Physics

Dark matter link to regular matter’s dominance fails to show up

Enlarge / Given how messy a typical physics lab is, CERN is just as likely to lose the antimatter it intends to store. Maximilien Brice, Julien Ordan/CERN Matter, despite being omnipresent here on Earth, is a bit of a mystery. Most of the matter in the Universe comes in the form of dark matter, which …

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Physicists capture first footage of quantum knots unraveling in superfluid

Enlarge / Researchers captured the decay of a quantum knot (left), which untied itself after a few microseconds and eventually turned into a spin vortex (right). Tuomas Ollikainen/Aalto University The same team who tied the first “quantum knots” in a superfluid several years ago have now discovered that the knots decay, or “untie” themselves, fairly …

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American whiskeys leave behind a web-like “fingerprint” as they evaporate

Courtesy University of Louisville. It’s possible to tell the difference between an American whiskey and other whiskeys just by studying the residual patterns left behind by the American variety as it evaporates, according to a new paper in Physical Review Fluids. Liquors like Scotch whisky, moonshine, and Irish whiskeys don’t leave these telltale patterns, or “whiskey …

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Study: Ants are “immune” to traffic jams

Enlarge / Black ants marching along the stem of a leaf. Unlike humans, ants don’t experience traffic jams, even at high densities. Bosca78/Getty Images Ants are notoriously much better than humans at organizing their collective traffic flow when foraging for food, but how they manage to do so isn’t fully understood. Even in dense, crowded …

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Nobel in physics is a two-fer: Big Bang and exoplanets

Enlarge NASA Today’s Nobel Prize in physics was evenly split between two discoveries and, thus, unevenly split among the three honored. Typically when this happens, the two discoveries are at least somewhat related; that doesn’t seem to be the case here, as the Prize Committee has recognized James Peebles for his contributions to theoretical cosmology …

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In How To: XKCD author offers absurd advice for ordinary tasks

Talking about Saturn Vs at on stage at a NASA facility is always appropriate—here’s XKCD creator Randall Munroe doing just that in 2015. Lee Hutchinson Any time physicists gets together, one of them will tell a very old joke about a farmer who wants to make their farm more efficient. In the joke, a list …

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Weighing in: Physicists cut upper limit on neutrino’s mass in half

Enlarge / The spectrometer for the KATRIN experiment, as it works its way through the German town of Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen in 2006 en route to the nearby Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. Karlsruhe Institute of Technology Isaac Asimov dubbed neutrinos “ghost particles.” John Updike immortalized them in verse. They’ve been the subject of several Nobel Prize citations, …

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Cubed wombat poop, why your left nut runs hot, among Ig Nobel winners

Enlarge / A “Moment of Science” in the 2017 Ig Nobel ceremony: Daniel Davis faces a Tesla coil. Mike Binveniste/Improbable Research Over the years, curious intrepid scientists have gleaned insight into why the wombat’s poo is cube-shaped, explored the magnetic properties of living and dead cockroaches, and determined that a man’s left testicle really does …

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Physicists discover hidden text in what was thought to be blank Egyptian papyri

Enlarge / Physicists at the BESSY-II synchrotron radiation facility in Germany used multiple methods to reveal hidden text in supposedly blank patches on ancient papyri from Elephantine Island in Egypt. Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin A team of German scientists has used a combination of cutting-edge physics techniques to virtually “unfold” an ancient Egyptian papyrus, part of an …

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Novel “invisibility cloaks” for water waves leave no telltale wakes or drag

Enlarge / Hydrodynamic “invisibility cloaks” would hide objects from fluid flows and surface waves so that no wake is visible. J. Park et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. (2019) Two separate teams of scientists have devised novel hydrodynamic “invisibility cloaks”—instead of shielding objects from light, the cloaks would shield them from fluid flows. The scientists described …

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