Electricity & Magnetism
The Physics Behind the Silver Screen
February 25, 2015
Explore the physics that makes film projection possible in all of its various forms.
January 14, 2015
What can Earth's magnetic field teach us about our planet's past?
The Ig Nobel Prizes 2014
September 24, 2014
The Ig Nobel Prizes reward the best research that first makes you laugh then makes you think. This year, we interviewed the winners who had research topics ranging from the the alignment of dogs with the Earth's magnetic field when they poo to the correlation between cat bites and depression in humans.
The History of Helium Crises
September 10, 2014
You'll often find helium in balloons, but it's also a vital gas for physics research, medical devices, and computer manufacturing. But legislation and economic pressures have had and will continue to have an enormous impact on this precious gas.
July News Roundup
July 23, 2014
The blackest material ever invented, solar-powered spacecraft, and the crushing environments inside gas giants round up this month in physics news.
December 18, 2013
Mike and Calla wrap up the year with their favorite physics stories from 2013.
December 04, 2013
Billions of neutrinos pass through us every minute, but physicists recently found 28 neutrinos so special that they got their own names.
Gauss' Missing Brain
November 20, 2013
The great mathematician's brain was mislabeled 150 years ago, leading to a modern day mystery that raises questions about the nature of genius.
Rescue Radar from Dolphin Clicks
November 06, 2013
Can dolphin sonar out-perform man-made sonar? Physicist Tim Leighton has a hunch that it can, and his pursuit of this question helped him create a new take on traditional radar technology.
Thorium Nuclear Power
October 30, 2013
Mike explores the pros and cons of a new kind of nuclear reactor: thorium molten salt reactors.
October 23, 2013
The Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland found the Higgs Boson last year, a feat that led to a Nobel Prize earlier this month. But there's still one other collider left in the U.S.: Brookhaven Lab's RHIC.
The Mystery of the Moving Magnetic Field
September 25, 2013
In the 18th century, navigators and scientists noticed that near the equator, the earth's magnetic field is shifting in a westerly direction. 300 years later, we may finally understand why.
Van Allen Belts
August 07, 2013
You may think space is empty, but just outside Earth's atmosphere lies an area teeming with activity.
Fibonacci in Nature
July 03, 2013
Calla investigates several surprising instances of math in nature, from rabbit breeding to plant DNA.
Read more on this podcast's blog post
The Mad Scientist vs. Superman
June 26, 2013
The latest Superman movie, Man of Steel, lacks a mad scientist villain typical of the franchise. So has media portrayal of scientists changed over the past few decades? Mike investigates.
Read more on this podcast's blog post
Picasso's Mysterious Paint
February 13, 2013
An art historian and physicist recently teamed up to unravel a mystery surrounding one of Picasso's avant-garde painting methods.
August 22, 2012
Fish do it; birds do it; humans do it; even bacteria do it. They all
detect the Earth's magnetic field. We actually know very little about
the ways that many organisms detect the Earth's magnetic field. Humans use
compasses, and in some cases, other organisms may take a similar
July 25, 2012
Even though Hollywood films aren't known for being completely scientifically accurate all of the time, the writers of some of the biggest films and TV shows have been relying on their science advisors to make the science in science fiction all the more believable.
Who is Enrico Fermi?
July 18, 2012
Physicist Enrico Fermi has his name attached to a number of monumental physics items, like Fermilab, fermions and fermium. Who was Fermi, what did he do to earn so much notoriety and the title of "universal physicist"? We'll try to find out in today's podcast.
How the Hippies Saved Physics
July 04, 2012
Dr. David Kaiser, author of the book "How the Hippies Saved Physics"
talks about how the culture of the 1970's influenced physics, and
brought the philosophical exploration of quantum mechanics back into
Snakes and Bombs
March 14, 2012
Calla and Mike pay a visit to the APS March Meeting to learn about scientists studying slithering snakes and to discuss how magnetic fields are leading to better bomb detection.
February 29, 2012
You can never bring the temperature down to absolute zero, but the quest to get as close as possible to the coldest of the cold has spurred other discoveries such as superconductivity.
July 20, 2011
Physics is part of America's history. In fact, one of its Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, is also one of America's most well known physicists. Find out if Franklin really did fly a kite in a lightning storm and what turkeys have to do with scientific progress, this week on the Physics Buzz Podcast.
July 13, 2011
New research by physicists at the University of Philadelphia shows that magnets can reduce the viscosity, or the thickness, of blood. High viscosity can cause heart attack and stroke, so the new results suggest that magnets could one day contribute to treating high blood viscosity.
May 11, 2011
Are plants magnetic? Scientists at the University of Berkeley have recently tried to find out.
February 09, 2011
Engineers at Duke and Harvard Universities are working on a new technology that could eventually administer medical drugs to patients
via a very small sponge that squishes up under the force of a magnetic
New Years Resolutions Part 3
January 23, 2009
In this podcast we describe some of the major experiments and concepts that physicists hope to resolve this year. This is part 3 of 3.
New Years Physics Resolutions Part 1
January 23, 2009
In this podcast we describe some of the major experiments and concepts that physicists hope to resolve this year. This is part 1 of 3.
October 16, 2008
Bolts of lightning often resemble the forked, branches of trees. However, researchers have figured out the conditions that allow for spark branches to reconnect, overcoming the electrostatic repulsion that usually causes them to separate.
Electricity & Magnetism
November 12, 2012
Medical physicists can now measure breast density with two different x-ray energies, increasing risk assessment accuracy and reducing radiation exposure.
DIY Robot Blocks
September 18, 2012
Roboticists have created multi-functional toy blocks that teach the basics of robot-building to kids.
Touchscreen Door Knobs
September 13, 2012
A new technique called Touché can transform door knobs into multi-touch devices
Robots and snakes
June 27, 2012
Mechanical engineers mimic snakes to build better robots.
May 14, 2012
A physicist has developed electronic sunglasses that blot out blinding spots of glare from the sun.
April 02, 2012
StarCAVE Pushes 3D Virtual Reality to New Frontiers
January 23, 2012
Materials Scientists Make Portable, Circuits with Special Pen and Conducting Ink
October 17, 2011
A diode is an object that conducts electric current in only one direction. Powering a diode with an alternating current (AC) electric field causes the diode in this video to pump water over its surface, propelling it back and forth on the water surface. Modifying the AC field causes the diode to change direction.
October 10, 2011
The excess heat made by busy commuters in a train station helps power a building a football field’s length away.
September 26, 2011
Models that can track how power systems respond to outages can help power system operators anticipate problems and plan ahead.
July 11, 2011
Chemical engineers make electronics' future flexible with a new material.
Anybots at Work
May 23, 2011
Engineers designed a robot that can represent a person absent from the office. This gives "working from home" a whole new look.
May 02, 2011
Environmental scientists are evaluating the Gulf Stream as a source of renewable energy. Scientists are using sound to measure the speed and power of the current at different times. The hope is that one day, different types of energy-generating equipment could be stationed to turn the power of the ocean into electricity.
Robots in the Classroom
October 18, 2010
Learning to write can be challenging and even more frustrating when people can’t understand what you’ve written. Rehabilitation scientists designed a table-top robot to help kids improve their handwriting. A robotic arm, equipped with a pen, guides the user's hand through the movements of writing words repeatedly until the student can write legibly on their own.
Submerged In Oil
October 11, 2010
Physical oceanographers and geophysicists are using a robotic submarine to study the recent Gulf of Mexico oil spill in order to find how much oil is hidden beneath the surface. The submarine, a machine engineered to manipulate density and fitted with sensors to detect depth, location and methane levels traveled one mile below the surface and came within three miles of the spill, sampling the water for analysis.
Green Wheel For Eco-Cyclists
October 04, 2010
Architects and civil engineers designed a bicycle wheel equipped with a battery and motor to seamlessly replace the rear wheel of any standard bike. The battery allows one type of matter to convert into another, thus converting one form of energy into another and making each hill climb easier an easier.
Surviving the Storm
July 08, 2010
Emergency medicine physicians shared important lightning safety information, warning individuals, "When thunder roars, go indoors." The simple rhyme serves to help bystanders stay out of harm's way and avoid the neurological damage that results from being struck by lightning.
Lightning is a form of static electricity. We experience static electricity every time we drag our feet on the carpet and then touch a conducting surface, like a metal doorknob.
Cleaner, Greener Metals
June 10, 2010
Metallurgists created a cleaner and safer alternative to chrome that is equally durable, providing a solution to the environmentally harmful processes of both making chrome and disposing of it.
The new coating is made by dipping metal into a mix of nickel and tungsten atoms. An electrical pulse is sent through the mix, causing the atoms to adhere to the metal, or "plate" the surface. The electrical current is pulsed according to the pattern chosen by the researchers.
Life On Mars
April 12, 2010
Atmospheric scientists and physicists discover lightning on mars using a unique detector
Meet the Hexapod Robot
September 28, 2009
Matt Bunting is an Electrical Engineering student at the University of Arizona. He built his first robot when he was 11 years old. In this video he demonstrates his six legged robot known as a hexapod. He began building this hexapod when he was still in high school. It is controlled by a wireless Playstation controller with motion sensitivity.
Oh, and he also wrote the background music.
Robots Helping Stroke Survivors
July 03, 2009
Using fMRI in combination with a robotic device can help monitor the progress of stroke patients' rehabilitation.
Hearts In Danger
June 24, 2009
Medical physicists improved their ability to replace leads connecting pacemakers and defibrillators to the heart by using an excimer laser.
Reducing Your Lead Footprint
May 15, 2009
Materials scientists created a lead-free piezoelectric material to replace the current one used in electronics that contains up to 40 percent lead. To make the material tiny samples of bismuth ferrite and samarium ferrite are formed into puck shape pieces. A laser then fragments the pucks into different molecules and chemicals, creating a mist that is coated onto a chip.
May 01, 2009
Physicists are Right Up Front with Upright, Walk-In MRI
Physicists created a low magnetic field walk-in MRI that enables them to obtain images of the patient in many positions-standing, sitting or laying down.
Steve Avery: Battling Cancer with Protons
April 17, 2009
Dr. Steve Avery is an assistant professor or radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He works on the Proton project that uses proton therapy to treat tumors by bombarding them with subatomic particles.
Cars Powered by the Sun
April 03, 2009
Arts, science, and engineering students are driven by solar energy to the finish line.
Prosthetics that Grow
March 13, 2009
Doctors use electromagnetism to heat and melt plastic, which allows a spring to expand and lengthen a bone prosthesis.
December 03, 2008
Electrical and computer engineers design wheelchair controlled by a magnet on the user's tongue.
Thunderstorms Cause Asthma
September 17, 2008
Meteorologists and Epidemiologists Study Connection Between Thunderstorms and Asthma Attacks.
September 10, 2008
Electrical Engineers and Meteorologists Devise Method to Measure Strength of Lightning Strikes on Tall Buildings
Sniffing Out Bombs
July 01, 2008
A tiny sensor that monitors electrical conductivity allows scientists to detect the presence of explosives. The sensor measures the conductivity of two different thin films, one made of a cobalt compound and another made of a copper compound. When reacting to most fumes, the two films respond in similar ways, but when exposed to hydrogen peroxide the films show a difference in electrical conductivity. When the sensor indicates this difference, that means that trace amounts of hydrogen peroxide are present, a common ingredient of explosives.
Lightning: Fact or Fiction?
April 01, 2006
To study lightning, scientists use rockets connected to the ground by wires. They fire the rockets into clouds, triggering electrical discharges, and storing their power. They have found that lightning doesn't come straight down to the ground, but it instead takes a series of steps.
Sun Darkens Electronics
March 01, 2006
Solar activity can wreak havoc in communications systems -- particularly during coronal mass ejections, when plumes of electrically charged particles hit earth's atmosphere. Scientists can now track the plumes down to the single affected cities, helping to predict disruptions.
Inside the Brain
July 01, 2005
Children who have speech-impairing strokes often learn to talk again, while adult stroke victims can lose their verbal abilities for good. By giving reading and verbal tests inside the MRI, researchers are comparing the inner workings of both children's and adults' brains that suffered from strokes, as well as of healthy subjects'. The researchers hope to develop therapies to help the adult patients talk again.
Back Pain Relief
July 01, 2005
Up to 40 million American suffer from sciatica pains, but the condition is often not diagnosed correctly. A new imaging technique uses a specially tuned MRI scan to image nerves and highlight them deep inside tissues. Called Magnetic Resonance Neurography, the new technique promises to diagnose conditions such as sciatica -- in which a compressed nerve in the buttock causes persistent lower-back and leg pain -- in up to 95 percent of cases that were previously undiagnosed.