Physics explains what happens when a lawn sprinkler sucks in water
Science News for Students
by Emily Conover
6h ago
Physicists are fascinated by many grand puzzles. The nature of space and time? Sure. How the universe came to be? Of course. But how lawn sprinklers spin? Yes, that too. In the 1980s, physicist Richard Feynman made one sprinkler-related question quite popular. It centered on a style of sprinkler that squirts water out the ends of an S-shaped tube. The sprinkler normally spins away from the escaping water. But what happens if you stick the sprinkler in a tank of water and have it suck in water? The question seems simple. But it involves complex fluid flows — and complex rules of physics. Some p ..read more
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This space physicist uses radios to study eclipses
Science News for Students
by Aaron Tremper
6h ago
Next month, Nathaniel Frissell will lead a worldwide effort to collect data during the solar eclipse. Frissell is a space physicist at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. But he won’t be investigating the eclipse with a telescope or spectrometer. He’ll be teaming up with amateur radio, or ham radio, operators to collect data through the organization Ham Radio Science Citizen Investigation, or HamSCI, to study the ionosphere.  Ham radio operators are located around the world. They might use their radios to talk to people in their town or in another country. Some help during emergen ..read more
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Which way is up? Insects may lose track near artificial lights
Science News for Students
by Erin Garcia de Jesús
1d ago
People have long watched moths and other flying insects flock to streetlamps, porch lights and flames. These insects appear captivated by the light. But new data suggest they may just lose track of which way is up. Insects naturally turn their backs toward light. But when that light is from an artificial source, it may send their sense of direction topsy-turvy. If they lose track of where the ground is, insects can end up flying in circles or diving toward the ground. That’s the conclusion of a new study. Its findings appeared January 30 in Nature Communications. This result is the first “sati ..read more
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Scientists Say: Marcescence
Science News for Students
by Katie Grace Carpenter
1d ago
Marcescence (noun, “mar-SES-sense”) Marcescence is when a plant clings to its dry autumn leaves through the winter. As summer turns to autumn, the leaves of many trees wither and fall. But some trees hold onto their leaves straight through until spring. Scientists describe trees with this unusual quality as marcescent. Deciduous trees, such as maple and beech, carry out the familiar seasonal cycle. New leaves bud in spring. Those leaves mature through summer, then die in the autumn and break away. Think of marcescent trees as a special case of deciduous tree — one that skips that last step. R ..read more
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Reindeer can chew food in their sleep
Science News for Students
by Laura Sanders
1d ago
Animals have developed many impressive techniques to sleep under tough conditions. Some seals sleep while diving deep below predators. Frigate birds sleep in the air during long-haul flights. Now, a new study finds that reindeer can sleep while eating.   Researchers shared the finding on January 22 in Current Biology.  Arctic reindeer live in the far North. There, the sun can shine around the clock in summer. At that time of year, food is abundant — and Arctic reindeer get busy eating it. Like other ruminant animals, reindeer spend a lot of time chewing regurgitated food, c ..read more
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Spiders that fall into water use reflected light to find land
Science News for Students
by Madeline Reinsel
5d ago
Spiders really like to hang out in Brian Gall’s kayak. While flinging eight-legged stowaways out of his boat one day, the biologist noticed an interesting pattern. After landing on the water’s surface, these arachnids quickly darted to the nearest shoreline. No matter how far Gall paddled from dry land, they seemed to know which way to go.  The passengers were elongate stilt spiders (Tetragnatha elongata). This species spins webs on the edges of ponds and streams to catch prey. So it’s not unusual for the spiders to tumble into the water. When they do, they rely on surface tension to skit ..read more
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Physics explains why poured water burbles the way it does
Science News for Students
by Emily Conover
1w ago
Ah, the refreshing sound of a cool drink of water being poured. You might feel thirsty just thinking about it. Or, if you’re a scientist, you might feel curious. Mouad Boudina certainly was. He’s a mechanical engineer at Seoul National University in South Korea. He and his colleagues wanted to know how pouring conditions affect the volume of cascading water. The key, they learned, was how much a stream of water rippled as it fell. As a smooth stream of water falls, it tends to form lumps and bumps. Then, it breaks into droplets. (This happens due to a physics effect called the Rayleigh-Plateau ..read more
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Let’s learn about birdwatching for beginners
Science News for Students
by Maria Temming
1w ago
The annual Great Backyard Bird Count is almost upon us! Each year, from February 16 to 19, people around the world count the birds they see outside for as little as 15 minutes and share their list of sightings. Scientists can then use those data to better understand global bird populations. People new to birdwatching are more than welcome to participate in the count. But if you’ve never birded before, you might wonder why it’s worthwhile or how to start. We asked Science News Explores editorial assistant and master naturalist, Aaron Tremper, about the joys of birdwatching and tips for beginner ..read more
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Scientists Say: 2-D Material
Science News for Students
by Maria Temming
1w ago
2-D material (noun, “Too-dee Muh-TEE-ree-uhl”) So-called two-dimensional, or 2-D, materials are super flat. These materials are not literally two-dimensional. They have length, width and height. But they’re just one or two atoms thick. So their height is practically zero. Hence: 2-D material. Graphene is the most famous of these materials. But there are many other 2-D materials with a wide range of useful properties. Graphene is a single layer of carbon atoms bonded together. It’s super strong, lightweight and flexible. That could make it useful for making small, bendy electronics. Or it coul ..read more
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Have you seen Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster? Probably not 
Science News for Students
by Meghan Rosen
1w ago
There were drones, there were boats. There were spotters on land. There was a hydrophone listening for suspicious sounds underwater. This past summer, crowds of people gathered in Scotland to hunt for any sign of a legendary creature: the Loch Ness Monster. This may have been the biggest search of its kind in 50 years.  Nearly 6,000 kilometers (3,700 miles) away, data scientist Floe Foxon emailed the event’s organizers. He wished them good luck. “I’m sure it’s going to be a fun weekend,” he wrote. Foxon wasn’t joining them. But from his home office in Pittsburgh, Penn., he has examined Ne ..read more
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