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Artist's impression of a major impact event.Fredrik via Wikimedia commonsRights information: http://bit.ly/1jbtszLAsteroid and comet impacts could have created refuges for early life on Earth, protecting the first microorganisms from the sun’s harsh rays when the planet still lacked an ozone shield. “Most people associate impacts with the extinction of the dinosaurs, but they can also be beneficial to life,” said Gordon Osinski, a geologist at the University of Western […]
This week on the Physics Central Podcast, I talk with physicist Dan Stamper-Kurn about making the smallest measurement of a force ever recorded. He and his group (including lead author Sydney Schreppler) applied a force to a cloud of 1200 atoms, using a laser. Their measurement came out to 40 yoctonewtons: that's 40 x 10-24 newtons (if you drop an apple from a third story window, it hits the ground with about 1 newton of force).The reason this measurement is significant is […]
Last week I took an Amtrak train south for the holiday weekend, and there was a delay. The explanation: the track was under a 'heat advisory' and the train had to travel at a slower speed. This left me wondering what happened to the tracks when it got so hot outside - and why they couldn't travel at speed.An Amtrak passenger train. Image Credit: modified from Massachusetts Office of Transportation on Flickr.Most railroad tracks are metal and when (most) metal heats, it expands. As the […]
There's been a lot of buzz lately about a therapeutic and augmentative procedure called tDCS, with promising results. tDCS may not only aid in the treatment of conditions such as depression and anxiety, but it also may be a quick, non-invasive way to improve focus, learn skills faster, and remember facts more easily while studying.If you're wondering why you haven't heard of this miracle technology yet, it's because of what tDCS stands for: Trans-cranial Direct Current Stimulation. In layman […]
Image: Princeton PressIn Katherine Freese's new book The Cosmic Cocktail: Three Parts Dark Matter, she traces the history of dark matter and her career as an astrophysicist navigating through it.For the last few years, she's been developing her theory of dark stars, giant primordial stars powered by dark matter annihilations, which she talks about in this week's podcast. Most recently she and her fellow researchers have been probing whether they are not only bright and gigantic, but also if […]
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