Physicists Finally Discover Why Grapes Ignite in the Microwave

Consider the humble grape. Small, spheroid, with pleasantly taut skin, leaving a burst of sweetness on the tongue. Hardly a fruit you'd need to defend yourself against. Put a gently touching pair in the microwave, though, and the inoffensive fruit turns into a literal firecracker. Within just a few seconds, microwaved grapes will begin sparking as if electrified, and in some cases they'll even produce a flash of plasma bright enough to make the microwave glow from the inside out. (An alte

First Evidence of a Giant Exoplanet Collision

For the first time ever, astronomers think they've discovered an exoplanet that survived a catastrophic collision with another planet. And according to the new research, which was published Feb. 4, in the journal Nature Astronomy, the evidence for the impact comes from two twin exoplanets that seem to be more fraternal than identical. Mass Matters The pair of planets in question orbit a Sun-like star (along with two other planets) in the Kepler-107 system, which is located roughly 1,700 li

Why Do We Forget Things? It May Make The Mind More Efficient

In the quest to fend off forgetfulness, some people build a palace of memory. It’s a method for memorizing invented in ancient times by (legend has it) the Greek poet Simonides of Ceos, more recently made popular by multiple best-selling books (and the “mind palace” of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes). Memory palaces provide imaginary architectural repositories for storing and retrieving anything you would like to remember. Sixteen centuries ago, St. Augustine spoke of “tr

Think You Love Your Partner? It’s Complicated

Valentine cards are filled with expressions of unequivocal adoration and appreciation. That’s fitting for the holiday set aside to express love and reaffirm commitment to one’s romantic partner. But what if there’s more going on below the surface of these adoring declarations? How might thoughts and feelings that people are not even aware of shape their romantic relationships? We are two psychology researchers interested in how the mind works, and how it affects a variety of experi

Japan’s Hayabusa 2 Mission Will Mine an Asteroid This Week

The Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa 2 is ready to touch down on asteroid Ryugu and should do so later this week. On Monday morning, Japanese officials confirmed that the spacecraft will attempt to land at 6 p.m. EST on Thursday, Feb. 21. The spacecraft has been in orbit around Ryugu since June of 2018. Once it reaches the surface, it will start its main mission of collecting samples from Ryugu’s surface. Eventually, it will return those samples to Earth for study. Originally, the lander had

Researchers Trace the Origins of Thousands of Ancient European Megaliths

(Inside Science) – New research suggests that megaliths -- monuments such as Stonehenge created from large rocks during the Stone and Copper Ages in Europe -- owe their origins to a mysterious culture from northwest France with advanced seafaring technology. Roughly 35,000 megaliths are known throughout Europe, including standing stones, stone circles and megalithic tombs. Most megaliths date from 4500 to 2500 B.C., are concentrated in coastal areas along the Atlantic and Mediterranean an

Trick Your Friends Into Installing Smartphone Updates

Even though Apple can sometimes mess up iOS updates pretty good, the updates that fix these issues are important. So much so, that you really should install them the day they come out. However, most people probably aren’t scanning the web, nor their Settings app, to see when a new iOS update is available.

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A Philosopher Asked Physicists: ‘What is a Black Hole?’

Ask a dozen physicists what a black hole is, and you may get a dozen different answers – at least if those physicists are from different sub-fields. But new philosophy research suggests that may be okay, and may even lead to more interesting findings for black holes in the future. Such is the conclusion of Erik Curiel, who asked many different physicists across a range of research fields how they defined a black hole. Curiel works at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy at Ludwig

Travel the World with a Total Stranger for Free

There’s nothing more sobering than traveling with a friend for the first time. You very quickly learn their travel “quirks” like they hate walking too much or their teeth grind when they sleep (I’m not saying I know someone who does this, but I’m also not not saying that).

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Tell Us Your Public Transit Hacks

This week on Hack Your City, we’re not taking hacks for one city—we’re taking hacks for all of them. We want your tips on taking public transit, wherever you live. For example! In New York, a free ride on the Staten Island Ferry is a well-known alternative to a trip to the Statue of Liberty. But a less appreciated…

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