China’s Genetically Edited babies: What really happened?

A Chinese researcher, He Jiankui, shocked the world two weeks ago when he revealed that the world’s first genetically edited babies had been born. Jiankui claimed to have edited embryos before implanting them into the mother as part of an otherwise routine in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure. Since his bold announcement via YouTube, the scientific community at-large – both in the United States and in … Continue reading China’s Genetically Edited babies: What really happened?

Seeing with Gravity: How invisible particles can be observed in outer space

Everyone on Earth is familiar with gravity to some extent; it is the force that pulls us down to the planet’s surface. In fact, all objects with mass tug on other objects moving around them because of gravity. The strength of the gravitational pull depends on the mass of the object, and is often too weak to notice. However, for things as massive as galaxies, … Continue reading Seeing with Gravity: How invisible particles can be observed in outer space

The Secret to a Spider’s Superpowered Silk

If you have ever swatted a spider web away from a dusty corner of the house, congratulations—you have unknowingly dismantled one of the toughest materials known to man. The silk which spiders use to spin their webs and capture prey is five times stronger than steel, yet lightweight and more flexible than rubber. Because of these remarkable properties, scientists have been trying for years to … Continue reading The Secret to a Spider’s Superpowered Silk

Worth the Weight: The kilogram is finally being redefined

In a basement vault near Paris, under a series of nested bell jars, sits a one kilogram platinum-iridium cylinder. Even as it wears away or collects dust particles, it is still exactly one kilogram. That’s because it is the kilogram: “Le Grand K.” For more than 100 years, it has been the international standard for the unit of mass, even though its mass has changed … Continue reading Worth the Weight: The kilogram is finally being redefined

The Electron Electric Dipole Moment: How the Shape of the Electron’s Field could Hint at New Particles

The matter in our universe is made of atoms; atoms are made of protons, neutrons, and electrons; and protons and neutrons are made of quarks. In our current theory of particle physics, electrons and quarks are elementary particles–they are the foundation of everything else. The full catalog of all known elementary particles and their interactions is called the Standard Model (SM). The SM has been … Continue reading The Electron Electric Dipole Moment: How the Shape of the Electron’s Field could Hint at New Particles

The Quest for Better Bandages Turns to Nanofibers

Our skin is a protective barrier to bacterial infection, but damage to the skin allows bacteria to enter. Normally, our immune system kills the bacteria and allows wounds to heal. However, certain diseases can overload the immune system and lead to heavy infection. Antibiotics are commonly used to treat heavy bacterial infection, but bacteria can develop drug resistance after too much exposure. A team at … Continue reading The Quest for Better Bandages Turns to Nanofibers

Free Falling: the science of weightlessness

by Lisa Heppler figures by Jovana Andrejevic Weightlessness is something many of us have dreamed about since we were kids. We have seen footage of astronauts floating around the International Space Station playing Ping-Pong with balls of water and Pac-Man with strings of M&Ms. For a moment, as we watch these astronauts thriving in an environment completely alien to us, we are able to imagine ourselves … Continue reading Free Falling: the science of weightlessness

Be the coolest house on the block with a fresh coat of a new polymer material

This summer, heat waves hit the Northern Hemisphere with temperatures upward of 100°F, highlighting one of the biggest current worldwide challenges: keeping buildings (and the people inside them) cool. A group of researchers from Columbia University may have an answer. They’ve designed a new material that chills buildings by reflecting sunlight. Instead of getting rid of heat that has already slipped into the building, this … Continue reading Be the coolest house on the block with a fresh coat of a new polymer material

A Centuries-Old Mathematical Puzzle May Finally Have an Answer

As kids, we are taught about the existence of prime numbers: numbers that are only divisible by themselves and one. The first few are easy to recognize just by counting: two, three, five… But the larger the counting goes, the less obvious the prime. The ability to predict where the prime numbers lay on the number line has haunted mathematicians and scientists for centuries, but … Continue reading A Centuries-Old Mathematical Puzzle May Finally Have an Answer