Space Photos of the Week: Juno Snatches a Shot of Jupiter’s Swirling Storms

Feast your eyes on Jupiter! This photo was taken by the Juno spacecraft currently in orbit around the gas giant, just a few weeks ago on December 16. Here, the dizzying whorls in Jupiter’s clouds are seen in unprecedented detail, as high-flying storms cast shadows onto the atmosphere below. They don’t call it the king […]

This AI-Fortified Robot Will Build the First Homes for Humans on Mars

When humans are finally ready to relocate civilization to Mars, they won’t be able to do it alone. They’ll need trusted specialists with encyclopedic knowledge, composure under pressure, and extreme endurance—droids like Justin. Built by the German space agency DLR, such humanoid bots are being groomed to build the first martian habitat for humans. Engineers […]

‘Mortal Engines’ Trailer: The Physics of Those Giant Driving Cities

Next December, there’ll be a new entrant into the end-of-year, blockbuster science fiction movie category: the Peter Jackson film Mortal Engines. A teaser trailer for it dropped just before the holidays, and there’s really only one thing you need to know about it. Driving cities. Driving cities! Now, I know the movie is based on […]

Earthquake Alerts: How to Get an Early Warning for the Next Big One

At 2:39 am Thursday morning, millions of Bay Area residents from Sacramento to San Jose were shaken awake by the rolling tremble of a 4.4 magnitude earthquake. The eight-mile deep tremor struck along the Hayward fault, two miles southeast of Berkeley. From my apartment just 20 blocks from the epicenter, I woke with the rest […]

How to Buck the Brogrammer Culture and Get Women into STEM

My mom doesn’t believe in the impossible. A Chinese immigrant and physics teacher, she arrived in the US with big dreams and limited English. During her first six months in the country, she would visit English-speaking friends to help her write checks—and when she got tired of that, she enrolled in an English class from 7 […]

A Clever New Robotic ‘Muscle’ Seriously Lifts, Bro

Oh, the poor humanoid robots. After decades of development, they’re still less sprinty Terminator and more … octogenarian on sedatives. While these robots may look like us, they aren’t built like us—electric motors in their joints drive their herky-jerky movements, whereas our muscles give us more precise control over our bodies. Well, unless we’re on […]

Why the Bomb Cyclone Hitting the East Coast Is So Unusual

Now, the first thing you should know about a bomb cyclone is it’s just a name—and unlike a sharknado, it’s not a literal one. The very real scientific term describes a storm that suddenly intensifies following a rapid drop in atmospheric pressure. Bombing out, or “bombogenesis,” is when a cyclone’s central pressure drops 24 millibars […]

The Physics of Plastic Sheets … and Their Invisible Force Fields?

When you wander around the internet, sometimes you can find some crazy stuff. Check this out: It’s an old account of a weird phenomena created by giant plastic sheets at 3M Corporation. In short, these fast-moving, electrically-charged plastic sheets created some type of effect that prevented humans from passing through an invisible wall. It sounds […]

Why Symmetry Continues to Beguile Mathematicians

Why Symmetry Continues to Beguile Mathematicians

You could forgive mathematicians for being drawn to the monster group, an algebraic object so enormous and mysterious that it took them nearly a decade to prove it exists. Now, 30 years later, string theorists—physicists studying how all fundamental forces and particles might be explained by tiny strings vibrating in hidden dimensions—are looking to connect […]

I Believe in Intelligent Design … for Robots

I Believe in Intelligent Design … for Robots

The beauty of evolution lies in two complementary forces: simplicity and complexity. From a simple rule—survival of the fittest—comes the astonishing array of critters that populate Earth. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got two legs or four legs or no legs at all, there’s no one right way to be on this planet. Same goes, […]