Physics

World’s smallest stop-motion film made with individual atoms

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 1, 2013   View Article

Scientists at IBM have just unveiled the world’s smallest stop-motion film — certified by Guinness — one made by moving individual atoms. What you’re seeing is 100 million times bigger than the original elements.

For Star Trek fans, the team also unveiled several franchise-inspired images made with atoms, including the USS Enterprise, the famous logo and the “live long and prosper” sign.

Why? To prove that they can and in the process show off the fun side of science, according to Andreas Heinrich, a principal investigator at IBM Research in California who led the effort.

Supersonic Ping-Pong gun fires balls at Mach 1.2

Publication: NBC News   Date: January 28, 2013   View Article

Few things capture the attention of physics students like a gun that fires Ping-Pong balls, according to a mechanical engineer who just built one that accelerates the balls to supersonic speeds.

“You can shoot Ping-Pong balls through pop cans and it is great, it is so captivating, it is so compelling that you can get kids’ attention and once you’ve got their attention, you can teach them something,”Mark French, the Purdue University assistant professor who built the gun, told NBC News.

Code-cracking quantum computers leap closer to reality

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: February 28, 2012   View Article

Real-world computers that can speedily crack even the most secure codes are within grasp thanks to recent advances that will allow for so-called fault-tolerant quantum computers, according to an expert in the field.

Quantum computers differ from classical, or regular, computers at the most basic unit of information. In classical computing, the basic unit of information is a bit: either a 1 or 0.

An invisibility cloak for earthquakes? It’s possible

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: February 16, 2012   View Article

For several years, scientists have worked on real-world invisibility cloaks akin to the one that shields boy wizard Harry Potter from light waves. While that’s neat-o and all, a research group in Potter’s homeland thinks a similar trick can protect buildings from earthquakes.

The group, led by mathematician William Parnell at the University of Manchester, has shown that cloaking components or structures in pressurized rubber would make them invisible to the powerful waves produced during a temblor.

Unknown “Structures” Not Tugging on the Universe After All?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: January 20, 2012   View Article

Mysterious, unseen structures on the outskirts of creation most likely aren’t tugging on our universe, according to a new study. The paper reexamines “dark flow”— an unusual, one-way motion of matter —using measurements of supernovae and the existing laws of physics.

In 2008, a team of scientists took measurements of hundreds of galaxy clusters and calculated that everything in the visible universe—and likely beyond—is flowing at 2 million miles (3.2 million kilometers) an hour in the same direction.

The data couldn’t be explained by the distribution of matter in the known universe, so the scientists suggested that chunks of matter had been pushed out shortly after the big bang, and their gravity is now pulling on everything around us.

Four-atom-wide wire may herald tiny computers

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: January 10, 2012   View Article

A wire that is just four atoms wide and one atom tall, yet works just as well as the ordinary copper wires running behind your wall, was recently created by an international team of scientists.

The breakthrough brings closer to reality a future where computers smaller than a pinhead are faster and more powerful than some of today’s supercomputers, according to the researchers.

The why of water bouncing balls

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: October 27, 2011   View Article

Some balls bounce on water, and some do it better than others. The best in class is the trademarked Waboba, which stands for water bouncing ball. And now a team of mechanical engineers has figured out why the Waboba works so well.

The team led by Michael Wright at Brigham Young University’s Splash Lab in Provo, Utah, did this by attempting to skip three types of balls across the water, videotaping the activity, and analyzing the footage. Their results are posted on arXiv.org, including a video that explains it all.

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