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

Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer Solves Mystery of Pulsar 'Speed Limit'

by NASA Headquarters and

A pulsar draws material from its companion star.: Image Courtesy NASA Gravitational radiation, ripples in the fabric of space predicted by Albert Einstein, may serve as a cosmic traffic enforcer, protecting reckless pulsars from spinning too fast and blowing apart, according to a report published in the July 3 issue of Nature. Containing the mass of our Sun compressed into a sphere about 10 miles across, pulsars are the core remains of exploded stars. Pulsars are born spinning, but can gain speed by pulling in gas from a neighboring star, reaching spin rates of nearly one revolution per millisecond, or almost 20 percent the speed of light. Scientists have long wondered how these 'millisecond' pulsars keep from accelerating their spin rate and blowing apart. Thanks to observations using the Rossi Explorer, they now speculate that the cause is gravitational radiation.

'Nature has set a speed limit for pulsar spins,' said Prof. Deepto Chakrabarty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, lead author on the journal article. 'Just like cars speeding on a highway, the fastest-spinning pulsars could technically go twice as fast, but something stops them before they break apart. It may be gravitational radiation that prevents pulsars from destroying themselves.' The faster a pulsar spins, its spherical shape changes, developing distortions in its crust and allowing it to radiate gravitational waves. Eventually, the pulsar's spin rate balances out when the momentum lost in gravitational radiation is matched by momentum gained when gas is pulled in from the nearby star.

A short burst of X-ray light, emitted by a massive thermonuclear explosion on some pulsars' surface, serves as a direct measure of spin rate. Scientists have studied these 'burst oscillations' from 11 pulsars and have found none spinning faster than 619 times per second. From a statistical analysis of those pulsars, they concluded that pulsars must stay below 760 revolutions per second in order to stay intact. Gravitational radiation has not been directly detected just yet, but the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in Hanford, Wash., and in Livingston, La., are expected to make the detection and study of the relationship between pulsars and gravitational radiation much easier.

Carbon dating the bones of an animal can pinpoint the time this animal died to within a few years.
Carbon Dating From The Skies

Determining the age of relatively recent fossils, those of plants and animals that lived tens of thousands of years ago, is not a guessing game but an exact science. By using carbon dating we can dete ...
continue reading this fact
The artist
White Dwarfs

White dwarfs are among the dimmest stars in the universe. Even so, they have commanded the attention of astronomers ever since the first white dwarf was observed by optical telescopes in the middle of ...
continue reading this fact
This is an artist
Cosmos Provides Astronomers with Planet-Hunting Tool

If only astronomers had a giant magnifying glass in space, they might be able to uncover planets around other stars. Now they do -- sort of. Instead of magnifying a planet, astronomers used the magnif ...
continue reading this fact

Science Quote

'The difference between what the most and the least learned people know is inexpressibly trivial in relation to that which is unknown.'

Albert Einstein

All rights reserved. © Copyright '1995-'2016