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High-temperature superconductors (HTS), capable of storing and transmitting electricity with perfect efficiency, are a theoretical stumbling block. The mechanism underlying HTS behavior is a mystery, and the subject of significant contention and investigation among scientists. This puzzle, unlike headline-making unknowns such as dark energy (admittedly awesome and worth losing sleep over), could revolutionize our entire…

The term “floating water bridge” may sound nonsensical, but it’s the most logical name for a phenomenon that occurs when two beakers of water set slightly apart are zapped with high-voltage electricity and the water molecules jump across the gap to connect and form a thin thread of water. The molecular structure that suspends this…

Brookhaven’s Joe Gettler interviewed biologist Ben Babst about his pioneering plant biology research – here’s an excerpt: Ben Babst has seen things that no one else has ever seen before. A plant biologist in Brookhaven Lab’s Biosciences Department, Babst is among pioneering researchers who are some of the first in the world to study plants…

Here’s the latest field report from the MAGIC climate research collaboration: Greetings from Honolulu! I had a wonderful trip over – mostly calm seas (we had a bit of rock and roll the last day out, but it wasn’t too bad), nice weather, some nice clouds to observe, and MAGIC data! In port in LA…

One of physics’ greatest tricks is polarization. Take magnets, for example, such as those commonly found on refrigerators holding up shopping lists and Christmas cards. These have the familiar north/south polarization that we can experience as attraction and repulsion. That magnetic orientation persists all the way down to the individual molecules, which actually align to…

The positive and sometimes unexpected impact of particle physics is well documented, from physicists inventing the World Wide Web to engineering the technology underlying life-saving magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) devices. But sometimes the raw power of huge experiments and scientific ambition draw the recognition of those seeking only the most extreme and impractical achievements on…

RHIC, the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven Lab, found it first: a “perfect” liquid of strongly interacting quarks and gluons – a quark-gluon plasma (QGP) – produced by slamming heavy ions together at close to the speed of light. The fact that the QGP produced in these particle smashups was a liquid and not…

Mantis shrimp, or stomatopods, are the planet’s most powerful bare-knuckle boxers, armed with dactyl clubs that literally fly faster than a speeding .22 caliber bullet. Each strike boils the surrounding water and creates a tiny cavitation bubble, which then implodes with a sonic pop that can render targets unconscious. Consider that: if the strike itself doesn’t get you,…

With nanotechnology rapidly advancing, the sci-fi dream of a Star Trek replicator becomes increasingly less fantastic. But such radical technology would, in theory, require the kind of subatomic manipulation that far exceeds current capabilities. Scientists lack both the equipment and the fundamental knowledge of quantum mechanics (the Standard Model, for all its elegance, remains incomplete)…

Let’s start with a number, by chance a palindrome: 1441. Imagine taking that many photographs of a single object, a soccer ball, say – obsessively capturing it from every angle to expose all the details. Those 1441 images provide all the evidence needed to illustrate and understand the three dimensional structure of that soccer ball.…