Fluid dynamics generally lends itself to the study of fluids themselves, but by revisiting the theories of an 18th-century scientist, researchers have found that studying invisible barriers that form between moving fluids may be far more enlightening than studying the actual fluids. Governing the movements of everything from the oceans to the air flow over a wing, so-called Lagrangian coherent structures are the “skeletons of the sea and air,” and are changing the way scientists understand and apply fluid dynamics, according to a report in the Economist.
In The People's Republic of China, it's no secret that the Party controls just about everything. But as Beijing suffers through its second major snowstorm this season, residents are growing weary of their leadership's control-freak tendencies. After all, while the storm came as a surprise to residents, the government knew about it all along. In fact, the government caused it.
While much of the scientific community ponders the possibility of life on Mars, Atmospheric Sciences Professor Istvan Szunyogh of Texas A&M University is more concerned with finding out if there is "weather." While the Red Planet's thin atmosphere (only 1 percent the density or ours) means there isn't weather as we experience it here, we do know that there are clouds, extreme temperatures, strong winds and dust storms that make the worst on Earth look tame by comparison. As such, NASA has awarded a grant to Szunyogh and a team of other researchers to analyze and forecast those conditions.
Nearly every summer rainstorm comes with thunder and lightning. Yet during even the blusteriest blizzard, there's nary a spark in the air. It can occur (although snow lightning strikes just six times a year on average in the U.S.), but winter air doesn't make for prime lightning-forming conditions, says meteorologist Robin Tanamachi of the University of Oklahoma.
John Pavlus and Christopher Mims, also known as Small Mammal, are here again with the latest episode of The Science of YouTube, the Popular Science video series that humanely anesthetizes YouTube videos, dissects them deftly, and labels their exposed organs for all to enjoy.
What happens when lightning strikes? A lot of bad language, for starters.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.