Force & Motion
The Fluid Physics of Flocks
December 09, 2015
This week's PhysicsCentral podcast dives into the fluid dynamics that govern collective motion, like schools of fish and flocks of birds.
Science and Entertainment
June 24, 2015
From the physics behind Thor's Hammer to the beautiful black hole renderings of Interstellar, science has a lot to offer the film industry and vice versa. What does it take to pull off a successful collaboration?
May 06, 2015
New satellite tracks Earth's changing climate from variations in its gravity.
April 08, 2015
California may not be at risk of sliding into the ocean, but how realistic are disaster movie earthquakes? Geologists gave us the scoop on Hollywood earthquakes in anticipation for this summer's disaster flick: San Andreas.
How Robocats Land on Their Feet
March 25, 2015
How do falling cats always land on their feet? Physicists have been uncovering the answer with some help from a robocat.
The Science of Shakespeare (Repost)
January 21, 2015
Shakespeare grew up during the scientific revolution, and it may have directly influenced his works. Some even argue that his plays served as allegories for scientific debates. (Originally published on April 23, 2014).
Listening for Black Holes & Neutron Stars
November 19, 2014
Scientists around the world are trying to catch some waves, some gravitational waves. Find out what these warps in space-time are, the ways to find them and how we could use them to "listen" to the movements of black holes and neutron stars.
Journey to the Center of the Earth
November 12, 2014
How do scientists study the Earth's core without directly accessing it? And how does the Earth's formation influence a potential flip in its magnetic field?
42 Yoctonewtons: The Smallest Recorded Force
July 09, 2014
Physicists have recorded the smallest force yet, and they're barreling toward the theoretical limit of how sensitive measurements can be.
June News Roundup
June 18, 2014
An asteroid nicknamed "The Beast," Earth's most abundant material, bridgmanite, and the surprisingly strong sight of frogs' eyes roundup this month in physics news.
Fresnel and the Lighthouse
June 04, 2014
Shipwrecks abounded in the early 1800's; in fact, over 100 ships wrecked in the English Channel in 1816 alone. So a physicist developed a new type of lens that dramatically increased the range of lighthouses - and the safety of sailors. This is his story.
Phase Transitions and Bull Sperm
March 12, 2014
New research found a striking resemblance between bull sperm behavior and phase transitions found in physics, and this may lead to applications in contraception and infertility treatments.
Olympic Snowboard Physics
February 19, 2014
Our resident snowboarding expert James Riordon explains the physics behind one of the most exciting Olympic sports.
Weather Physics 101
January 08, 2014
Predicting the U.S.'s recent, extreme cold snap helped millions prepare and reminds us of the closely intertwined history of both forecasting and physics.
Weightlessness in Movies
October 16, 2013
Alfonso Cuaron, the director of the new movie Gravity, had to re-create weightlessness for his sci-fi thriller. So how do filmmakers simulate weightlessness, and how close is their movie magic to reality?
Clapping Wet Hands
September 11, 2013
Clapping wet hands together can make a fun and messy game, but it's also a physics experiment. Physicist Sunny Jung discusses how does the thin film of fluid transform into droplets, and what can physicists do with that information.
August 28, 2013
Myths abound in the world of bicycle materials, so Mike has untangled what truly makes for a smooth ride. Is it the material or the design?
June 19, 2013
A new study shows that while cheetahs are still the fastest land
animal on Earth, it's not their speed that makes the great hunters;
it's their acceleration. What's the difference? For that we turn to
Read more on this podcast's blog post
June 05, 2013
Calla investigates the physics tornadoes and how scientists aim to better predict when, where and how twisters form.
Read more on this podcast's blog post
May 22, 2013
See how NASCAR teams use physics to boost speed while keeping their drivers safe on the track.
Read more on this podcast's blog post
Super Sticky Gecko Adhesive
May 01, 2013
A material inspired by gecko toe pads might be the ideal household adhesive: it can support hundreds of pounds but peels off
Destructive Domino Effect
January 31, 2013
Did you know that with the right set-up you could knock down a
building with nothing but a breath of air? Find out how on this week's podcast.
Let's go ride a bike
November 28, 2012
Between 1860 and 1885, cyclists who wanted both efficiency and speed
rode what we now call "penny farthings," or bicycles with front wheels
as large at five feet in diameter. Why the big wheels? And why don't
we have bikes like those anymore? The answer, as you might suspect,
Dance your PhD
October 31, 2012
Today on the physics buzz podcast we talk with Diana Davis, winner of the Dance Your PhD contest in the physics division. Check out Davis' winning entry on our blog, then listen to Davis address misconceptions about math research, and the shape of our universe.
Ig Nobel Prizes
September 26, 2012
The physics of ponytails, the fluid dynamics of coffee cups and zombie fish are just some of the highlights from this year's annual Ig Nobel Prizes, celebrating science that makes you laugh, then makes you think.
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
June 13, 2012
A single sheet of paper is easy to tear, but why, then, do crumpled balls of newspaper work as cushioning in packing boxes? Physicists are studying this unique architecture that maximizes the inherent strength of paper.
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.
December 07, 2011
Over billions of years, living creatures have evolved elegant solutions to complex engineering problems that humans are just starting to figure out. Fish and whales have developed ways to swim efficiently in the ocean, which researchers are now hoping to adapt for power generating wind turbines.
September 14, 2011
10 years after the towers fell the reflecting pools are about to open to commemorate this tragic event. Join Calla Cofield as she reflects on the physics of the falling towers and lessons for future presidents.
September 07, 2011
The Physics Central team recently got some first-hand experience with the physics of earthquakes.
April 20, 2011
Inventor and former rodeo rider Stephen Wharton uses physics to measure the power of bucking bulls.
March 23, 2011
The carnivorous bladderwort is the fastest carnivorous plant known to
man. It achieves this awesome title with the power of physics.
The Cat Lap
February 03, 2011
After watching his own cat lapping up its breakfast one morning, MIT Engineer Roman Stocker wanted to know just how the cat moved liquid from the bowl to its mouth. The answer is unexpected, and it involves some interesting physics.
Whale Flipper Bumps
October 02, 2008
Why are humpback whales more agile in the water than other whales? Scientists discovered that the bumps on humpback flippers decrease water turbulence. This allows the humpback whales to tilt their flippers up and achieve greater lift over other whales and hence gives more maneuverability.
Back Flip Limit
September 04, 2008
Scientists have calculated that 4 back flips is the upper limit for a dare devil motorcyclist. The energy required for the height and rotation of 4 back flips is the maximum amount of energy that the motorcycle can produce.