Wednesday May 24th 2017

‘Recent Work’ Archives

How nonequilibrium thermodynamics speaks to the mystery of life

How nonequilibrium thermodynamics speaks to the mystery of life

In his 1944 book What is Life?, Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger argued that organisms stay alive precisely by staving off equilibrium. “How does the living organism avoid decay?” he asks. “The obvious answer is: By eating, drinking, breathing and (in the case of [Read More]

The return of supersolids!

The return of supersolids!

We learn it from a young age: solids hold their shapes; liquids flow. Physical states of matter are mutually exclusive. A solid occupies a particular position in space, its molecules fixed. A fluid assumes the shape of its container, its molecules in constant motion. But a [Read More]

Making a match

Making a match

In the summer of 2012, Carole Baker’s oncologist told her she was eligible to join a clinical trial just getting underway after earlier treatments for her stage IV non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) had failed to stem the disease. Baker, 55, a learning specialist and [Read More]

The Riddle of Bacteria and Cancer

The Riddle of Bacteria and Cancer

The human body teems with bacteria. These micro-organisms live on the skin, in mucus membranes, on the eyes and in the gut, among other places. The large intestine alone hosts up to 1,000 different species. According to a study published in the January 28, 2016, Cell, an [Read More]

The wild weirdness of topological insulators

The wild weirdness of topological insulators

For more than 200 years, physicists have wanted to understand why electricity flows through some materials and not others. In some of the first experiments aimed at understanding conductivity, at the start of the 18th century, British autodidact Stephen Gray observed that [Read More]

Metagenomics for foodies

Metagenomics for foodies

Kefir is a viscous, sour-tasting, slightly alcoholic, milk-based beverage that’s been consumed for centuries. It’s made by adding a starter mix of bacteria and yeast – called the kefir “grain” – to pasteurized cow milk, though brewers have reported [Read More]

The value of a good science hack

The value of a good science hack

Physicist Matt Bellis attended his first Science Hack Day in the fall of 2010, in Palo Alto, California. Like many scientists attending the event for the first time, Bellis was skeptical. “Hacking,” after all, is usually left to computer programmers.  However, Bellis, [Read More]

Preserving the Past

Preserving the Past

The George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York, is the oldest photography museum in the world. The Victorian mansion that houses the museum was once home to Eastman himself – a pioneer in photography who in the 1880s helped bring photography to the masses after [Read More]

Brave New Jupiter

Brave New Jupiter

For the last five years, NASA’s Juno spacecraft has been barrelling towards its final destination: Jupiter, king of the planets. On 4 July this year, the four tonne, spinning craft – which looks like an oversized propeller that has abandoned its plane – will fire its [Read More]

Computing’s Search for Quantum Questions

Computing’s Search for Quantum Questions

It was billed as the vindication of the quantum computer. Late last year, researchers at Google announced that a quantum machine called the D-Wave 2X had executed a task 100 million times faster than a classical computer. The claim implies that the machine can complete in [Read More]

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Latest Topics

How nonequilibrium thermodynamics speaks to the mystery of life

How nonequilibrium thermodynamics speaks to the mystery of life

In his 1944 book What is Life?, Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger argued that organisms stay alive precisely by [Read More]

Solving a math problem to create art

Solving a math problem to create art

Optimization is the mathematical quest for the best way to do something, from finding the shortest distance between two [Read More]

The Internet of Things wants to link all facets of our world

The Internet of Things wants to link all facets of our world

A 94Fifty looks like an ordinary basketball. You can inflate, dribble, pass, shoot, swoosh and slam-dunk it. But [Read More]

When your stuff spies on you

When your stuff spies on you

In October 2016, hackers hit a company called Dyn. Hackers are people who write computer programs that can break into [Read More]

The return of supersolids!

The return of supersolids!

We learn it from a young age: solids hold their shapes; liquids flow. Physical states of matter are mutually exclusive. [Read More]

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