Biology Botany Physics 

How Do Plants Know Which Way to Grow?

By Shayna Keyles (@shaynakeyles) How do plants know which way is up and which way is down? No matter which way you put a seed in the soil, it will always send its roots down and its shoots up. (Unless you’re in space–we’ll get back to that later.) The answer lies in tropism: motion in response to external stimulus. This is pretty amazing, considering that in the traditional sense, plants can’t move. Specifically, plants are affected by geotropism, phototropism, and hydrotropism. In other words, plants move toward gravity, light, and water,…

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Astronomy Physics 

The Science Behind Auroras

By Steven Spence (@TheStevenSpence) The northern lights (aurora borealis) and southern lights (aurora australis) are fascinating scientifically. In fact, aurora is not unique to the Earth. We have observed aurora in the upper atmosphere of Jupiter and Saturn with various spacecraft and ground-based telescopes. Solar Wind The sun constantly emits streams of particles from its atmosphere out into the solar system. This emission is referred to as the solar wind. Sometimes there are solar storms or solar flares, resulting in heavier emissions than normal. If the Earth passes through one…

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Astronomy Photos Physics Science & Art 

Photographing the Northern Lights in Iceland

By Steven Spence (@TheStevenSpence) For night’s swift dragons cut the clouds full fast, And yonder shines Aurora’s harbinger; At whose approach, ghosts, wandering here and there, Troop home to churchyards. — Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream Curtains of Light Across the Sky Seeing the northern lights (aurora borealis) has long been on my bucket list. In March 2018 I was fortunate enough to have a break, allowing me to travel solo for some weeks. I headed to Iceland (also on my bucket list), hoping to catch not only the northern…

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Education Physics Videos 

Science with Sophie: Potholes!

About Science With Sophie Science With Sophie is an interactive science comedy series for all ages. This fast-paced show invites viewers to explore science all around them and remember that they are brave, curious, funny, smart scientists every day. Hosted by science educator/actor/comedian Sophie Shrand, the cast of wacky characters – all played by Sophie – educate and entertain while showcasing how diverse careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) can be. The series is Sophie’s upbeat solution to the serious problem of inequity in STEM fields and underrepresentation…

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Waves of Physics: The Science of Surfing Physics 

Waves of Physics: The Science of Surfing

By Jonathan Trinastic @jptrinastic Surfers catching the perfect wave rely on years of experience and learned intuition to navigate through a cresting tunnel of water. But surfing can also be seen as a surfer’s constant minuet with dozens of changing forces that threaten to tumble even the most expert into the crashing waves. Let’s explore the most important forces at play to understand this unique dance with water that so many love. GotScience: When surfers wait for the right wave, they can let other waves pass underneath them. What forces…

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Science of Skateboarding, Halfpipe Physics Physics 

Science of Skateboarding: Half-Pipe Physics

By Kate Stone and Jonathan Trinastic Skateboarders might seem to defy gravity as they soar high above a half-pipe, but they are actually taking advantage of specific physics principles that help them reach such heights. GotScience interviews physicist Jonathan Trinastic to learn more. GotScience: As a physicist, what do you see happening in these photos? Dr. Jonathan Trinastic: Skateboarders on a half-pipe take advantage of two primary physics conservation principles: conservation of energy and angular momentum. Let’s start with conservation of energy. Energy can be broken down into two main…

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power grid, science policy, energy Physics Science Policy Technology 

Science Policy Challenges, Part Two: A Strained Grid

By Jonathan Trinastic @jptrinastic This is the second in a series of four articles by Dr. Jonathan Trinastic in our new Science Policy section. Just over a year ago, over 230,000 Ukrainians lost connection to their country’s electricity grid after hackers took control of computers and shut down regional substations. The attack had been planned for months, likely by an experienced and well-funded team. Such an organized assault could soon be seen somewhere in the United States. “Everything about this attack was repeatable in the United States,” said Robert Lee,…

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Graphene Sieve Turns Saltwater into Drinking Water Physics 

Graphene Sieve Turns Saltwater into Drinking Water

By Kate Stone @GotScienceOrg Water, water, every where, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink. —Rime of the Ancient Mariner Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge published those lines in 1798. In 2017, scientists from the University of Manchester have developed a graphene-based desalination tool. Soon, more of that abundant seawater might be drinkable after all. This is good news for Coleridge’s ancient mariner and for everyone in need of fresh water. Fresh water is like liquid gold. According to the United Nations, 85…

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Can You Improve Your Running with Physics? Biology Physics 

Can You Improve Your Running with Physics?

By Emily Rhode @riseandsci Running is one of the simplest forms of exercise we can do. It requires no protective gear or fancy equipment. At its core, it just requires force. Runners are constantly searching for clues for how to improve their speed and prevent injury. But until now, there was no easy way to fully assess the way a runner moves. In a new study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, researchers at Southern Methodist University describe a new method that requires nothing more than a quality camera…

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How Nature Uses Physics to Create the Color Blue Animals Physics 

How Nature Uses Physics to Create the Color Blue

By Danielle Bengsch Pigments are one way to be colorful, but butterflies rely on physics at the nanoscale. The Blue Diadem butterfly, found on the African continent, is roughly the size of a saucer with wings spread. These wings fascinated Radwanul Hasan Siddique of the California Institute of Technology. It wasn’t pigment that turned the butterfly’s wings a radiant cornflower blue, but what was it? He found out and is applying lessons he’s learning from nature’s palette to biomedical devices. ResearchGate: Why is the color blue so rare in nature,…

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