Bees use sunlight polarisation patterns to navigate. We can train ourselves to detect light polarisation too.
Whereas most units of measurement are arbitrary and human, Planck units are based only on four fundamental physical constants. [2 of 2]
Most units of measurement are based on specific physical qualities or tangible reference objects. But they don’t have to be. [1 of 2]
What do the bicycle, Marmite, Mormonism, and Frankenstein have in common? A volcano in Indonesia.
Just one species of land snail and a few species of freshwater snail glow in the dark.
The Fire Diamond categorises hazardous substances according to flammability, instability, and danger to human health. One material ranks the maximum on all three scales.
If you’re playing underwater rugby or football, how do you keep the ball from floating or sinking?
In 1950 Leo Szilard warned the world that a single device capable of annihilating all life on Earth was theoretically possible.
Bismuth-209 is radioactive, decaying like any other unstable atom over time and emitting radiation as it goes. But its rate of alpha decay is slower than any other.
In World War I, phenol was a key ingredient in aspirin, explosives, and phonograph records. German agents secretly redirected Thomas Edison’s excess phenol supply to prevent it being used for British bombs.
Radiocarbon dating only works on organic material, so how do you accurately measure the last time rocks and sediment saw sunlight? Luminescence dating.
In many parts of the world it is traditional to celebrate by firing guns in the air. But what happens to the bullets?
Enrico Fermi switched on the first human-made nuclear reactor in 1942, but the first natural nuclear reactor on Earth occurred 1.7 billion years earlier.
For more than 1700 years, mithridate and theriac were Europe’s ultimate medicines. A concoction of up to sixty-four ingredients – including cinnamon, turpentine, and poppy – they were supposed to neutralise any poison or plague.
Aircraft can punch cloud holes that are much larger than the plane itself.
The 1952 Miller-Urey experiment synthesised amino acids essential to life from inorganic materials. The experiment’s vials were then sealed, and when scientists re-examined them 55 years later they were surprised at what was inside.