The science behind an MRI
Today I had an MRI, don’t worry it was for research purposes. It wasn’t a short MRI either, I was in the bore for almost two hours. Yep, stuck in a tube with nothing but my thoughts, some music, and the sounds of the MRI machine doing its thing. I figure we can discuss what an MRI is, why I had one, and why I don’t mind that it took so long. I may even show off some of the scans, but not today I don’t have them yet.(more…)
Physicists retrieve ‘lost’ information from quantum measurements
Typically when scientists make a measurement, they know exactly what kind of measurement they’re making, and their purpose is to obtain a measurement outcome. But in an “unrecorded measurement,” both the type of measurement and the measurement outcome are unknown.
Are humans the new supercomputer?
As a society we have become incredibly reliant on technology, from spell check to GPS, we are slowly being replaced by computers. Need more proof, a computer can routinely beat us at chess, an AI wrote portions of a book that went on to almost win a writing contest, and if you want scary robotics enter Boston dynamics spot. So the question is, have we outlived our place in the world? Not quite. Welcome to the front line of research in cognitive skills, quantum computers and gaming.
So, our immune cells don’t see some carbon nano invaders…
Scientists at the University of Michigan have found evidence that some carbon nanomaterials can enter into immune cell membranes, seemingly going undetected by the cell’s built-in mechanisms for engulfing and disposing of foreign material, and then escape through some unidentified pathway.
Stereotype means girls should expect poorer physics grades
Imagine that you are a female student and give the exact same answer to a physics exam question as one of your male classmates, but you receive a significantly poorer grade. This is precisely what happens on a regular basis, as concluded in a study by Sarah Hofer, a researcher in the group led by ETH professor Elsbeth Stern.
‘Hydricity’ concept uses solar energy to produce power round-the-clock… really?
Researchers are proposing a new “hydricity” concept aimed at creating a sustainable economy by not only generating electricity with solar energy but also producing and storing hydrogen from superheated water for round-the-clock power production.
Physicists show ‘molecules’ made of light may be possible
It’s not lightsaber time… at least not yet. But a team including theoretical physicists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has taken another step toward building objects out of photons, and the findings* hint that weightless particles of light can be joined into a sort of “molecule” with its own peculiar force.
Drawing a line between quantum and classical world
Quantum theory is one of the great achievements of 20th century science, yet physicists have struggled to find a clear boundary between our everyday world and what Albert Einstein called the “spooky” features of the quantum world, including cats that could be both alive and dead, and photons that can communicate with each other across space instantaneously.
Dead galaxies in Coma Cluster may be packed with dark matter
Galaxies in a cluster roughly 300 million light years from Earth could contain as much as 100 times more dark matter than visible matter, according to an Australian study. The research, published today, used powerful computer simulations to study galaxies that have fallen into the Coma Cluster, one of the largest structures in the Universe in which thousands of galaxies are bound together by gravity.
Freezing single atoms to absolute zero with microwaves brings quantum technology closer
Physicists at the University of Sussex have found a way of using everyday technology found in kitchen microwaves and mobile telephones to bring quantum physics closer to helping solve enormous scientific problems that the most powerful of today’s supercomputers cannot even begin to embark upon.
Tiny grains of lithium dramatically improve performance of fusion plasma
While fusion might still be a far off dream, a new discovery may help bring that dream closer to reality. Scientists have discovered a phenomenon that helps them to improve fusion plasmas, a finding that could quicken the development of large scale fusion energy. The scientists found that when they injected tiny grains of lithium into a plasma undergoing a particular kind of turbulence then, under the right conditions, the temperature and pressure rose dramatically.
The universe is expanding, but how fast?
We are expanding, well more accurately the universe is expanding. However researchers have found certain types of supernovae, or exploding stars, are more diverse than previously thought. The results have implications for big cosmological questions, such as how fast the universe has been expanding since the Big Bang. Most importantly, the findings hint at the possibility that the acceleration of the expansion of the universe might not be quite as fast as textbooks say.
Interstellar helps physicists research spinning black holes
There is a saying that life imitates art and while people like to disagree with the meaning of it, sometimes art can imitate life. For instance the team responsible for the Oscar-nominated visual effects at the centre of Interstellar, have turned science fiction into science fact by providing new insights into the powerful effects of black holes.
New theory tries to define where black holes don’t exist
The quintessential feature of a black hole is its “point of no return,” or what is more technically called its event horizon, yes just like the movie. When anything—a star, a particle, or wayward human—crosses this horizon, the black hole’s massive gravity pulls it in with such force that it is impossible to escape. At least, this is what happens in traditional black hole models based on general relativity. In general, the existence of this event horizon is responsible for most of the strange phenomena associated with black holes.
Dude, wheres my Hover Car? Oh wait…
We all (of a certain age) remember the Jetsons, a futuristic family with hi-tech gadgets and gizmos. However, nothing said, “the future is here” quite like things hovering. Even in the movie Back to the future, they have hover boards and flying cars. Unfortunately we don’t, which is a shame because according to the 1950’s we are the future, we should have hover-cars and hover boards… well the wait is over. Yep, introducing the first real hover board!
Solar Panel Hybrid is Cheap and Super Efficient
Solar cells are inefficient, it’s a sad fact. With todays technology they boast about a 10-15% efficiency, compare that to todays gas engine at roughly 20-25% and you can see it’s not quite up to par. Well that could all change very soon thanks to a new method for transferring energy from organic to inorganic semiconductors. This could boost the efficiency of widely used inorganic solar cells to as close as 100% efficiency as they can get.
Are Black Holes just in Our Imagination?!
Black holes, physicists have been fighting over them forever, heck there is even a book entitled the black hole war! (which I do recommend for anyone interested) It’s no real surprise since they are the ultimate unknown – the blackest and most dense objects in the universe that do not even let light escape. And as if they weren’t bizarre enough to begin with, now add this to the mix: they don’t exist.
The Holographic Universe [we might Live in!]
Are you feeling a little… flat? Well that might be because you are only in 2 dimensions. I know what you’re thinking, insane! Well first check the name of the business and second, check out the science. In fact, it may seem like a joke, but the math suggests that it could very well be true and with it could come a deeper understanding of the universe. Testing this hypothesis (which was first made in the late 90’s) has been harder to do than you might think, but that has now changed. We are officially checking to see if our universe is a hologram!
Voyager has hit interstellar space…. maybe?
Poor Voyager, he just can’t catch a break. We’ve said it’s hit interstellar space more times than we want to admit and in 2012, the Voyager mission team announced that the Voyager 1 spacecraft had passed into interstellar space [confirmed late 2013], traveling further from Earth than any other man-made object.
Optical Cables, from Thin Air!
It’s a project that would make Tesla proud. Just imagine being able to instantaneously run an optical cable or fiber to any point on earth, or even into space. That’s what researchers are trying to do. Did I mention it was instantaneous and involved no connection other than the air around us? Well if you are as excited as I am, then you should read on! If not, two words, laser weapons!!
Tofu and Solar Cells: An unlikely pairing
Solar cells, they’re kind of a big deal. Good for the environment, produce power from that big ball of burning gas we call our sun, they like long walks on the beach, cool drinks and just chilling with friends… oh sorry that’s from the wife swap [the wife and I love that show]. But in all seriousness, solar is the next oil. We had an industrial revolution and now we are going to have a more eco-friendly kind of revolution. Of course the high price of solar panels has made it all but inaccessible to the general public [I know I would love to have some on my roof!]. With natural gas and other sources of power being cheaper, solar needs to learn a few new tricks to keep up. Thankfully that is exactly what scientists at the University of Liverpool have accomplished.
Right now solar cells are inefficient at about 15% of the power actually converted to usable electricity. It is unfortunate then that solar cells need to be coated in a cadmium chloride to reach that paltry efficiency. I’ll let you in on a little secret, if it wasn’t for that coating we would only see about a 2% power conversion. Yeah damned if you do damned if you don’t stuff. That’s because that coating is roughly $0.30 a gram, doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up quick. Not to mention that there is a little problem with it being very toxic, incredibly hard to handle safely and hard to dispose of after solar cell decommission [I know… details, details].
The Love Song of Philo T. Farnsworth
Philo Farnsworth, if the name sounds vaguely familiar than you might just be a Futurama watcher. If you don’t watch and know who I’m talking about or even better are a fan then, “YAY!” and for those of you who don’t know, don’t sweat it you’re not alone. One of the forgotten greats, Farnsworth should be a household name, namely because one of his biggest inventions is in practically every home.
Did you guess it yet? If you said Television, then you are correct!! [If you didn’t, but wish you had, then good enough!] Philo Farnsworth wasn’t necessarily a genius, he didn’t escape the holocaust like Einstein, nor did he make millions from his inventions like you might expect. In fact, Farnsworth lead– by all accounts — a fairly unassuming life. Interesting when find out that not only did he invent the modern television, but he did it at the ripe old age of 14 years old. No, not 41 that wasn’t a mistype, he was 14 years old.
5 Reasons Why Science is Losing the War
Science is losing an unseen war and like any war it isn’t without its casualties. The true body count won’t be evident, not at first. This isn’t a war over land, or freedoms, it is a war on ignorance, a fight for the future. Science has brought us a level of comfort and connectivity we have never really seen. Unfortunately that connectivity is being used against us, allowing people with dubious motives to shout from the rooftops bold faced lies and a call for people to follow.
Quantum Gravity Coming Soon… Maybe.
Don’t like quantum mechanics? Don’t worry Einstein didn’t either. In fact, not only did Einstein not like quantum mechanics, neither did his general theory of relativity. Which was okay… sort of. Quantum mechanics involves things that are really small, while relativity dealt with things that are really large and never the two shall meet, that is, until they do.
It’s not Einsteins fault that the two theories don’t play well together. They are both mathematical formulas, there is no malice involved. Einsteins world was beautiful and solid, he wanted to use math to form a world made of granite, smooth, shiny and perfect. Quantum mechanics on the other hand is uncertain, that is a fundamental principle, it’s more like wood, it’s not pretty, rough and textured.
Alzheimer’s? Forget about it!
Let’s face it, diseases that affect the brain are some of the hardest to deal with. Anyone who’s lost someone to alzheimer’s knows exactly what I am talking about. Looking at someone you love and watching them slip away without any visible difference can be heart wrenching!
However, there is a new hope! Physicists [of all things] from Michigan State University published an article in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, that might make alzheimers and associated diseases a thing of the past.
The Future of Fusion Funding
Fusion, the promise of clean, renewable energy has been so powerful that scientists have been chasing the dream for roughly 50 years now. Since the birth of atomic energy and the realization of the immense power hidden hidden in the atom, commercial fusion energy has always been 20 years away.
In one of the most ambitious fusion projects global leaders came together to construct the world’s largest fusion plant– ITER [International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor], in the hopes that scaling the technology to a larger size will be key in producing a fusion reaction that creates more energy than it takes to sustain the reaction.
Physics for children – Atom smashing!
Here at Loony Labs, we have lots of friends to help us understand physics! So with that, I am happy to introduce my friend Atom.
Neutrinos have a weight problem
There have been some unfortunate problems with the Standard Model of Cosmology. These problems came from the fact that the neutrinos mass was never accurately measured. Thanks to some new observations, we now have managed to [hopefully] find the mass of a neutrino for the first time.
The study I am referring to was completed by Richard Battye and Adam Moss. It was recently published in Physical Review Letters. Using the Planck satellite, which was launched in 2009, scientists have been able to observe directional dependent aspects of the Cosmic Microwave Background [CMB].
Indecisive? So is Quantum Mechanics.A atom walks into a bar. Bartender says ‘What will you have?’ The atom says ‘I’m uncertain’.
Or my personal favorite Heisenberg gets pulled over by a police officer, officer says ‘Do you have any idea how fast you were going?’ Heisenberg replies ‘No, but I know EXACTLY where I am.’