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 updated: 09/07/2009

Last Physics Stories

Galileo will be a global network of 30 satellites providing precise timing and location information to users on the ground and in the air. Since the first GPS satellite was launched in the late 1970s, sat-nav technology has evolved enormously. Galileo should offer greater accuracy - down to a metre and less. "On board Galileo - as with GPS - we have to take into account two different relativistic effects," said Mr Waller. read more from  Atomic rhythms give precise fix

power plant at duskThe modern electric utility industry in the United States can be traced to the invention of the practical light bulb in 1879 by Thomas Alva Edison. Always looking toward the marketplace, Edison realized that his light bulb would mean nothing unless he developed an entire electric power system that generated and distributed electricity. Continue to read from Emergence of Electrical Utilities in America

More than anything else, breaking down the light from celestial objects into its constituent colors has helped us understand the universe. A spectrum can tell astronomers what an object is made of, how hot it is, how fast it is moving, and a host of other important attributes. Read more from pbs

Located in the Cathedral is the Great Stalactite Organ, the world's largest musical instrument. Stalactites covering 3 1/2 acres of the surrounding caverns produce tones of symphonic quality when electronically tapped by rubber-tipped mallets. Read more...


Two species of termites regularly build magnetic mounds. Magnetic mounds, besides being tall, thin and wedge-shaped with the longer axis orientated from north to south. To build “magnetic'“mounds the termites must be able to sense the direction of the earth's magnetic field. It has been suggested that they do this by means of magnetite in their tissues....Read more..... and Magnetite biomineralization in termites

Alaska is known as a good place for seeing the polar aurora, also known as "Northern Lights." Originally the phenomenon was named "Aurora Borealis," Latin for "northern dawn," since in the lower 48 states or in mid-Europe it may appear (on the rare occasions when it does) as a glow on the northern horizon, as if the sun was rising from the wrong direction. Read more ...  

Before 1820, the only magnetism known was that of iron magnets and of lodestones. This was changed by a little-known professor of science at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, Hans Christian Oersted. Read more about magnetism and electric current

The largest superconducting magnet ever built, in the Atlas detector at the Cern lab, has been powered up successfully. Engineers sent a current of 21,000 Amps round the coils. Atlas will analyse collisions in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which will recreate conditions just after the Big Bang.

A few countries are using powerful electromagnets to develop high-speed trains, called maglev trains. Maglev is short for magnetic levitation, which means that these trains will float over a guideway using the basic principles of magnets to replace the old steel wheel and track trains. more

At midmorning August 18, 1894 , citizens of Buffalo NY, saw an image of Toronto with its harbor and downtown church spires. A side-wheel steamer heading from Rochester to Toronto was also discernible in this "superior mirage." An intense temperature inversion caused straight-line light rays to curve downward over Lake Ontario, creating the mirage. The air over Toronto must have been perfectly layered and stable to project such clear detail 180km away, read more ...

Sharks also use one sense we don't have at all. The ampullae of Lorenzini give the shark electrosense. The ampullae consist of small clusters of electrically sensitive receptor cells positioned under the skin in the shark's head.  Scientists still don't yet understand everything about these ampullary organs, but they do know the sensors let sharks "see" the weak electrical fields generated by living organisms. more

Tsunamis are unlike wind-generated waves, which many of us may have observed on a local lake or at a coastal beach, in that they are characterized as shallow-water waves, with long periods and wave lengths.....a tsunami travels at about 200 m/s, or over 700 km/ more


While our clocks are set by an average 24 hour day for the passage of the Sun from noon to noon, the Earth rotates on its axis in 23 hours 56 minutes and 4.1 seconds with respect to the rest of the universe. From our perspective here on Earth, it appears that the entire universe circles us in this time. It is possible to do some rather simple experiments that demonstrate that it is really the rotation of the Earth that makes this daily motion more about Foucault pendulum and its physics explanation

The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) will look for gravitational waves coming from our Galaxy and other galaxies. LISA will also map the structure of space and time around black holes and determine if Einstein's theories are correct. But, what are gravitational waves, how do we know that they exist, where can we find them, and why should we study them? Read from Jet Propulsion Laboratory site

Henry Lapaut's optical glass company located in Paris, France, made this lens to be displayed at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Captain Schely, Chairmen of the Light house Board purchased it for use in America. The lens was placed in the South Tower of Twin Light House Navesnik NJ in June of 1893, and operated until 1949. Read more how Fresnel Lens works

Many people have heard a sonic boom, but few have seen one. When an airplane travels at a speed faster than sound, density waves of sound emitted by the plane cannot precede the plane, and so accumulate in a cone behind the plane. When this shock wave passes, a listener hears all at once the sound emitted over a longer period: a sonic boom. Read more

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