Month: <span>January 2012</span>

George and John's Excellent Adventures in Quantum Entanglement [Video]

A metaphorical version of John Bell’s famous entanglement.

Simply put, bottomlessly deep: that is the definition of a great discovery in science. From the principle of relativity to evolution by natural selection, the concepts that govern our world are actually not that hard to state. What they mean and what they imply—well, that’s another matter. And so it is with quantum entanglement. One […]

By George Musser 0 Comments 5 min read Continue reading

Could a Balloon Fly in Outer Space?

Sure it could. Space is not a perfect vacuum.

Here’s the sort of crazy idea that animates our office conversation at Scientific American. It all started with my colleague Michael Moyer’s joke that a certain politician could build his moon base using a balloon: just capture the hot air and float all the way up. Ha ha, we all know that balloons don’t work […]

By George Musser 0 Comments 3 min read Continue reading

Magnetoastrocoolness: How Cosmic Magnetic Fields Shape Planetary Systems

For one thing, they can cause embryonic planets to spiral inward.

AUSTIN, Texas—Astrophysicists have a funny attitude toward magnetic fields. You might say they feel both repelled and attracted. Gravitation is assumed to rule the cosmos, so models typically neglect magnetism, which for most researchers is just as well, because the theory of magnetism has a forbidding reputation. The basic equations are simple enough, solving them […]

By George Musser 0 Comments 3 min read Continue reading

Astronomers Catch Black Hole Spitting Out Material

Knots of gas are clocked at a quarter of the speed of light.

AUSTIN, Tex.—One of the great ironies of the universe is that black holes, the ultimate vacuum cleaners, create more of a mess than they clean up. (It is a complaint that many people who finally prevailed on spouses and roommates to clean up after themselves might appreciate.) How is it that, in sucking up surrounding […]

By George Musser 0 Comments 2 min read Continue reading

Science Is the 99 Percent

Nobelist Steven Weinberg says the crisis in science funding is part of a general underinvestment in public goods.

AUSTIN—A regular feature of American Astronomical Society conferences is an evening lecture on the state of science funding. Let’s just say it’s not a great date night. There have been happy counterexamples, but usually you spend an hour and a half hearing about the latest budget cuts and walk out of the room in a […]

By George Musser 0 Comments 4 min read Continue reading

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