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Physics

Usain Bolt leaves the pack in his dust while setting a new world record for the 200-meter ...

Usain Bolt is often described as the world's fastest man. The reigning Olympic champion in the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints as well as a member of the Olympic champion 4x100 meter relay team, Bolt is the first man to win six Olympic gold medals in sprinting, and is a five-time world champion. Long and lanky at 6 ft 5 in tall, he towers above the (mostly) much shorter sprinters. How has he managed to come out on top for the past five years? A team of physicists from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) has analyzed Bolt's past performances in the 100-meter sprint to understand what makes a record-breaker.  Read More

The Last Ride of the Pony Express - painted by  George M. Ottinger in 1873 - showing a Pon...

After linking the world for 167 years, the commercial electric telegraph is no more. The speed with which electromagnetic telegraph systems took over both short- and long-distance communication in the mid 19th century set the pattern which telephones and the internet would follow, spawning the connected world we now live in. The closing down of India's state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam, Ltd. (BSNL) network on Monday sparked a last-minute rush of people looking to send a souvenir telegram to mark the historic event before the electric telegraph was relegated to the history books.  Read More

Quantum physicists appear to be as confused about quantum mechanics as the average man in ...

An invitation-only conference held back in 2011 on the topic "Quantum Physics and the Nature of Reality" (QPNR) saw top physicists, mathematicians, and philosophers of science specializing in the meaning and interpretation of quantum mechanics wrangling over an array of fundamental issues. An interesting aspect of the gathering was that when informally polled on the main issues and open problems in the foundations of quantum mechanics, the results showed that the scientific community still has no clear consensus concerning the basic nature of quantum physics.  Read More

The speed of entanglement dynamics is at least 10,000 times faster than light according to...

Quantum entanglement, one of the odder aspects of quantum theory, links the properties of particles even when they are separated by large distances. When a property of one of a pair of entangled particles is measured, the other "immediately" settles down into a state compatible with that measurement. So how fast is "immediately"? According to research by Prof. Juan Yin and colleagues at the University of Science and Technology of China in Shanghai, the lower limit to the speed associated with entanglement dynamics – or "spooky action at a distance" – is at least 10,000 times faster than light.  Read More

When a paddle tries to return a supersonic ping-pong ball -- the paddle loses! (Photo: Mar...

The fastest serve ever recorded by a ping-pong player moved at about 70 mph (113 km/h). Professor Mark French of Purdue University's Mechanical Engineering Technology department and his graduate students, Craig Zehrung and Jim Stratton, have built an air gun for classroom demonstrations that fires a ping-pong ball at over Mach 1.2 (900 mph or 1,448 km/h). As the picture above shows, that's fast enough for the hollow celluloid balls to blow a hole through a standard paddle.  Read More

A proton-lead nucleus collision (Image: CERN)

In September, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was being tuned to enable it to study proton-lead nucleus collisions for a data run next year. Eventually it ran and data was collected on the collisions for a period of four hours. When the data was analyzed, it revealed that some particle pairs produced in the collision were traveling in the same direction – a highly unusual situation. Although the data is not sufficient for certainty, the consensus appears to favor this as evidence for production of a color-glass condensate, a new form of exotic matter that has so far only existed as a theory.  Read More

This simple jumping robot designed by Georgia Tech Grad Student Jeffrey Aguilar performed ...

Researchers at the Georgia Tech School of Physics say they have developed a novel jumping strategy for hopping robots that reduces power consumption. Associate Professor Daniel Goldman and Graduate Student Jeffrey Aguilar analyzed almost 20,000 jumps made by a simple robot designed to test jumping dynamics and discovered that a so-called "stutter jump" – where a robot builds up momentum by first making smaller hops before a big jump – requires a tenth of the power normally expended when performing the bigger jump from scratch.  Read More

A Slower Speed of Light

A bite-sized computer game exploring the effects of Einstein's special theory of relativity is the first output from the MIT Game Lab made available online. In A Slower Speed of Light, the player navigates a seemingly rudimentary 3D environment with the goal of collecting 100 orbs. Thing is, each orb slows down the speed of light until, by the 90th or so orb, it has slowed almost to walking pace. The slower light travels, the trippier the effects, and the more taxing the game becomes.  Read More

Zoomed-in image of barred spiral galaxy NGC 1365, around 60 million light years from Earth...

The Dark Energy Camera (DEC) has captured an initial batch of images as part of an ongoing quest to afford scientists with a better understanding of dark energy. The images were taken by the 570-megapixel behemoth from its location within the Chilean Andes on September 12 while undergoing a series of tests. Scientists hope it may soon help answer one of the biggest mysteries in physics: why the expansion of the universe is speeding up.  Read More

High-energy particle collision similar to those which may be giving us a glimpse of a new ...

In the mid-1930s, physicists thought they knew all the subatomic particles of nature - the proton, neutron, and electron of the atom. However, in 1936 the muon was discovered - a new particle having such surprising properties that Nobel laureate I.I. Rabi quipped "Who ordered that?" when informed of the discovery. Evidence that a new light boson may exist has recently been published. If the discovery is confirmed, such a boson is not part of the Standard Model of Particle Physics - potentially leading to another "Who ordered that?" moment for physicists.  Read More

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