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Articles on Physics

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TRAPPIST-1e is a rocky exoplanet in the habitable zone of a star 40 light-years from Earth and may have water and clouds, as depicted in this artist’s impression. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Wikimedia Commons

To search for alien life, astronomers will look for clues in the atmospheres of distant planets – and the James Webb Space Telescope just proved it’s possible to do so

Life on Earth has dramatically changed the chemistry of the planet. Astronomers will measure light that bounces off distant planets to look for similar clues that they host life.
A nanographene molecule imaged by noncontact atomic force microscopy. Patrik Tschudin/gross3HR/Wikimedia Commons

What do molecules look like?

A physicist explains how atoms arrange themselves into molecules – and how scientists are able to image these tiny bits of matter that make up everything around you.
Protons and neutrons in an atom’s nucleus can be arranged in different configurations, creating nuclear isomers. KTSdesign/SciencePhotoLibrary via Getty Images

Nuclear isomers were discovered 100 years ago, and physicists are still unraveling their mysteries

Nuclear isomers are rare versions of elements with properties that mystified physicists when first discovered. Isomers are now used in medicine and astronomy, and researchers are set to discover thousands more of them.
Measuring the mass of W bosons took 10 years – and the result was not what physicists expected. PM Images/Digital Vision via Getty Images

A decade of science and trillions of collisions show the W boson is more massive than expected – a physicist on the team explains what it means for the Standard Model

A decadelong experiment produced the most accurate measurement yet of the mass of W bosons. These particles are responsible for the weak force, and the result is more evidence for undiscovered physics.
Magnetic fusion reactors contain super hot plasma in a donut-shaped container called a tokamak. dani3315/iStock via Getty Images

Nuclear fusion hit a milestone thanks to better reactor walls – this engineering advance is building toward reactors of the future

In January 2022, the JET fusion experiment produced more power over a longer period of time than any past attempt. Two physicists explain the engineering advancements that made the result possible.
According to researcher Marc-Antoine Fardin, under the right circumstances, cats’ bodies can behave like liquids. Nevena Uzurov/Moment via Getty Images

Physics and psychology of cats – an (improbable) conversation

Have you wondered why cats are so nimble and seem to fit perfectly in cups, boxes, and other small places? Or how cats communicate with humans? A physicist and a psychologist explain.
Ski jumpers use aerodynamics and physics to overcome gravity – at least for a while. AP Photo/Matthias Schrader

Ski jump: Flying or falling with style?

Ski jumpers do everything they can to counteract the effects of gravity and fly as far as they can down hills.

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