Are cats solid or liquid?

If you try to sit on a pond or drink a chair, you’ll quickly realize there’s a significant difference between solids and liquids. The rule of thumb I learned in school is that a liquid takes the form of its container. Then again, that would make this cat a liquid.

So the line between liquids and solids is a little more blurred than we’re told. Continue reading

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Changing environments level evolutionary playing fields

Where you grow up has a lot of influence on you, even if you are a bacterium. But when it changes, it makes life—and evolution—a lot more random.

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Colors and flavors of quarks

A quark’s color can be red, green, or blue. That’s fine. A quark’s flavor is, well… strange. Or charm, up, down, top, or bottom. How did scientists come up with such odd flavors?

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Thunder before lightning: the new gravitational waves discovery

Since the first time gravitational waves were detected, people compared them to “hearing” the universe. Indeed, it’s a completely new way of observing the universe, one that does not need light. But it sure is an odd sort of “sound”.

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Why LIGO won

Awarding the Nobel prize for physics to something related to gravitational waves was a matter of when—not if. Still, one could have argued it was too early: gravitational waves were not a surprise discovery.

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How growth freezes change (in bacteria)

When we think of evolution, we think natural selection, survival of the fittest. But that’s not all. Primal forces lurk work in the background. When selection disappears, they finally break free.

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Cassini: the end of a legend

20 years after it launched, the NASA spacecraft Cassini ends its mission today. Its 13 years in orbit culminate in one last mission: to dive into the planet’s atmosphere, while still measuring and transmitting data.

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