Learn the Basics
Whether you prefer your science short & sweet or long & detailed, we spell it out for you here in easy-to-understand language.
It's hard enough to weigh something as itty bitty as atoms or molecules. Factor in that they're careening by faster than Jeff Gordon on steroids, and you get an idea what scientists are up against. Using comet particles from NASA's Stardust mission as an example, this article explains how scientists measure atoms, and what kind of secrets they can uncover in the process.
Why do physicists want to study things at temperatures so cold atomic motion almost comes to a halt? And how do they create such frigid environments, anyway? Read on for the what, how and why of low temperature physics.
It may look like a simple black blob, but an oil drop is in fact a phenomenally complex mix of immense (relatively speaking) molecules called hydrocarbons. Using a type of mass spectrometry called FT-ICR (in which the MagLab is a world leader), scientists can analyze oil and other macromolecules with amazing precision, uncovering important secrets in the process.
These awesome diagnostic tools, powered by strong superconducting magnets, save countless lives with their ability to pinpoint tumors and other abnormalities.
They don't call it super for nothing. Once you get a superconductor going, it'll keep on ticking like the Energizer Bunny, only a lot longer. The catch is, it needs to be kept colder than Pluto.
If your knowledge of magnets ends with posting a to-do list on the fridge, add this to the list: Learn more about magnets! You can start here with a straightforward rundown of magnet types, uses and strengths, explained in a way that will help make the facts stick.
Fear not, right-brained friends: Science and art intersect in plenty of places, and this is one of them. Samuel Taylor Coleridge lends a hand as we explore cryogenics – how to get things fantastically frigid – and the fascinating element that makes it all possible.