by Ryan McGillicuddy figures by Sean Wilson When I think of the challenges associated with exploring space, I usually think of explosive rockets, speeding meteorites, deadly radiation, and the empty vacuum of space. Admittedly, my first worry about space is not the freezing temperatures. But in reality, temperature control in space is a challenge that NASA constantly faces. For example, the sun-facing side of the … Continue reading How to Keep Electronics Warm in Space? Use Hot Wax
by Daniel Ang figures by Aparna Nathan Particle physics says that the universe shouldn’t exist. This is a radical claim! But if the current theories that underlie particle physics are correct and complete, then the Big Bang that birthed the universe would have simply resulted in a massive flash of light. Nothing else would remain – no stars, planets or galaxies. And neither you nor … Continue reading The Frustrating Search for New Physics
Antibiotics, while life-saving, can also wreak havoc on healthy systems. The drugs work by attacking the protein-synthesizing center (ribosomes) in bacteria. When the ribosomes in human cells are mistaken for bacterial ribosomes, antibiotics can cause a range of side effects from nausea to kidney failure. To understand what conditions cause healthy cells to be attacked, scientists are implementing novel imagining techniques to study interactions between … Continue reading Biologists and Physicists Work Together to Image Subcellular Interactions Like Never Before
Europium and terbium are two rare earth elements that share a colorful similarity: they emit bright red and green light, respectively, when exposed to ultraviolet light. In the image above, there are five thin polymer films embedded with different concentrations of europium and terbium. The far-left film contains primarily terbium, hence the bright green light, while the far-right film contains primarily the red light-emitting europium. … Continue reading In a Ghostly Mirror Rainbow
After a new star is born, the surrounding gas and dust flattens out into a rotating disk. Some of that matter will condense, eventually forming the planets that circle the star. Unfortunately, it is challenging to watch the formation of a new planet. Light from the star tends to drown out light from the planet. Astronomers have only been able to spot planet-like-objects in these … Continue reading It’s a planet! Scientists find newborn planet for the first time
Typically, if you want to understand the foundation of something, building from the ground up sounds like a sensible approach. However, researchers in Dr. Ni’s group at Harvard have taken this idea a step further by building molecules one atom at a time. The group’s goal is to better understand the minimal requirements and exact properties of chemical reactions. For comparison, while every chemistry class … Continue reading Building the Smallest Chemical Beaker
by Katherine J. Wu In space, no one would hear you scream. But make a quick detour down to the surface of Venus, and all bets are off. Because even if you scream on another planet with no one else around to hear it, you’ll certainly make a sound – just not quite the one you’d make on Earth. And with that cliffhanger, let’s tap … Continue reading You Asked: If you were able to talk on another planet, how would you sound?
Since the first exoplanet discovery in the 1990s, scientists have learned of the diverse and abundant nature of exoplanets, having now found more than 3700. With such a large and disparate sample set, ESA (European Space Agency) has set its sights on learning how these planets form and what their chemistry is like. A new telescope, or ‘mission’, ARIEL (Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey), has … Continue reading ARIEL: Exploring strange new worlds and boldly observing what no telescope has observed before.
Move aside Harry Potter, science has invisibility cloaks too. The non-magical version was inspired by polar bear fur and works by having, excellent thermal insulating properties. Polar bear hair has a hollow core which effectively prevents the infrared emission, or heat signature, of the polar bear from escaping the fur. This helps the bear retain its heat and stay warm. Because of this efficient reflection of … Continue reading Scientists make a polar bear-inspired invisibility cloak
by George Touloumes figures by Brad Wierbowski Would you ever consider eating meat that was grown in a lab instead of raised on a farm? What if it were both healthier and more sustainable than conventional meat? Silicon Valley venture capital firms and major meat companies like Tyson Foods are now investing tens of millions of dollars in bioengineering research to produce exactly that kind … Continue reading Making Steak out of Spinach: How bioengineering could change meat production