Physics

  • Wayward Satellites Test Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity

    In August 2014 a rocket launched the fifth and sixth satellites of the Galileo global navigation system, the European Union’s $11-billion answer to the U.S.’s GPS. But celebration turned to disappointment when it became clear that the satellites had been dropped off at the wrong cosmic “bus stops.” Instead...
  • A kilometre-sized Kuiper belt object discovered by stellar occultation using amateur telescopes

    Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) are thought to be remnants of the early Solar System, and their size distribution provides an opportunity to explore the formation and evolution of the outer Solar System. In particular, the size distribution of kilometre-sized (radius = 1–10 km) KBOs represents a signature of initial planetesimal sizes when...
  • What to expect in 2019: science in the new year

    Polar projects In January, US and UK researchers will descend on Antarctica to begin their largest joint mission to the continent in more than 70 years. The aim of the five-year project is to understand whether the remote and seemingly unstable Thwaites Glacier will start to collapse in the...
  • Tiny Computers Could Transform Our Lives

    Remember Innerspace, the comedy sci-fi movie from the ‘80s about a microscopic manned pod injected into a human? Although we’re years away from launching submarines inside our bodies, advances in engineering have made it possible to build computers so tiny that embedding them inside living tissue is no longer a...
  • Beguiling dark-matter signal persists 20 years on

    A group of physicists says that it is still detecting the presence of dark matter — the mystery substance thought to make up 85% of matter in the Universe — 20 years after it saw the first hints of such a signal. DAMA, a collaboration of Italian and Chinese researchers, has...
  • The Human Cell Atlas Is Biologists’ Latest Grand Project

    Aviv Regev speaks with the urgent velocity of someone who has seen the world with an extraordinary new acuity, and can’t wait for you to hurry up and see it too. At a meeting of 460 international scientists gathered last week in San Francisco, the computational biologist bombarded her...
  • Memories and recollections of the late, great Stephen Hawking

    Roger Penrose’s splendid obituary of Prof Stephen Hawking (15 March) overlooked one very important aspect. He was a passionate campaigner for peace and protester against nuclear weapons. I only had the privilege to meet him once, at the Royal Society, where he launched in the UK the internationally renowned Doomsday Clock from the...
  • IT’S BUSINESS TIME FOR ROCKET LAB, LAUNCHER OF SMALL SATELLITES

    “Dear everyone,” wrote Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck during a reddit AMA in April, “I’m not building a bigger rocket any time soon.” Beck seems to get asked about expansion a lot. He and his Kiwi-US space company don’t build craft whose names end in “heavy.” Their rockets don’t land after launch. They’re only...
  • THE PHYSICS—AND PHYSICALITY—OF EXTREME JUGGLING

    Among the (many, many) things you probably do not know about juggling is the fact that it is, at times, a physically grueling act. It’s something I certainly failed to appreciate before meeting Alex Barron. We recently met at a squash court in Burbank, California so I could watch...
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