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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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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Flower Power: The Physics of Pollination Biology Botany 

Flower Power: The Physics of Pollination

By Marie Davey @biophilesblog Pollination. The word brings to mind the droning buzz of fat yellow and black bumblebees bouncing from blossom to blossom in flower-decked meadows. But up close and in person, pollination is often anything but idyllic. The physical forces involved in pollination can be impressive, and both plants and insects must be well adapted to withstand them. The flowers of bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) generate impressive physical forces, acting as tiny pollen catapults. Bunchberry flower buds have petals that are fused to one another and completely enclose the…

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Phosphorescent Concrete: Photo of light-emitting concrete courtesy of Investigation y Desarrollo Physics Technology 

Phosphorescent Concrete Lights the Way Home

By Jonathan Trinastic @jptrinastic Imagine a future when, as dusk turns to night during a long drive, the darkening highway begins to glow in soft hues of blue and green to illuminate the path ahead. Such a possibility could become reality after the creation of light-emitting cement by Jose Carlos Rubio at the University of San Nicolas Hidalgo in Mexico. The novel material could provide lighted pathways for cars, trucks, bikes, and pedestrians without using electricity. Countries of Concrete Most developed countries now rely on vast networks of roads to…

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liquid graphene, liquid metal Physics Technology 

Liquid Graphene: Metal Behaves Like Water

By Jonathan Trinastic @jptrinastic The Liquid Electrons of Graphene Graphene has always been a material full of promise, and now researchers from Harvard University have found one more reason to wonder at this deceptively simple, two-dimensional sheet of carbon atoms. Electrons moving across one graphene layer have been observed to act like a fluid for the first time, showing a collective motion rarely seen in other metals. Potential applications of this new behavior range from electronic devices converting heat into electricity to a better understanding of black holes. A Sheet…

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Using cycling to teach physics Physics 

Using Cycling to Teach Physics

Working together, scientists and teachers have developed a method to teach physics to 14- and 15-year-olds about aerodynamic drag. “Usually, describing a realistic motion including aerodynamic drag would be beyond the scope of a secondary physics course. However, I realized that this could be done fairly easily for a bike slowing down by aerodynamic drag,” explains Florian Theilmann from the Weingarten University of Education in Germany. From Textbook to Real-Life Physics “In a common physics class, physics seems to be presented in a very simplified way,” Theilmann continues. “Sure, that helps…

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Flight: Photo by Max Goldberg Physics 

Ruminations on Flight

By Rosalind Rude I have a friend who pilots his own aircraft. He’s been away from it for a while so now he is boning up, re-sharpening his skills to get back in the saddle, or back in the cockpit. As he recently explained to me, piloting an aircraft is nothing like driving a car or riding a bike.   Yaw, Pitch, and Roll There are three axes in play during flight: The airplane turns left and right (yaw). The airplane’s nose goes up and down (pitch). The body of…

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Volunteers wearing the rubber soled shoes walk up and down an ice-covered inclined floor in the Challenging Environment Assessment Lab. (Reza Rizvi, Yue Li, and Sharon Ravindran/ Toronto Rehabilitation Institute) Health Physics Technology 

Winter Hack: New Rubber Grips Icy Surfaces

Winter storms dumped record amounts of snow on the East Coast and other regions of the United States this year, forcing many people to navigate icy sidewalks and roads. However, treacherous travel by foot may soon be a thing of the past thanks to a team of researchers from the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and the University of Toronto, Canada, who are working on a new rubber sole to help pedestrians get a better grip on slippery surfaces. The material is made up of glass fibers embedded in rubber, and it…

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Brain-like computer: Artwork courtesy of CoolDesign via freedigitalphotos.net Engineering Physics Technology 

Brain-like Computers from Optical Fibers

Computers that function like a human brain could soon become a reality thanks to new research using optical fibers made of speciality glass. This research has the potential to allow a faster and smarter brain-like computer that can learn and adapt. Researchers from the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton, UK, and Centre for Disruptive Photonic Technologies (CDPT) at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, have demonstrated how neural networks and synapses in the brain can be reproduced with optical pulses as information carriers, using special fibers…

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Energy-space photo of light confined on a nanowire, simultaneously shows both spatial interference and energy quantization. (Fabrizio Carbone/EPFL) Physics 

First Photo of Light as Wave and Particle

In 1905, Albert Einstein proposed that light has properties of both a wave and a stream of particles. Now, researchers in Switzerland have taken  the first ever photo of light behaving both as a wave and as a stream of particles at the same time. The ability to observe light in this way could bring us a step closer to building super fast quantum computers, the researchers say. When UV light hits a metal surface it causes an emission of electrons. This is known as the photoelectric effect. A research…

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