Physical Sciences

  • Desert ants’ survival strategy emerges from millions of simple interactions

    Friday, Feb 15, 2019
    by Molly Sharlach, Office of Engineering Communications

    Ants’ frenzied movements may seem aimless and erratic to a casual observer, but closer study reveals that an ant colony’s collective behavior can help it thrive in a harsh environment and may also yield inspiration for robotic systems.

  • Massive 1994 Bolivian earthquake reveals mountains 660 kilometers below our feet

    Thursday, Feb 14, 2019
    by Liz Fuller-Wright, Office of Communications

    Most schoolchildren learn that the Earth has three (or four) layers: a crust, mantle and core, which is sometimes subdivided into an inner and outer core. That’s not wrong, but it does leave out several other layers that scientists have identified within the Earth, including the transition zone within the mantle.

  • Princeton IP accelerator funding awarded to seven promising technologies

    Wednesday, Feb 6, 2019
    by Catherine Zandonella, Office of the Dean for Research

    Seven innovations with the potential to benefit society and spur the economy have been awarded funding to bridge the gap between laboratory research and the development needed to move promising ideas into the global marketplace.

  • Science historian Gordin discusses Mendeleev’s periodic table, now turning 150 years old

    Friday, Feb 1, 2019
    by Liz Fuller-Wright, Office of Communications

    A century and a half ago, a Russian chemistry professor published a classification of all the known elements, organized by atomic weight. Today, the system that he created for his students — plus some updates and including about twice as many elements — is found in chemistry classrooms around the world.

  • Remote-control plasma physics experiment is named one of top Webcams of 2018

    Tuesday, Jan 22, 2019
    by Larry Bernard, Communications Director, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

    Want to create your own plasma? You can create and control a plasma from the comfort of your own device.

    The Remote Glow Discharge Experiment (RGDX) at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) allows you to turn on a plasma and change the gas pressure, the voltage, and the strength of the electromagnets surrounding it from wherever you are. From a web browser, you can control a plasma with a magnetic field, the same way scientists control a plasma in a tokamak, the magnetic devices that scientists use in fusion experiments.

  • Fiery sighting: A new physics of eruptions that damage fusion experiments

    Wednesday, Jan 16, 2019
    by John Greenwald, Science Editor, Princeton Plasma Physics Lab

    Sudden bursts of heat that can damage the inner walls of tokamak fusion experiments are a hurdle that operators of the facilities must overcome. Such bursts, called “edge localized modes (ELMs),” occur in doughnut-shaped tokamak devices that house the hot, charged plasma that is used to replicate on Earth the power that drives the sun and other stars. Now researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have directly observed a possible and previously unknown process that can trigger damaging ELMs.

  • Going quantum to unlock plants' secrets

    Tuesday, Jan 15, 2019
    by Kevin McElwee for the Office of the Dean for Research

    When it comes to green living, nobody does it better than plants. When plants convert light into fuel through photosynthesis, not a single particle of light is wasted. If we could unlock plants’ secrets, we might be able to perfect the design of light harvesting in solar cells.

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