Physics & Astronomy News

Soft robotic gripper picks up an egg.  

Courtesy of EPFL
Robotic Fingers with a Gentle Touch
EPFL Scientists have developed a new soft robotic gripper -- made out of rubber and stretchable electrodes -- that can bend and pick up delicate objects like eggs and paper, taking robotics to a whole new level.
In order to study abnormalities in electron state changes, the scientists applied a strong vertical magnetic field and then bombarded the system with microwave photons. 
Courtesy of OIST
Electrons and Liquid Helium
Research conducted by the OIST could represent an important step in understanding two-dimensional semiconductors. They found anomalies in the behavior of electrons in electrons on liquid helium two-dimensional system.

(Illustration) At solar maximum, in July 2014, the structure is complex, with closed and open field lines poking out all over – ideal conditions for solar explosions.
Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Bridgman
Understanding the Magnetic Sun
Brief overview of the sun's invisible magnetic field which is responsible for everything from the solar explosions that cause space weather on Earth – such as auroras – to the interplanetary magnetic field.
The switch is based on the voltage-induced displacement of one or more silver atoms in the narrow gap between a silver and a platinum plate. (Illustration: Alexandros Emboras / ETH Zurich)
Switching light with a silver atom
Researchers at ETH have created the world’s smallest integrated optical switch. Applying a small voltage causes an atom to relocate, turning the switch on or off.

Space-Time Continuum Rainbow
Physicists have shown that in models of the Universe using any of the quantum theories of gravity there must also be a 'rainbow' of sorts, composed of different versions of spacetime.
New Theory of Secondary Inflation
Physicists suggest a smaller secondary inflationary period in the moments after the Big Bang could account for the abundance of the mysterious matter.
A new way to store solar heat
Material could harvest sunlight by day, release heat on demand hours or days later.

Science Facts

The Strange Spin of Uranus

by Gene Mascoli and

The Eccentric Spin of Uranus: Image Courtesy NASA, Science@NASA Directional terms like north and south make sense here on Earth. The north and south axis of the Earth is relatively perpendicular to the plane of the Earth's orbit around the sun. Actually, Earth's axis of rotation is 23.5 degrees from the vertical. The variance from the vertical is what causes our seasons.

But imagine being on the planet Uranus. There you'd get really confused about north and south, because Uranus spins on its side. Its rotation is about 90 degrees off the vertical. This means that its polar axis points towards the horizon. But which axis? If it is spinning counterclockwise like Earth, we can easily fix one of the poles as the north pole. But most scientists think that it is actually spinning slightly less than 90 degrees. This would mean its rotation is retrograde, spinning clockwise. So actually we should be calling the south pole the north pole instead.

To make matters more interesting, Uranus' magnetic pole is not even close to its true pole. Scientists are split as to why Uranus rotates horizontally. A popular theory is that Uranus collided with a large planetary body in the early solar system that, in effect, knocked it on its side.

This photograph of the coil-shaped Helix Nebula is one of the largest and most detailed celestial images ever made.
A Ring Around a Dying Star

In November 2002, sky watchers were viewing the glow of meteors from the Leonid meteor shower burning up in Earth's atmosphere. They had been anticipating this celestial light show for months, expecti ...
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X-rays can be produced by a high-speed collision between an electron and a proton.
X-Rays - Another Form of Light

A new form of radiation was discovered in 1895 by Wilhelm Roentgen, a German physicist. He called it X-radiation to denote its unknown nature. This mysterious radiation had the ability to pass through ...
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The diagram at right shows the changes in the rate of expansion since the universe
Dark Energy Changes the Universe

Dark energy has the cosmoslogists scratching their heads. Observations taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and future space telescopes will be needed in order to determine the properties of dark en ...
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Science Quote

'Our loyalties are to the species and the planet. We speak for Earth. Our obligation to survive is owed not just to ourselves but also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring.'

Carl Sagan

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