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Sunday, April 11, 2021
Scientists solve another piece of the puzzling Antikythera mechanism

Scientists solve another piece of the puzzling Antikythera mechanism

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Enlarge / "Exploded" view of the new computer model of the Antikythera mechanism, showing how it might have worked.Tony Freeth Scientists have long struggled to solve the puzzle of the gearing system on the front of the so-called Antikythera mechanism—a fragmentary ancient Greek astronomical calculator, perhaps the earliest example of a geared device. Now, an…
Researchers measure the gravity exerted by a 90 milligram object

Researchers measure the gravity exerted by a 90 milligram object

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Enlarge / The experimental setup.Tobias Westphal / University of Vienna Gravity may feel like one of the most familiar forces, but it's actually among those we understand least. We know our current model of gravity is inconsistent with quantum mechanics. It also fails to account for the phenomena we've termed dark matter and dark energy.…
A tiny gold ball is the smallest object to have its gravity measured

A tiny gold ball is the smallest object to have its...

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Even teeny objects obey the law of gravity. A gold ball just 2 millimeters wide, with a mass of about 90 milligrams, is now the smallest object to have its gravitational pull measured. Observations of that gold sphere tugging on another similarly sized sphere confirm that gravity behaves as expected even for extremely weak gravitational…
A magnetic trap captures elusive ultracold plasma

A magnetic trap captures elusive ultracold plasma

In terms of difficulty, trapping a plasma is right up there with catching a cloud and pinning it down, or holding a moonbeam in your hand. But physicists have devised a new way to magnetically bottle an ultracold plasma in the lab. Using magnetism to trap frigid plasmas, in which particles move around sluggishly, could…
Meet Maxwell’s gambling demon—smart enough to quit while it’s ahead

Meet Maxwell’s gambling demon—smart enough to quit while it’s ahead

Enlarge / In a new version of the classic 19th-century thought experiment, Maxwell’s demon plays the role of a gambler who knows when to quit while it's ahead. Entropy (aka the second law of thermodynamics) is a harsh mistress. If you think of the universe as a cosmic casino, the laws of thermodynamics amount to the house…
Meet this year’s winners of the Dance Your PhD contest

Meet this year’s winners of the Dance Your PhD contest

Finnish researcher Jakub Kubecka won this year's Dance Your PhD contest with a rap-based dance inspired by his work on the physics of atmospheric molecular clusters.The global pandemic ruined most of our plans for 2020, but it couldn't keep graduate students around the world from setting their thesis research to dance, submitting videos produced in…
Black hole visionaries push the boundaries of knowledge in a new film

Black hole visionaries push the boundaries of knowledge in a new...

Black holes sit on the cusp of the unknowable. Anything that crosses a black hole’s threshold is lost forever, trapped by an extreme gravitational pull. That enigmatic quality makes the behemoths an enticing subject, scientists explain in the new documentary Black Holes: The Edge of All We Know. The film follows two teams working over…
“Locked” for 300 years: Virtual unfolding has now revealed this letter’s secrets

“Locked” for 300 years: Virtual unfolding has now revealed this letter’s...

In 1697, a man named Jacques Sennacque wrote a letter to his cousin, a French merchant named Pierre Le Pers, requesting a certified death certificate for another man named Daniel Le Pers (presumably also a relation). Sennacque sealed the letter with an intricate folding method known as "letterlocking," a type of physical cryptography, to safeguard…
Lone high-energy neutrino likely came from shredded star in distant galaxy

Lone high-energy neutrino likely came from shredded star in distant galaxy

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Enlarge / The remains of a shredded star formed an accretion disk around the black hole whose powerful tidal forces ripped it apart. This created a cosmic particle accelerator spewing out fast subatomic particles. Roughly 700 million years ago, a tiny subatomic particle was born in a galaxy far, far away and began its journey…
Scientists create new class of “Turing patterns” in colonies of E. coli

Scientists create new class of “Turing patterns” in colonies of E....

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Scientists have shown how a new class of Turing patterns work by using synthetic biology to create them from scratch in the lab.Shortly before his death, Alan Turing published a provocative paper outlining his theory for how complex, irregular patterns emerge in nature—his version of how the leopard got its spots. These so-called Turing patterns…

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