Popular Science Articles

Cosmic microwave background. Courtesy ESA/Planck.

Big Space: Our cosmic horizon is both unreachable and closer than ever

Katie Mack. 31 July 2020

Space, as they say, is big. In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979), Douglas Adams elaborates: ‘You may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to space.’ It’s hard to convey in everyday terms the enormity of the cosmos…

Synthesizing the heaviest elements in space

Charles Day. 31 October 2019

On 17 August 2017 the LIGO and Virgo detectors observed the gravitational waves emitted by two neutron stars as they spiraled into each other and merged. Seventy observatories promptly trained their instruments on the event, dubbed GW170817, to look for an afterglow…

Lower limit on the half-life of neutrinoless double-beta decay

Heather Hill. 15 October 2019

The standard model of particle physics says neutrinos should be massless, but experiments have shown that they have a small but nonzero mass—the subject of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics. Several methods…

Neutron-rich magnesium has unexpected transitions

Christine Middleton. 25 February 2019

Light, stable nuclei typically contain approximately the same number of protons and neutrons. Although isotopes can be generated that stray far from that balance, there is a limit, known as the drip line…

A decay with an extraordinary half-life

Andrew Giant. 25 February 2019

Dark-matter detectors are designed to pick out electroweak interactions that occur extremely rarely. Besides seeking to identify what most of the universe is made of, the detectors can also probe exotic weak-force…