A group of scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology recently came a step closer to figuring out where the boundary lies between the quantum and classical physical worlds, and their discovery has big implications for the future of quantum computers— which would have much faster and more powerful processors than our computers do today.
Being a know-it-all is usually a bad thing—unless, that is, you really know your sh*t. In the case of Peter J. Bentley, PhD, and the author of The Science of Why Sh*it Happens, nothing could be more true. His new book dives into the science behind ordinary occurrences, focusing in particular on the everyday mishaps— from slipping in the shower to breaking a bone. Beyond writing books, Bentley, a computer scientists and Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University College of London, spends most of his time studying the capabilities of fault-tolerant snake robots, computer networks with artificial immune systems, growing neural networks in electronics, and being an overall brainiac. PopSci.com caught up with him to see how he knows so much about, well, everything.
Proving that life exists on distant planets may seem a near impossibility, but researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have a theory that may shed light (literally!) on the age-old question. They’d like to launch an instrument into space that could detect the “chirality”—or handedness—of the light from molecules on other planets.
Imagine robots that operate without electronic components. Well, this week scientists at a robotics lab in Japan revealed a creation that could bring the scenario a step closer to reality. The team has created what looks to be a Technicolor inchworm made of motile gel that not only crawls by itself, but changes color depending on the environment it's in. And its creators say that this creeping, self-propelled goop might one day find its way into robots.
Over the past decade or so, seeking federal funding for embryonic stem cell research has been a little like slamming one's head into a brick wall. Funding was banned all together in 1996, and then President Bush loosened the ban slightly (some say negligibly) by allowing funding for embryonic stem cell lines created before August 2001. Yet, this past March, the barricade seemed to be crumbling when President Obama gave an executive order to remove the ban. But wait, all you stem cell researchers. Not so fast.
It's April 20th, National Weed Day -- the unofficial national holiday of stoners everywhere. From the party to end all parties at the University of Boulder to the crowning of Ms. High Times at an undisclosed New York City location this afternoon, the skunky perfume of cannabis is in the air. But this year, those who toke at the altar of Mary Jane may have a little more to celebrate. In politics and the media, the legalization of marijuana seems to be gaining traction.
For months, scientists, educators, and textbook publishers across the country have waited as members of the Texas Board of Education squabbled over whether to remove three little words in their sciences standards: "truths and weaknesses." The controversy? The language—supported by creationists—requires biology teachers in Texas to discuss possible weaknesses in evolutionary theory, and has had implication for how evolution is taught across the country.
Today, scientists and educators across the country are watching Texas. Why? Because the Texas Board of Education begins a three-day public testimony today to decide whether the phrase “truths and weaknesses” should be included in the state’s science standards when discussing evolution. On Friday, the 15-member board will likely vote on whether this language should be included in textbooks, and their decision could sway how evolution is taught in biology classes around the country.
Over the last century, science and religion have been like oil and water: They just don't mix. Scientists and people of faith seem to disagree about everything, particularly when it comes to hot-button issues like evolution and stem cell research. But not everyone thinks the two groups should be so polarized. John Polkinghorne, a theoretical physicist who worked at Cambridge for 25 years before becoming an Anglican priest in 1982, has spent his career trying to bridge the divide.
At 10:38 p.m. last night, Alaska's Mt. Redoubt made its first of five eruptions, the last blowing at 4:31 a.m., sending a cloud of volcanic ash 60,000 feet above sea level, according to the National Weather Service.