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On Tuesday the "storm of the century" rolled through the northeast of the United States and despite it not living up to the doom and gloom predictions, many places, including here in DC, received a decent amount of snow and ice.While walking through my local winter wonderland, I made a few observations which unsurprisingly all come back to physics. Here are three physics phenomena from snow and ice.1. Ice is slipperyThis seems an exceedingly obvious place to start, but it turns out the […]
Mercury has a big month coming up, with the 40th anniversary of Mariner 10's final flyby on March 16th and the planned conclusion of the MESSENGER mission a couple of weeks later. To date, these are the only two spacecraft to have visited the innermost planet in our solar system, largely because it's fiendishly difficult to get there and operate in orbit so close to the Sun. Nevertheless, Mercury remains an exciting destination for planetary exploration, holding clues to the […]
The one person who really looks bad in the whole DeflateGate scandal is Bill Nye. No matter how you feel about Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and the Patriots, one good thing that has come out of the DeflateGate scandal has been a national discussion of the ideal gas law, thermodynamics, and air pressure. When is the last time you heard anybody outside a high school or college science class bring up PV=nRT?And people aren't just discussing it, they're passionately arguing it, doing […]
Astronomers are building a global collaboration to identify recently discovered radio blips seemingly originating from deep space. Called "fast radio bursts," or FRBs for short, these enigmatic cosmic signals have so far confounded astronomers, and are the subject of a growing effort to track and observe them.An artist's rendition of the Parkes telescope observing a cosmic radio signal.Image: Swinburne Astronomy Productions.A lot of questions surround the origins of these strange signals, […]
Unfortunate news out of Pittsburgh this week. The nearly 80-year-old, long defunct Westinghouse Atom Smasher has been toppled.The felled Atom Smasher in Forest Hills, Penn.Image: WTAE PittsburghThe five-story steel bulb was the first industrial particle accelerator ever built, and was the most powerful in the world when it was completed in 1937. Its unusual bulb shape is because it is an old Van de Graaff style electrostatic accelerator. The steel dome would build up a huge electrical charge, […]
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