Physics in Action by Topic

Electricity & Magnetism

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How Batteries Work

From turning on a lamp in your home to running solar panels, batteries play a large role in our everyday lives.

Getting humans to Mars safely means figuring out how to protect the body from the damage of cosmic rays.

Shields Up: What's Holding Up Human Travel to Mars?

Getting humans to Mars safely means figuring out how to protect the body from the damage of cosmic rays.

Elon Musk's latest venture seeks to unite machines and the human mind.


Elon Musk's newest venture seeks to unite machines and human minds.


Dressed to Impress: Attraction Between Electrons

By "dressing" the potential of electrons, researchers have taken what may be a big step toward room-temperature superconductivity!

Electrostatics help

Advances in Micro-Drones

Electrostatics help "bug bot" micro-drones cling to surfaces just like their biological counterparts!

Radiofrequency electromagnetic waves can power wireless brain implants in mice!

Wireless Neural Implants

Radiofrequency electromagnetic waves can power brain implants in mice

Femtosecond-pulse lasers have enabled the creation of free-floating, interactive holograms!

Plasma Fairies: Femtosecond Laser Holograms

Lasers have enabled the creation of free-floating, interactive holograms!

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Color-Tunable Elastic Fibers

By mimicking the structure of organisms like the Pollia condensata berry, researchers have invented an elastic fiber that changes color when stretched!

Two images showing the intercalation of the aluminum tetrachloride ions with the graphene sheets

Ultrafast Aluminum Battery

It’s flexible, fast, nontoxic, doesn’t catch on fire, and its materials are inexpensive.

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Wave-Particle Duality in One Image

The principle of complementarity remains upheld.


Electrifying Tesla Coil Music and Fashion

Creating art with stunning electric arcs


Atomic Friction

New research reveals the frictional nuances on the atomic scale


A Spin on Doppler

A twist on this physics principle can detect rotation in tornadoes, planets and more


Tiny Particle Accelerators

These powerful particle accelerators can fit on a desk


The Cyborg Scientist

Blurring the lines between man and machine with electronic implants


Could This Be the Next Robotic Skin?

Ladybug hairs inspire sensitive, flexible electronic sensors


Charging Ahead: The Future of Battery Technology

Measuring charge in electric vehicles


Router Vision

With an adapted wireless router, you can see moving objects through walls


Wirelessly Charged Electric Buses

A new bus route will feature electric buses that wirelessly charge while waiting for passengers.

flexible electronics

Monitoring the Brain with Flexible Electronics

A new brain sensor developed by a team of researchers could represent a significant improvement in the ability to detect exactly where abnormal brain activity starts.

magnetic nail polish

Magnets: Where Physics Meets High Fashion

Physics enthusiasts aren't always the people you turn to for advice on the latest fashion trends, but it's impossible not to give physics at least partial credit for the recent nail craze--magnetic nail polish.

sensor tattoo

Electronic Tattoos

Electronic sensors are used to gather all sorts of information. Perhaps you’ve seen some fitness monitors that look like arm bands, chest bands, or watches. There are brain monitors, some look like a swim cap with wires coming out. Mindball (a game using your brain waves) just has a single band you put around your head. Now imagine an electronic sensor that is wireless, flexible, and as inconspicuous as a temporary tattoo!


Record energies force new thoughts on lightning

Physicists using modern spacecraft have observed storms all over the planet and discovered that lightning can generate energies far in excess of what was previously thought possible. What's even more alarming is that some of them can generate anti-matter.

diagram of precessing

fMRI – The Future Mind Reader?

fMRI’s might be the future technology to read your thoughts and emotions. There have been claims that fMRI can determine if you are telling the truth, what image you are looking at, and perhaps in the future, what you are thinking , feeling, or your intending.


Pulling the Plug on Conventional Charging

Imagine walking into your bedroom and your cell phone starts charging immediately, you don't even have to bother plugging it in. These capabilities are being developed in scientists' labs around the country thanks to a technology known as inductive charging.


Seeing Lightning in the Ash

The eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland created an ash cloud that disrupted air traffic throughout Europe. And as if the magma and ash violently spewing out of the volcano's crater wasn't scary enough, the eruption also generates lightning!


Blowing in the Wind

Flying kites and tumbling plastic bags show that wind carries kinetic energy. The purpose of a windmill is to harness that energy. From the earliest versions 2,200 years ago in Persia to the Megawatt turbines today, windmills use physics to harness nature's chaotic fiery for human benefit.


Infrared Light

What do night vision goggles, land mine detectors, and studies of the universe have in common? In some way, all of them are connected to a small range of light sandwiched between visible light and microwaves on the electromagnetic spectrum—infrared light.

Virus-enabled templating

Lithium-ion Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries already power your cell phone and your laptop, and they may soon power your car. What makes these batteries so great?


Fusion Machines

In 1951, the astrophysicist Lyman Spitzer devised a way to contain a hot plasma—an ionized gas—with the hope of producing a sustained fusion reaction that could lead to electric power generation.


MRI Magic

Medical x-rays provide images of the body but utilize radiation that in large doses can damage cells. A completely different technology, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), emerged in the late 1970s.


Ferrofluid Fun

Have you ever seen a liquid magnet? If magnetic material is ground into an extremely fine powder, with a particle size of about 10 nanometers, and suspended in a liquid, the resulting magnetic suspension is called a ferrofluid.


Giant Magnetoresistance

Nobel-prize-winning research led to the MP3 player and HDTV-on-demand.