Applied Physics

Researchers can argue about the accuracy of old thermometers and how to pick the datapoints of numerical models, but radio waves can help clear some things up.

The ionosphere, one of the regions of the upper atmosphere ionized by solar radiation, is used for the transmission of long-wave communications, like radio waves. And it turns out that radio waves reflecting back to Earth from the ionosphere offer valuable news on climate change.



Snap Circuits is an educational toy that teaches electronics with solderless snap-together electronic components. Each component has the schematic symbol and a label printed on its plastic case that is color coded for easy identification. They snap together with ordinary clothing snaps. The components also snap onto a 10 X 7 plastic base grid somewhat analogous to a solderless breadboard. There are several Snap Circuits kits that range from a few simple circuits to the largest kit that includes 750 electronic projects.

By the time Sandy hit New Jersey and New York, it had been reduced to a tropical storm but its rare angle of approach still meant a lot of devastation.

Environmentalists in New York are resistant to creating barriers against future storms, like subway doors that can prevent flooding, and seawalls, but the stories of two residential beach communities on the New Jersey shore provide compelling evidence.


You have noticed the way water flows around boulders in a fast-moving river, creating areas of stillness and intense motion.

It's possible to control the forces of fluid flow at the smallest levels by placing tiny pillars in microfluidic channels. By altering the speed of the fluid, and stacking many pillars, with different widths, placements and orientations, in the fluid's path, they showed that it is possible to create an impressive array of controlled flows.

Why does this matter?


About once a week I use some specialized chemistry and physics to blow up cars for movies.  Here's a little video revealing how that works, that I shot while creating a scene for Rooster Teeth...

How That Works: Movie Car Explosions from Steve Wolf on Vimeo.

Miniaturization is in - but often the batteries that power them are as large or larger than the devices themselves, which defeats the purpose of building small.

Nowm a team of researchers has shown that 3D printing can be used to print lithium-ion microbatteries the size of a grain of sand. The printed microbatteries could supply electricity to tiny devices in fields from medicine to communications, including many that have lingered on lab benches for lack of a battery small enough to fit the device, yet provide enough stored energy to power them.

To our forefathers, distinguishing the living from the dead centered on calidum innatum - vital heat. Aristotle showed that when the heart turns cold, compared to other organs, a person dies and postulated that the vital heat produced in the heart caused blood vessels to react like water bubbles in boiling water - heat which our lungs cooled with air, to keep the cycle going. Modern microbiology knows body heat is not what the ancients envisioned and is more complex than an organ; biological processes should produce thermal signatures no matter how small, even within single cells, it was just that nobody knew how to measure them.


If you want to design new materials that are durable, lightweight and environmentally sustainable, it makes sense to look at old kinds: Natural composites, such as bone. Bone is strong and tough because its two constituent materials, soft collagen protein and stiff hydroxyapatite mineral, are arranged in complex hierarchical patterns that change at every scale of the composite, from the micro up to the macro.

While researchers have come up with hierarchical structures in the design of new materials, going from a computer model to the production of physical artifacts has been a persistent challenge because the hierarchical structures that give natural composites their strength are self-assembled through electrochemical reactions, a process not easily replicated in the lab.


If you've been to a whispering gallery, a quiet, circular space often underneath a dome or vault that captures and amplifies sounds as quiet as a whisper, you have witnessed parabolics in action. The sound waves are efficiently propagated by the concave surface and similar whispering-gallery waves are evident in light.

Researchers are applying similar principles in the development optomechanical sensors that will help unlock vibrational secrets of chemical and biological samples at the nanoscale.


The last open seam on the steel outer cover of the Wendelstein 7-X fusion device was closed last week, which means the core of fusion device and the installation stage has been completed and it can go into operation at the Greifswald branch institute of Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics (IPP) in 2014.