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Articles on Physics

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Graphene may have humble beginnings, but it’s becoming a major draw. qwertyuiop

From pencil to high-speed internet: graphene is a modern wonder

It inspired the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics. It’s the best thermal conductor we know of. It’s a crystal stiffer than diamond, but able to stretch by 20% of its length, and can carry a current density one…
How long’s a piece of string? You may want to sit down for a minute. Gnu2000

Explainer: String theory

String theory entered the public arena in 1988 when a BBC radio series Desperately Seeking Superstrings was broadcast. Thanks to good marketing and its inherently curious name and features, it’s now part…
Theoretical physics strives towards a (beautiful) description of everything. Jinx!

Explainer: Standard Model of Particle Physics

The “traditional” beauty of theoretical physics is its equations. If we want to describe something, or the way something behaves, we can write down a relation between some properties we think that thing…
You wouldn’t believe what modern telescopes can do. Professor Fumolatro/Flickr

Will we ever see the Big Bang?

Last week, scientists set a new distance record, seeing a burst of gamma-rays from a star that exploded when the universe was only 520 million years old. The light from this distant source has been travelling…

Rounding up electrons

A decade-long experiment has discovered electrons are “rounder” than expected. The experiment looked at electrons inside…
Would you behave differently if you knew when the crash was coming? Dave Hunt/AAP

Pop science: predicting the end of Australia’s property bubble

Economists and physicists may seem like unlikely bedfellows, but then opposites often attract. Their union has recently produced a peculiar baby, a field of research known as “econophysics”. Physicists…
As yet we can only guess what the Higgs boson might look like. DESY Zeuthen

Explainer: the Higgs boson particle

Theoretical physics is full of mysteries and unknowns. In the case of some particles, we can predict their existence even if we can’t find them. Such is the status of the Higgs boson. And yet detecting…
Nanoparticles, as used in sunscreen, are readily absorbed by the body. Tony Bartlett/AAP

Explainer: Nanotechnology and you

For the public, the jury is still out on nanotechnology – the media simultaneously extols its promise and warns of the potential calamity facing humanity. But what is it? How does it work? Is it dangerous…
Is the “Z-prime” lurking within a “jungle” of particles at the LHC? Argonne National Laboratory

Explainer: the Z’ (hypothetical) particle

There’s nothing like an unexpected result to get physicists excited. So in 2008, when some strange behaviour was detected from a rarely-produced particle known as the “top quark”, there was much interest…
Time travel has long been a staple of science fiction but the LHC might make it a reality. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Is the Large Hadron Collider a time machine?

Switzerland’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) can be called a time machine in one sense: it enables us to examine conditions as they were during the universe’s early stages. But is the 27km-long particle accelerator…
Could neutrinos be responsible for the shape of the universe? The Super-Kamiokande Neutrino Detector, Japan

Explainer: the elusive neutrino

Of all the known particles in our universe, neutrinos are perhaps the most elusive; their origins are mysterious, their purpose unknown and they are notoriously difficult to detect. You’ll already know…

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