3-D Fractals Offer Clues to Complex Systems. By folding fractals into 3-D objects, a mathematical duo hopes to gain new insight into simple equations.
The mechanics behind how elephants, zebras and other animals use their tails as flyswatters.
Mathematicians Create Entirely New Dive with 5 Twists and 1.5 Somersaults.
Another year, another fun epidemiology study about the living dead. Zombies Would Wipe Out Humans in Less than 100 Days. Also this week in disease modeling: Gunshot wounds are contagious; bullets spread like the flu, study finds.
Strange "Moon Glow" Caused by Levitating Dust. A new NASA study reveals the source of puzzling lights near the lunar surface.
Wow. This Beautiful Short Film About Supernovas Was Made with Ink and Water.
Scientists have been researching the physics of rainbows for 400 years—a reminder to never stop asking questions.
Could the Universe have begun from a Big Bounce? Discussion of Sean Carroll's talk at this week's AAS meeting in Grapevine, Texas.
There was also a big breakthrough in the cosmic mystery of fast radio bursts, Alex Witze reports. Even more news from AAS: Milky Way's giant black hole may shoot planet-size spitballs at other galaxies.
Google, Microsoft and a host of labs and start-ups are racing to turn scientific curiosities into working machines. Here's physicist Leo Kouwenhoven on topological qubits: "I tell my students that 2017 is the year of braiding."
Go, Psyche! NASA Is Actually Going to Visit That Insane Metallic World.
Space Travel: How Do Gravitational Slingshots Work?
The Death Star: Ultimate weapon of mass destruction. Related: How Hard Would It Be to Push a Star Destroyer? "Not as hard as you'd think." Also: Star Wars: The Financial Recession. "Blowing up the Death Star would cripple the universe’s economy."
Even Physicists Find the Multiverse Faintly Disturbing. "It’s not the immensity or even the inscrutability, but that it reduces physical law to happenstance."
Today, physicists think that Newtonian gravitation is merely a useful approximation to general relativity.
Distant Quasars Show That Fundamental Constants Never Change.
Concrete's defects could be the secret to making it stronger.
Beautiful X-Ray Movies Reveal Skeletons Like Never Before.
Electron “Leapfrog” Could Lead to Low-Power Nanoscale devices.
This chaotic pattern is actually 21st-century camouflage — keeping you hidden from facial-recognition software. (Image: Adam Harvey)
Feynman's Thermodynamics: Energy is like children’s toys: often hiding out of sight, but never actually lost.
Steven Weinberg on The Trouble with Quantum Mechanics. "The development of quantum mechanics in the first decades of the twentieth century came as a shock to many physicists. Today, despite the great successes of quantum mechanics, arguments continue about its meaning, and its future."
Charles Dickens (Private Investigator) and his Telegraphic Aiding Identifier.
Behold the greatest spirographs in the world: They used to be math toys for drawing, but now they're so much more.
An Astronomer’s Most Beloved Telescope. Wall Street Journal profile of Marcel Agüeros and the place that inspired him.
How Princess Leia Inspired This Woman to Become an Astrophysicist: Stanford physics professor shares how Vera Rubin and Carrie Fisher impacted her love of science.
“It’s not that the problems [in physics] are hard... It’s that knowing which problems to try and solve is hard.”
Geoengineering Could Be a Disaster for Astronomy.
The story of the revolutionary 17th-century star catalog that survived three fires to give us the first moon map.
The daguerreotype debuted in January 1839. It was one of 100 ideas that changed photography. Related: Thousands of Photos from the George Eastman Museum, the World’s Oldest Photography Collection, Now Available Online.
August Musger: The Priest and Physicist Who Invented Slow Motion.
Stanford scientists have digitally created the Hagia Sophia’s unique sound, taking listeners back to the Middle Ages.
A tiny bespectacled parrot named Obi-Wan Kenobi reveals surprising details about flight.
Can NASCAR Stop Secondary Accidents? "You’ve seen it before: a car spins and a couple cars behind it end up crashing because they couldn’t avoid the first car or maybe even each other."
So About That Physics-Defying NASA Thruster That Supposedly Works.
MIT’s self-folding origami technology could change how we design everything from airbags to wearables.
Create a Snowstorm in a Bottle with an 18th-Century Weather Prediction Method.
Scientist creates world's smallest snowman out of silicon. "Each silicon sphere is 0.9 micrometers across making the snowman just short of 3 micrometers tall." [Image: Todd Simpson, Western University Nanofabrication Facility, Ontario, Canada.]
Ars Technica's Annalee Newitz says Hidden Figures is "A must-see film about using math to overcome adversity and send humans into orbit."
Wired's Rhett Allain says "Let’s Tackle a Classic, Wicked Physics Problem. It’ll Be Fun—Promise." If that's not quite your cup of tea, try this: How Long Would It Take to Scale a Mountain in a Human-Powered Chairlift?
The moving sofa math problem: still unsolved 50 years later.
Talking with some of the mathematicians who help Disney animators bring the ocean to life in Moana.
Why the Number Line Freaks Ben Orlin Out: "almost everything on the number line is non-computable."
NASA Animation Offers a Freakishly Accurate Look at This Year's Coast-to-Coast Eclipse.
How Trump could wage a war on scientific expertise. The mechanics of stripping empiricism out of America’s regulatory systems.
Diving into the unthinkable cold truths of a nuclear war: "Our national security has been based on the perception that nuclear war is unhealthy." It seems we need a reminder.
2016 and Trolley Problems: "the Trolley Problem is the best lens for looking at the decisions we’ve actually made."
The Best Prime Numbers of 2016: Because prime numbers didn't let us down this year.
Ars Technica's annual googling of “NASA hiding” does not disappoint: a Borg cube at the Sun and a hole at the North Pole.
Some perspective on our place in the Universe from the high Chilean desert: Stunning panoramas from the European Southern Observatory.
Astrophotographer Göran Strand captured a very rare sight: a lunar fogbow. "Fogbows are similar to rainbows, in that they’re caused by water droplets, but in detail they’re very different." [Image: Goran Strand]
Mathematical Induction and the Nature of British Miracles: "induction is a tool that lets us probe the infinite, despite our disappointingly finite mortal existence."
All the astronauts on the International Space Station did the mannequin challenge.
The Teach to One Math Experiment in Mountain View, CA Is a Trainwreck: A Cautionary Tale of Digital Math Education. You can read the full article in the local newspaper, Mountain View Voice, here. Related: Keith Devlin: "All the methods I learned in my university math degree became obsolete in my lifetime."
1.2 Trillion Ways to Play the Same Sudoku: "the numbers don’t actually matter."
The Absurdity of Detecting Gravitational Waves.
Rare recording of Einstein's 1941 radio address about The Common Language of Science.
"Scientists from The Splash Lab explore some of the physics involved in pouring paint atop a rectangular post."
Sliced Fruits Look Brilliantly Purple when Filmed with an Ultraviolet Camera.
Black (Lead) and White (Silver), Beautiful Microscopy Imagery of Metal Displacement Reactions.
Entropy and Complexity Compete to Create the Brilliant Accidents of Humanity.
Why you can't clone Schrodinger's cat (aka Proof of the No-Cloning Theorem).