Tagged With physics

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Late last weekend, semi-pro photographer Timothy Joseph Elzinga woke up in the early hours of the morning to attend to his crying two-year-old son. When he looked out the window, he was greeted with a rare and spectacular sight known as light pillars. Smartly, he picked up his camera and captured some of the most incredible images of this natural phenomenon we've ever seen.

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When NASA scientists think they have built something that breaks the laws of physics, do you take them at their word?

Science has long buzzed about an "impossible" rocket thruster, one that looks like an air blaster you'd buy at Disney Land and somehow generates thrust without propellant to push it forward. The so-called electromagnetic or EM drive makes headlines annually, but this year is different: An American team working on the drive released a peer-reviewed paper demonstrating that their prototype works, and a Chinese team claims that they have tested their own functional model.

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The world's leading gravitational wave detector is back online and better than ever. After a series of upgrades, the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (Advanced LIGO) switched on yesterday. Physicists are already stoked about the cosmic collisions they're going to measure during its next six-month run.

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I can’t help but be excited about the EmDrive, the experimental space propulsion system that seems to defy the fundamental laws of physics. A peer-reviewed paper has just been released, and, despite many physicists expecting this paper to finally kill the EmDrive puzzle, the opposite has happened: the paper found that the drive does, in fact produce thrust. It’s just that nobody seems to know how. Or why. I asked our tame physicist to help us figure this out.

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Video: Most people look at skateboarders as hooligans, turning public car parks and shopping centres into their own private skate parks. But it turns out a professional boarder can teach you more about physics than your high school science teacher ever could. You just need someone to explain what's going on during ollies, kick flips and rail slides.

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Millions of years ago, B3 1715+425 was just an ordinary supermassive black hole. It had a comfortable life, of devouring stars and belching deadly X-rays, at the centre of its distant galaxy. Now, starless and alone, it's screaming through space at 3219km per second — and it may never stop.

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MIT's fusion program has fallen on hard times, but that hasn't stopped it from smashing world records and keeping the dream of limitless, carbon-free energy alive. At an International Atomic Energy Agency summit in Japan this week, researchers involved with MIT's Alcator C-Mod tokamak reactor announced that their machine had generated the highest plasma pressure ever recorded.

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Using the Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers have found evidence of a "wandering" black hole on the outskirts of a distant galaxy. It's too far away to cause us any trouble, but the discovery of this homeless ball of gravitational despair affirms a long standing theory about the existence of such objects.

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Textbook illustrations and museum dioramas could soon be even more accurate in their depiction of the rich colours of long-extinct animals like dinosaurs. An international team of scientists used advanced X-ray imaging techniques to map out elements related to pigmentation in modern birds of prey, which they will use to reconstruct the likely colour patterns of fossil specimens.

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The paradox of Schrödinger's cat — in which a quantum cat is both alive and dead at the same time until we check to see which state it's in — is arguably the most famous example of the bizarre counter-intuitive nature of the quantum world. Now, Stanford physicists have exploited this feature weirdness to make highly detailed movies of the inner machinery of simple iodine molecules.