Physics in Your World Archive - Page 2
Robert J. Lang Origami - Oct 1, 2012
Traditional origami is made by folding one square piece of paper, with no cuts allowed. This piece of origami art, Scorpion varileg, Opus 379, was created by physicist Robert Lang, who left his day job to do origami full-time. You can learn about his work on Robert J. Lang Origami; in the "Science" section, you'll see how origami can be applied to problems in engineering and industrial design. For much more on Lang himself, see this New Yorker article.
Mars Science Laboratory--Curiosity Rover - Sep 1, 2012
As Curiosity executed its complex landing on Mars last August, another NASA probe, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, captured this remarkable image. It shows Curiosity, along with its parachute, descending toward the surface. The magnified view on the right has been processed to show the details of the parachute--that's why the surface of Mars looks so dark. To learn more about this image, click here.
Impact Cratering - Aug 1, 2012
The Galileo spacecraft captured this image as it passed by the moon on its way to Jupiter. See the smooth dark areas? They were created three to four billion years ago when large volcanoes erupted and lava filled in the low-lying regions. Most of the smooth dark areas are round--these started off as enormous craters. Later, volcanoes erupted and filled them in, producing "impact basins." To find out more about how impact basins were formed, visit Impact Cratering.
The Oklo Fossil Fission Reactors - Jul 1, 2012
This photo shows part of a natural nuclear reactor-- an underground uranium deposit where a chain reaction occurred spontaneously. In fact, such a natural reactor was predicted, beginning in 1956, and then discovered in 1972.
Hyperphysics: Electric Guitars - Jun 1, 2012
This photo shows the electric guitar pickups from a Fender Stratocaster. Notice that there are three different pickup locations, and each location has a pickup (the circular dots) for every string. Each individual pickup contains a magnet, a coil, and thousands of turns of insulated wire wrapped around the magnet.
Hyperphysics: Torque - May 1, 2012
Think about the forces on this sailboat: The force of the wind on the sail (perpendicular to the fabric of the sail), tends to rotate the boat. A force that can rotate an object is called a torque. In this case, if the torque of the wind isn't balanced, it will tip the boat over. The weight of the sailor, and also the weight of the hull that's out of the water, both create torques in the opposite sense, to balance the torque of the wind.
Hyperphysics: Electromagnetic Waves - Apr 1, 2012
In the photo above of a handheld citizens band radio, the metal coil is the antenna. When the radio is transmitting, the radio produces an electric current that surges back and forth in the antenna, which emits radio waves. And when the radio is receiving, radio waves induce a tiny alternating current in the antenna. The current in the antenna carries the radio signal.
Structure and Optical Isomerism - Mar 1, 2012
Have you noticed that the left hand is the mirror image of the right hand, but they cannot be superimposed? That's also true for some molecules containing carbon atoms. In the image above, the molecule on the left cannot be superimposed on the one on the right.
Kepler Mission - Feb 1, 2012
The NASA Kepler observatory searches for extrasolar planets by monitoring about 100,000 stars in a small patch of sky. The observatory looks for stars that periodically dim as a planet passes in front of the star. Kepler was launched in 2009, and by January, 2012, it had already found 33 confirmed extrasolar planets and about 2300 candidates. To learn more, visit Kepler Mission, then click on "Mission Overview."
How Things Work: Winglets - Jan 1, 2012
The photo shows two NASA F/A18s. The smoke streaming from the wingtip of the one on the right reveals the wingtip vortex, which increases the wing's drag. This vortex occurs because the pressure underneath the wing is greater than the pressure above the wing; this excess pressure generates a flow of air around the wingtip, creating the vortex. These vortices can trail behind the aircraft for miles, creating a hazard for following aircraft, particularly small ones.