Headlines 

Something’s Off With the Turbolaser Shots in The Last Jedi

I have a problem: I can't stop analyzing Star Wars movies. On top of that, there is another issue. I've stated that the physics of a movie doesn't have to be absolutely correct—and I still believe that. And now, I am going to complain about some physics in Star Wars: The Last Jedi even though I said you shouldn't. But first, let me give you a couple of examples of bad physics that doesn't bother me. Consider an x-wing fighter flying near the Death Star. When the x-wing makes a…

Read More
Headlines 

Troubled Times for Alternatives to Einsteins Theory of Gravity

Miguel Zumalacárregui knows what it feels like when theories die. In September 2017, he was at the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Saclay, near Paris, to speak at a meeting about dark energy and modified gravity. The official news had not yet broken about an epochal astronomical measurement—the detection, by gravitational wave detectors as well as many other telescopes, of a collision between two neutron stars—but a controversial tweet had lit a firestorm of rumor in the astronomical community, and excited researchers were discussing the discovery in hushed tones. A…

Read More
Headlines 

Figure Out Where You Are With Nothing But a Watch and Protractor

In a recent episode of MacGyver, Angus (yes, that's his first name) finds his location in the desert using only a string, a protractor, and a watch. Is this actually possible? Basically, yes. (At least that's what I told the show-runners as the technical consultant for the show.) But you can do this, too. So now, for your super basic introduction to navigating the world. And don't worry—this won't be a full blown semester course on navigation, it's just the basics. Longitude If you want to find out where you…

Read More
Odds and Ends 

Dont keep cell phones next to your body, California Health Department warns

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a warning against the hazards of cellphone radiation this week. Yes, the thing we are all addicted to and can’t seem to put down is leaking electromagnetic radiation and now California has some guidance to safeguard the public. The CDPH asks people to decrease their use of these devices and suggests keeping your distance when possible. “Although the science is still evolving, there are concerns among some public health professionals and members of the public regarding long-term, high use exposure to the…

Read More
Headlines 

In search of the neutrino, ghost particle of the universe

A huge, extraordinary machine will soon begin to study an elusive particle in a bid to reveal some of the deep secrets of the cosmos On the outskirts of Karlsruhe, in south-west Germany, engineers have buried a giant, stainless steel device, bigger than a blue whale, inside the towns institute of technology. The machine looks for all the world like a grounded zeppelin or a buried blimp. In fact, the apparatus is one of the worlds biggest vacuum chambers. Air pressure inside it is lower than that on the surface…

Read More
Headlines 

Nobel prize in physics awarded for discovery of gravitational waves

825,000 prize awarded to Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish and Kip Thorne for their work on Ligo experiment which was able to detect ripples in the fabric of spacetime Three American physicists have won the Nobel prize in physics for the first observations of gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of spacetime that were anticipated by gravitational waves triggered by the violent merger of two black holes a billion light years away. Prof Olga Botner, a member of the Nobel committee for physics, described this as a discovery that shook the…

Read More
Headlines 

We are all made of stars: half our bodies’ atoms ‘formed beyond the Milky Way’

Simulations reveal that up to half the material in our galaxy arrived from smaller galactic neighbours, as a result of powerful supernova explosions Nearly half of the atoms that make up our bodies may have formed beyond the Milky Way and travelled to the solar system on intergalactic winds driven by giant exploding stars, astronomers claim. The dramatic conclusion emerges from computer simulations that reveal how galaxies grow over aeons by absorbing huge amounts of material that is blasted out of neighbouring galaxies when stars explode at the end of…

Read More