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From the archives: The stability of the bicycle

Today is National Bike to Work Day in the US. Yet, as David Jones noted in his 1970 article in Physics Today, "apparently no one knows how" they ride a bicycle. Jones performed some tests to unravel the physics of remaining upright.

A charming measurement of CP violation - Physics Today 2019-05-16 20:07

Although the violation of CP symmetry in the weak decays of some hadrons was initially a surprise to those in the field, the standard model of particle physics allows for and, in fact, predicts it. Over the past 55 years, researchers have detected subtle differences in the decay rates of K a...

Williamina Fleming - Physics Today 2019-05-15 13:34

Born on this day in 1857 in Dundee, Scotland, Williamina Paton Stevens Fleming was a pioneering astronomer who devised a stellar classification system and discovered the Horsehead Nebula. She was part of an accomplished team of women astronomers at the Harvard Observatory that included Annie Jum...

Where in the world are Nazi Germany’s uranium cubes?

In April 1945 some children in the German town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen stole a bunch of small but heavy black cubes from a military truck that was retreating from the advancing Allied forces. The children didn’t find the black blocks very interesting—until discovering that when thrown the cubes wo...

Physics Today Photo 2019-05-10 14:17

Born on this day in 1958 in Los Angeles, Ellen Ochoa is a physicist, engineer, and astronaut who most recently served as director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. She was the first Hispanic woman to go to space. Ochoa earned her bachelor’s in physics from San Diego State University a...

Black, Hot Ice May Be Nature’s Most Common Form of Water

Predicted in 1988, a strange form of water called superionic ice has been created in the laboratory. The black, hot, dense ice crystal may be one of the more common forms of water in the universe, subsisting in the interiors of gas giant planets like Uranus and Neptune.

How Twisted Graphene Became the Big Thing in Physics | Quanta Magazine

Last year we wrote about the surprising discovery of superconductivity in stacked layers of graphene that are twisted at just the right angle. Since then the field of "twistronics" has exploded, with dozens of groups twisting layered 2D materials in search of insights into superc...

Junior researchers often ghostwrite peer reviews

Despite disapproving of the practice, many early-career researchers admitted in a new survey to ghostwriting peer-review reports for their principal investigators. The most common reason that researchers give to justify ghostwriting is prohibitive or unclear journal policies, the survey shows. M...

Physics Today Photo 2019-04-29 13:20

Born on this day in 1893 in Walkerton, Indiana, Harold Urey was a physical chemist who discovered deuterium, participated in the Manhattan Project, and was a major proponent of the early US space program. His discovery of the hydrogen isotope deuterium in 1931 led to his receiving the Nobel ...

Albert Einstein and the high school geometry problem

An Einstein anecdote to end the week: "In early May 1952, 73-year-old Albert Einstein took a break from his three-decade pursuit of a unified field theory to provide a 14-year-old some help with a geometry problem. ..."
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