By Eve Stenson | October 15th 2009 08:00 PM | Print | E-mail
Nature reported this week that construction on the international fusion project ITER won't begin until next year, even though site preparation – clearing, leveling, and so on – was completed back in May. Turns out, there are still some details to be worked out about which countries are paying for what parts of the multi-billion-euro endeavor (whose construction costs, of course, have increased from initial estimates). Despite the delay, though, the machine is still projected to start operations by 2018.
By Ryan Anderson | October 15th 2009 04:07 AM | Print | E-mail

You know, I'm tired of hearing about how the Mars Exploration Rovers are so cute, and spunky, but their successor Mars Science Lab is big and ugly. MSL isn't supposed to be cute, it's supposed to be awesome.

Just how awesome, you ask? I'll tell you how awesome.
By Sonia Buckley | October 15th 2009 02:11 AM | Print | E-mail
When I was in high school one of my favorite books was “Alice in Quantumland”, by Robert Gilmore.  In it, Alice is magically shrunk down to the size of an atom, and into a world where she can experience quantum mechanical effects as atoms do – she sees friendly electrons banging against brick walls again and again, until they mysteriously appear on the other side (tunneling).  She is able to hang out with the electrons, even though they’re all exactly the same and only two of them can ever sit together on the train.  I was totally engrossed in the book, in following Alice and playing in her quantum world.Read More...
By Justin Jankunas | October 14th 2009 12:48 PM | Print | E-mail
The concept of a collision is one of the most important ones in the Universe. A new life is created when a spermatozoid collides with an ovum, love is sparked when two individuals run into (collide with) each other, exotic subatomic particles are created upon a collision of protons/electrons/muons etc., an argument is born upon a collision of interests and opinions, finally the transformation of matter is initiated by collisions between atoms, molecules and photons. Collisions are all around us!
By Kathryn Stanonik | October 14th 2009 09:00 AM | Print | E-mail
One of the thinConnecting the starsgs that makes astronomy so interesting and appealing is how visual it is.  Looking up at the night sky we instinctively want to connect the dots between the stars to draw swans and bears and teapots.  But it was the introduction of the telescope as a means of studying the heavens 400 years ago by Galileo that allowed us to realize there was more to those points of light than dots in the sky.  Bigger and bigger telescopes allowed us to see more detail of thes
By Natalie Muren | October 13th 2009 06:24 PM | Print | E-mail
Biosensor development demands creative solutions to a familiar challenge.  It is the challenge a picky child faces when she is presented with a steaming bowl of vegetable soup.

The child first identifies the target: peas.  “I do not like peas.”  Cautiously spooning through the dark broth, she scans the material in the bowl to determine if peas are present.  When the adults aren’t looking, the resourceful child might even poke her fingers into the liquid to assist with pea detection.  Characteristics of various components are distinguished by her eyes and fingers and interpreted by her brain for identification.  Orange, circular: carrots.  White, slimy: noodles.  Green, spherical: peas.  Peas.  “Yuck!!! Peas!!!”
By Darren Lipomi | October 5th 2009 08:51 AM | Print | E-mail
Nearly all problems of global scale—climate change, clean water, sustainable agriculture, healthcare, and even war—list the availability and use of energy as either a principal cause or potential solution. Everywhere we turn, we are hounded by advertisements for “green” technologies such as hybrid cars, wind power, clean coal, smart grids, and compact fluorescent light bulbs. Some technologies promise to be “small steps” toward sustainability, while others make more ambitious claims. Realists agree, however, that a complete solution to the energy challenge will be a patchwork quilt of strategies that includes gains in efficiency, conservation, alternative sources of energy, and changes of habit (gasp!). This essay describes one possible piece of the puzzle: plastic solar cells.
By Camille M. Carlisle | September 25th 2009 07:19 PM | Print | E-mail
General relativity’s wrong.  That’s a thought many of us don’t like to consider.  But what if there existed a nagging unresolved problem — say, for example, the eclipsing binary star DI Herculis — that worried at our certainty like a stray lump of mud worries Sherlock Holmes?

In fact, that's been the case for several decades . . . until now.

Our case begins over 30 years ago, when astronomer Edward Guinan (Villanova University) went to Iran to help set up an astronomy program and direct construction of the nation’s first high-powered telescope.  Once the telescope was up and running, he took advantage of Iran’s pristine skies to do some research.  He finished his project in 2 months.
By Camille M. Carlisle | September 23rd 2009 12:44 PM | Print | E-mail
General relativity’s wrong.  That’s a thought many of us don’t like to consider.  But what if there existed a nagging unresolved problem — say, for example, the eclipsing binary star DI Herculis — that worried at our certainty like a stray lump of mud worries Sherlock Holmes?

In fact, that's been the case for several decades . . . until now.

Our case begins over 30 years ago, when astronomer Edward Guinan (Villanova University) went to Iran to help set up an astronomy program and direct construction of the nation’s first high-powered telescope.  Once the telescope was up and running, he took advantage of Iran’s pristine skies to do some research.  He finished his project in 2 months.
By Mara Baraban | September 6th 2009 07:02 PM | Print | E-mail
    Take two really big prime numbers, say at least 100 digits long, and multiply them together.  It might take you the better part of the day to do this by hand, but a computer could do it almost instantly.  Now, give the result to your friend and ask her to find the two numbers you started with.  You could come back hundreds, thousands, even millions of years later, and she probably still wouldn't have found the answer.  Factoring, it turns out, is hard.  So hard, in fact that it's the basis for all current internet security.  This is one of the major reasons that people (*make specific*) are so excited about quantum computing.