A topic that should get more attention in science outreach is the weirdness of the small. And no – I do not mean the ad nauseam covered ‘quantum weirdness’, which is not* about small stuff anyway. The classical (non-quantum) behavior of the small is counterintuitive enough. Many misconceptions could be avoided with some awareness about how the surfaces of objects, even smooth looking metal surfaces, look like at small scales (think mountainous battle fields).
Now that we had a hot summer, local weather effects are once again proof of global warming. The American mid-west had resisted BBC articles and journal press releases about how global global warming was and stayed about the same before finally doing its part and having a heat wave.
That anomalous summer has put climate change back at the top of the political agenda but despite that, no one is comfortable doing actual weather and climate forecasting.
The Apocalypse is coming.
The X-Ray laser was a main weapon envisioned for the Reagan administration's Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). The descendants of that technology are used to image nano-scale structures the size of individual proteins. This is a prime example of how science is not a moral pursuit. Science simply reveals tools for our use.
Since it's the weekend and you are reading this, you are intellectually curious about science, which means there is also a statistical likelihood you enjoy beer.
Because of the natural confluence of interests that cause science and beer to go hand-in-hand, we have written a lot of articles about beer
Snake Pliskin, the anti-hero of "Escape From New York", didn't get that name because of his armor, but one day there could be a lot of snake-like soldiers running around.
Soldiers, and certainly civilians that can be be helped in the medical engineering sector, may one day get artificial implants with minimal abrasion, inspired by biology, or armor with all kinds of neat mechanical properties.
Everyone knows insects have adhesion on dry surfaces - the liquid surface tension between air, liquids and solids known as the capillary force. In order to stick to dry surfaces insects use capillary forces with the aid of their oil-covered adhesive setae. The ability to stay on slippery plants after a rain is a bigger mystery, though.
Two summers ago, I was eating fruit in the sun when I noticed that a wasp had found a fragment of my pear on the deck. The piece was only about a centimeter cubed in volume but heavy enough to prevent the wasp’s takeoff. Soon after its unsuccessful straight-up takeoff attempts, the wasp dragged the little pear morsel across the deck for about two and a half meters until it reached the edge. Once off the deck, the wasp was able to fly away with its meal.
If you watched the new "Star Trek" reboot, you had to chuckle when two heroes were plummeting toward terra firma at terminal velocity and were beamed aboard the Enterprise in the nick of time, suffering barely a bump. And that business about hiding behind Titan...okay, maybe that could work.
But that was science fiction, it gets a free pass. Superhero movies, though, had better get it right.
In "Batman Begins", Batman's cape solidifies when a current is passed through it, and it enables him to glide from tall buildings, but that would simply make a big splat, say physicists from the University of Leicester whose paper's press release made it to my inbox just in the nick of time.(1)
When you think of the northern lights (aurora borealis) you don't think of sounds. The famous blues, greens and reds rippling in the sky have been described by visitors and also handed down in stories as long as people have been visiting. Astronomers of King Nebuchadnezzar II documented it in 568 B.C.
But later travelers described sounds to go with the light show.
The lights happen when gas from the sun reaches earth's magnetic field; the charged particles flow along the planet's magnetic lines, but that is too far away for people to hear anything.