Conductors vs. Insulators: A Quantum Perspective

Electricity is created by electrons flowing through materials. Materials that allow electrons to travel through, like copper wires, are called conductors, whereas materials that inhibit electron flow, like rubber, are called insulators. However, the models behind our understanding have been incomplete. To understand which materials permit electron movement, scientists have investigated the patterns of electron motion in materials. Electrons do not behave like macroscopic objects. … Continue reading Conductors vs. Insulators: A Quantum Perspective

‘Ant bridge’-inspired nanoparticle assembly fixes broken electrical circuits

Colonies of social insects are capable of self-organizing and accomplishing complex tasks through individual interactions. For example, to march across large gaps, ants grip the bodies of each other, forming a living bridge that allows the colonies to reach the other side. Inspired by this swarm behavior of ants, scientists from the Chinese University of Hong Kong developed a nanoparticle self-assembly system that can fix … Continue reading ‘Ant bridge’-inspired nanoparticle assembly fixes broken electrical circuits

No, It’s Not Just You: Why time “speeds up” as we get older

How a clock measures time and how you perceive it are quite different. As we grow older, it can often feel like time goes by faster and faster. This speeding up of subjective time with age is well documented by psychologists, but there is no consensus on the cause. In a paper published this month, Professor Adrian Bejan presents an argument based on the physics … Continue reading No, It’s Not Just You: Why time “speeds up” as we get older

Journey to the Center of the Proton: Using Supercomputers to Probe The Pieces of the Atom

Pressure is felt as the force exerted on bodies when they are submerged in a material; you’ve felt it as you dive to the bottom of the pool and when you uncork a bottle. Recently, scientists have measured the pressure within a proton, a particle that comprises the atom.  Protons are made of fundamental particles called ‘quarks’ and ‘gluons‘ which are constantly bumping together creating … Continue reading Journey to the Center of the Proton: Using Supercomputers to Probe The Pieces of the Atom

Digging through history: Theorists use old LHC data to search for new particles

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva, Switzerland, is the largest and most energetic particle collider in the world. Since it was activated in 2008, it has collided nearly a quadrillion protons. When particles collide they shatter, annihilate, and completely reorganize into a firework of new particles flying out in all directions, producing hundreds of millions of gigabytes of data. Physicists have used this data … Continue reading Digging through history: Theorists use old LHC data to search for new particles

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

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

How to Keep Electronics Warm in Space? Use Hot Wax

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