Physics

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By: Hannah Pell On 29 March 2021, the Biden administration announced another ambitious clean energy goal: deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030. According to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the U.S. offshore wind capacity was 28,521 megawatts (or 28.5 gigawatts) in 2019. Deploying an additional 30 gigawatts over a decade
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By Jill Kathleen Wenderott Women Supporting Women in the Sciences (WS2), an international organization unifying and supporting graduate and professional-level women and allies in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), has recently been awarded an American Physical Society (APS) Innovation Fund to form international teams that will design and distribute low-cost physics and materials science
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By Allison Kubo Hutchison Synthetic diamond created using vapour deposition process. Steve Jurvetson, Apollo synthetic diamond, CC BY 2.0 In late 1940, the Debeers Diamond company started using the slogan “Diamonds are forever” to popularize diamond engagement rings. What they didn’t know is that in terms of quantum mechanics that might be true. Diamonds are
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By: Hannah Pell “Go out and make the world a better place.” So ends the foreword to CDR Primer, an online, freely available digital booklet co-authored by more than a dozen climate scientists, social scientists, engineers, and writers in dialogue about carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technology and its important role in addressing our climate crisis.
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By Allison Kubo Hutchison Noah Friedlander, San Francisco from the Marin Headlands in March 2019, CC BY-SA 4.0  As you walk the pavement of your city, the buildings rising around you, the impact of a city on the landscape is clear. It changes the skyline and the view. But how does it change the ground
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By: Hannah Pell I recently relocated from the bustling Washington, D.C. metro area back to my south-central Pennsylvania hometown. My new space is in a quiet, wooded area; outside my back window I see an expanse full of trees (“Pennsylvania” actually means “Penn’s Woods”) — and a small solar farm is nestled in between them.
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By Allison Kubo Hutchison The same animal was once described by paleontologists as a shrimp, jellyfish, sea cucumber, and a sponge at different times during its study. Anomalocaris, Latin for “abnormal shrimp”, is a creature of exceeding strangeness to modern hominids; it is related to modern-day shrimp with a flat segmented body, faceted eyes on
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By: Hannah Pell “The most important car in 100 years.” Such is how James May, co-host of the British car show Top Gear, described the Honda Clarity during his test drive several years ago. “This is the future of motoring.” What is it about this car that seemed so revolutionary? It’s the fact that it’s
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By Allison Kubo Hutchison  Elizabeth Ann, the first cloned black-footed ferret taken on Jan 29,2021. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP. Although all births are special and joyous occasions, on December 10, 2020, researchers celebrated the birth of an extraordinary ferret kit. Elizabeth Ann, born from a domestic ferret surrogate, is not biologically related
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Nuclear science first penetrated American consciousness with the building of the atomic bomb. It has become both a beneficial and destructive force that influences many aspects of human life from energy, to the environment, to medicine. Yet this field of study —that peers into the atomic nuclei — is something people generally don’t teach or
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By: Hannah Pell On March 7, 1995, Gary Mansfield, a health physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, sent out an email to members of the RadSafe nuclear safety mailing list. The subject line read: “Banana Equivalent Dose.” “Some time ago (when I almost had time to do such things), I calculated the [radiation] dose
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By Allison Kubo Hutchison Parke Radio Telescope detected unnatural signals from the region around Proxima Centauri on April 29 2019. Photo by Stephen West. Scientists at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) have detected a narrow band of radio signals coming from a narrow area around Proxima Centauri, our nearest neighbor star at 4.2465 light-years
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By: Hannah Pell  With instantaneous communication and access to far more information than any of us could ever know or need, it’s important that there are people we trust to clearly explain the messiness of the world around us. The COVID-19 pandemic has especially demonstrated the challenges of disseminating complex scientific research to the general
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By Allison Kubo Hutchison Elevation map of the Jezero Crater, landing site of the Perseverance Rover. NASA/Tim Goudge Located on the Northwest side of Isidis Basin, Jezero Crater’s lay undisturbed except for dust storms and meteorite impacts for countless eons. Jezero Crater is an uneven half-circle where the Northeast side is worn away. There are
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By Allison Kubo Hutchison You are enjoying a sunny beach day, showing off a new swimsuit. You take a dip in the water, you feel something brush your foot. You look down and it’s a trilobite. Your first panicked thought: Do trilobites bite? Other than the fact that trilobite went extinct 252 million years ago,
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By: Hannah Pell Being homebound during winter often means higher electricity bills for those of us north of the Sun Belt. And for many currently working remotely or attending school virtually, there may be added strain on top (although hopefully not to the same extent as the Griswold family’s infamous holiday lights). When so many
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Kilauea summit lava lake at a depth of 515 ft (156 m) taken 8 a.m. Dec. 23. USGS photo by H. Dietterich By Allison Kubo Hutchison On December 20, 2020, at about 9:30 PM, Halema’uma’u Crater, the traditional home of the goddess Pele, hosted the first eruption of the Kilauea volcano since going silent in
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By Cristian Cernov and Tatiana Erukhimova With support from the American Physics Society, we started Real Physics Live. Since then, our 14 person team composed of Texas A&M undergrads, grads, and one faculty member has produced over 20 high-quality videos, which you can view at our website: realphysicslive.com   Needless to say, Real Physics Live
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By: Hannah Pell Many of us have been spending a lot of time on our own lately. It can be difficult to feel like we’re accomplishing all that much individually — especially when social media is always there to remind you of how productive your friends and colleagues have been during quarantine. I long for
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By: Hannah Pell Nuclear power is an important aspect of our diverse energy infrastructure. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, nuclear power plants produced 19.6% of the total electricity generated in the U.S. in 2019. Over the last several years, however, there has been a decline in the number of operating nuclear power plants.
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If you live in a part of the world with cold winters, you probably know the awful feeling that comes with an unexpectedly early frost or snow—one that covers your car in a layer of ice before you’ve pulled out your gloves and ice scraper for the season. The one that makes your fingers freeze
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As someone whose job it is to help people understand and appreciate physics, I absolutely hate the way most people talk about Isaac Newton and how he developed his theory of gravity. It’s not the apple bit that I have a problem with; that’s an important part of the story, and even historically accurate! The thing
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Tin is a commonplace metal that’s used industrially in a thousand different ways. From the solder that holds your computer’s motherboard together to the PVC plumbing under your sink, tin compounds are everywhere. In spite of its versatility, tin possesses an interesting physical property which is responsible for its tendency to wear down over time
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By Lindsay Olson Scientific Adviser:  Dr. Don Lincoln Curator: Georgia Schwender  As Fermilab’s first artist in residence, my workspace had some unusual supplies for an artist’s studio. Pinned to my idea board I had a list of subatomic particles, quotes from popular physics books, the names of inspiring physicists, and a picture of Nobel Laureate
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It’s a typical December scenario: The family trip to the tree lot. The Fraser Fir tied to the roof of the car. Dad under the branches screwing the stand to the trunk. And the inevitable wobbling of the 7-foot holiday embellishment as it threatens to topple over and onto the floor, scattering needles everywhere. When
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By: Hannah Pell In the 2004 movie National Treasure, the main character Ben Gates — a historian, cryptographer, and treasure hunter played by Nicholas Cage — is determined to solve the generational mystery passed down to him from his grandfather. The only clue that Ben has is: The secret lies with Charlotte. Based on this,
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Like much of the world, scientists thrive on coffee. It’s not just because of the caffeine though, it turns out that even spilled coffee fuels research. Most people are annoyed by nagging coffee stains, but to physicist Sidney Nagel they were inspiration. If you’re a coffee lover (or you live with one), I guarantee that
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They sniff out drugs, cadavers, missing people, explosives, and even cancer. Dogs are more than man’s best friend, they are some of the best chemical detectors in existence. They are so good that by modifying a commercially available explosives detector to act like a dog’s nose, researchers were able to make the detector much more
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The fastest timescales. The highest pressures. Absolute zero. The nanoscale. These conditions are far from our everyday experience, but studying how things behave in different situations can reveal a more complete picture of their nature—and can lead to revolutionary breakthroughs. Click to enlarge. This false-color map of a random light field includes a large number