Suppose this parallel plate capacitor is connected to a 9-volt battery. A volt is a measure of the electric potential difference. In short, this is the electric potential energy per charge—it’s a measure of how much energy a charge would gain by moving across that potential. So, [...]
A Puzzling Quantum Scenario Appears to Violate a Law of Physics
Remember we’re dealing with the photon’s wave function here. Since the bounce doesn’t constitute a measurement, the wave function doesn’t collapse. Instead, it splits in two: Most of the wave function remains in the box, but the small, rapidly oscillating piece near where the [...]
How Realistic Is the Celestial Navigation in Moon Knight?
Our planet also changes positions. In six months, the Earth will go from one side of the sun to the other. This is a change in distance of almost 300 million kilometers, and it’s enough to cause a noticeable apparent position change for some of the nearest stars. In fact, parallax [...]
An Elusive Gravity Signal Could Mean Faster Earthquake Warnings
Seismic waves from a big quake are easy to see—think of the classic image of a seismograph, pencil scratching out telltale waves on a rotating paper as the tremor arrives. Even to highly trained eyes, PEGS are just squiggles, indistinguishable from the noise. It’s hard to prove [...]
An Antimatter Experiment Shows Surprises Near Absolute Zero
The project was designed to see if spectroscopy in a helium bath was possible at all—a proof of concept for future experiments that would use even more exotic hybrid atoms.
But Sótér was curious about how the hybrid atoms would react to different temperatures of helium. She convinced [...]
I Don’t Understand Anything Anymore
The meaning of time is lost in the measurement. Besides, at some point precision measurements run into the uncertainty principle, which tells us you can’t know everything—certainly not at once.
Now isn’t that a relief?
Understanding how things [...]
A Newly Measured Particle Could Break Known Physics
Physicists have found that an elementary particle called the W boson appears to be 0.1 percent too heavy—a tiny discrepancy that could foreshadow a huge shift in fundamental physics.
What Actually Happens If You Shoot a Ball at a Newton’s Cradle?
So, here’s the obvious next question: Is kinetic energy also conserved, just like momentum is conserved? The answer is: sometimes. For some collisions that we call “elastic collisions,” both kinetic energy and momentum are conserved. In general, elastic collisions happen [...]
Want a Battery That Lasts? Play Hot and Cold
Around this time each year, the Pacific Northwest enjoys a temporary bounty of renewable energy. A torrent of melted snow builds behind the region’s abundant dams just as strong gales blow through the gorges, pushing arrays of wind turbines. But come late [...]
A New Tool for Finding Dark Matter Digs Up Nothing
Even the strongest gravitational waves that pass through the planet, created by the distant collisions of black holes, only stretch and compress each mile of Earth’s surface by one-thousandth the diameter of an atom. It’s hard to conceive of how small [...]