CERN’s pentaquark: The Large Hadron Collider continues to amaze the science world

With the recent discovery of the pentaquark, we are once again reminded of the pioneering work that’s being carried out at CERN in Geneva. Pentaquarks are an exotic form of matter first predicted in 1979. Everything around us is made of atoms, but since the 1960s, we’ve also known that protons and neutrons are made up of even smaller particles...

G-force explained: How acceleration can knock you out

When you’re hurtling down the steel track of a roller coaster, it might seem that your stomach is climbing into your throat, and your eyes are squishing deep into your skull. Several forces are at play when you feel that way. Earth is constantly pulling down on every one of us. It has a great deal of mass, and that...

Golf science: The secret to improving your swing – infographic

The secret to becoming a pro golfer isn’t just about practice, discipline and athletic skill – a good knowledge of physics can really help too. The technique the professionals use to deliver the perfect swing is founded on Newton’s laws of motion, with momentum, impulse, force and torque all playing an important roll in sending the ball soaring towards the...

Carbon nanofibres

American scientists have made a significant breakthrough in the production of carbon nanofibres. They are now able to make this valuable manufacturing material out of thin air, from the carbon dioxide that makes up 0.04 percent of the air we breathe. This has been possible thanks to their specialised solar-powered system, which runs a current through hot, molten salt...

Memory science: can you extend your short-term memory?

As you read this article, you store the words at the beginning of each sentence in your short-term memory while you work your way through to the end, enabling you to understand the text. Short-term memory acts somewhat like a gatekeeper between incoming sensory information and long-term storage. You are constantly bombarded by information, and the incoming traces from your...

A flea can accelerate faster than the Space Shuttle

A jumping flea reaches dizzying heights of about eight centimetres (three inches) in a millisecond. Acceleration is the change in speed of an object over time, often measured in ‘g’s, with one g equal to the acceleration caused by gravity on Earth (9.8 metres/32.2 feet per square second). Fleas experience 100 g, while the Space Shuttle peaked at around...

Venus is the only planet to spin clockwise

Our Solar System started off as a swirling cloud of dust and gas which eventually collapsed into a spinning disc with the Sun at its centre. Because of this common origin, all the planets move around the Sun in the same direction and on roughly the same plane. They also all spin in the same direction (counterclockwise if observed...

The Earth is a giant magnet

Earth’s inner core is a sphere of solid iron, surrounded by liquid iron. Variations in temperature and density create currents in this iron, which in turn produce electrical currents. Lined up by the Earth’s spin, these currents combine to create a magnetic field, used by compass needles worldwide.