believed in a set of classical elements: from water, air, fire and earth of ancient Greeks; to…
Some of the isotopes we find here on Earth were created in supernova explosions like this one. NASA

Explainer: what is an isotope?

If you’ve ever studied a periodic table of the elements (see below), you’re probably already aware that this table reveals a great deal about the chemical properties of the atoms that make up our world…
Sometimes the juiciest treats come in small packages. Dylan Parker

What my tomatoes taught me about quantum mechanics

Most people outside the esoteric worlds of little-science physics (aka quantum mechanics) and big-science physics (aka cosmology) will at some point realise both worlds fly in the face of intuition. Why…
The cobalt hues of the sky above are thanks to all manner of molecules in the air. djking

Explainer: why is the sky blue?

A young child looked up in the sky, And said, “It’s so blue, Mum, but why?” You see, blue scatters more, (There’s this power of 4), So it rarely comes straight to your eye. – Author unknown Most of what…
Everything we see around us could be little more than bits in a giant supercomputer. petertandlund

Alert: you may be living in a simulated universe

As a cosmologist, I often carry around a universe or two in my pocket. Not entire, infinitely large universes, but maybe a few billion light years or so across. Enough to be interesting. Of course, these…
There are many ways physical laws can be exploited to trick cameras, detectors and eyes. Niels Linneberg

Invisibility tech is advancing, but not seeing is believing

What do Casper the Friendly Ghost, Harry Potter and H.G Wells’ Griffin all have in common? The answer, of course, is “the ability to become invisible”. And these three characters weren’t the first to have…

The physics of a soccer strike

The success of soccer player Christiano Ronaldo’s powerful “knuckleball” strike is due to fluctuating aerodynamic lift forces…
A combination of wax and coiling makes carbon nanotube muscles stronger than ever. Science/AAAS

Power to you: carbon nanotube muscles are going strong

Just on a year ago my colleagues and I announced our discovery that carbon nanotube yarns could be made to twist and rotate at great speeds when electrically stimulated. In this way we had created “artificial…
When you shine a torch into a dusty room, not all the photons reach their destination. Simon Greig (xrrr)

‘Louder’ light could power a brighter quantum future

All of the light we see around us comes in chunks of energy known as photons. As well as making up light, photons can be used to carry and process information and their quantum properties make possible…

When nanoparticles (almost) touch

When two gold nanoparticle spheres are pushed sufficiently close together, the gap between them acquires a red colour, as…
You’d probably get a bit of a fright if ball lightning started moving through your house. Wikimedia Commons

Ball lightning exists … but what on Earth is it?

Ball lightning is one of the strangest phenomena on our planet. It’s usually seen during thunderstorms as a ball of light about the size of a grapefruit, with the intensity of roughly a 40W light bulb…

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