Articles on Physics

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Don’t fear losing that ball, the waves will bring them back.

Tractor beam generates waves that bring back floating objects

You would normally expect objects that float in water to move in the same direction as waves. But now we can force floating objects to move in the opposite direction. This unexpected effect nicknamed a…
Despite the slightly shallower (and slower) Tollcross pool, Australia’s Daniel Fox set a world record in the Men’s 200m Freestyle S14 heat. Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Why swimming records stand, even with a broken pool floor

You may have seen some controversy regarding water depth in the Tollcross International Swimming Centre being used for competition at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. The pool has a movable floor that allows…
Ethane in three forms: subcritical, critical and supercritical. Dr. Sven Horstmann

Explainer: what is a supercritical fluid?

When we boil a kettle, we observe what scientists call a phase transition: the water changes from being a liquid to a gas as water becomes less dense. One litre of water boils to give about 1,000 litres…
Cilcik on the image to learn how stars are made. Picture: NASA.

VIDEO: What are stars?

How are stars formed? What are they made of? And what happens to them when they die? In this week’s TCTV, astrophysicist Akila Jeeson-Daniel explains the physics behind the balls of gas that light up the…
How do they do it? David Davies/PA Archive

Lutz or flutz? The tricky physics of figure skating

Figure skating is always the highlight of the Winter Olympics. With the introduction of a team competition this year, there are five figure skating events. And we’ve already seen much drama with records…
Superheated plasma inside the tokamak reactor, a split second before a fusion reaction. Scott Silburn/James Harrison/Alex Meakins

For decades a distant dream, the countdown to nuclear fusion may have finally begun

The latest results from the National Ignition Facility in the US represent the passing of a nuclear fusion power milestone and come after a year of significant progress at projects in France and the UK…
Electricity – just one bright idea to stem from physics. Flickr/JonathanCohen

Physics: a fundamental force for future security

AUSTRALIA 2025: How will science address the challenges of the future? In collaboration with Australia’s chief scientist Ian Chubb, we’re asking how each science discipline will contribute to Australia…
How long can you stay there depends on practice and physics. elisfanclub

Moon’s gravity alone cannot create the world’s largest tides

“Tide goes in, tide goes out…you can’t explain that.” So claimed US talkshow anchor Bill O’Reilly, in a baffling attempt to discredit atheism which became something of a YouTube sensation. I have been…
Muons, a type of lepton, are studied at the Large Hadron Collider – but what are they? CERN

Explainer: what are leptons?

The giant Large Hadron Collider at CERN’s lab in Europe may be closed until 2015 but experiments will still be run there in the second half of this year on much smaller synchrotrons that examined the decay…
Only physics can burn a hole through the sky. European Southern Observatory (ESO)

Beyond the Higgs boson: five reasons physics is still interesting

Would physics be “far more interesting” if the Higgs boson had not been found? Stephen Hawking thinks so. He made this bold claim, possibly with his tongue slightly in his cheek, at the opening of a new…
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…

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