Cathal O’Connell

Cathal O’Connell

Cathal O'Connell is a science writer based in Melbourne.

Cathal is a science writer, with a background in physics, who is based in Melbourne. He is also a researcher at St Vincent’s Hospital where he is developing technology to 3-D print body parts.  Through science writing he gives voice to an inner child still obsessed with space, relativity and quantum mechanics.

  • Quantum computing for the qubit curious

    Quantum computers could change the world.

    What is quantum computing? Regular computers operate according to strict rules of logic. But tiny quantum objects – s...

    July 5, 2019
  • The future of in-space manufacturing

    Hoisting heavy machinery into space is expensive.

    The great advantage of being a crew member in Star Trek was that you had “replicators” to create any object you neede...

    January 31, 2019
  • The ray-gun is no longer science fiction

    The idea of the ray-gun has been central to science-fiction for decades. Now it’s science fact. C...

    “However it is done, it is certain that a beam of heat is the essence of the matter. Heat, and invisible, instead of ...

    October 2, 2018
  • Technologies inspired by nature

    Nature has come up with some solutions for everything.

    HIVE MIND GRID Though nobody ever tells them what to do, bees in a hive instinctively sense what jobs need doing and ...

    July 9, 2018
  • A telescope the size of the Earth

    A combination of nine radio telescopes around the globe promises to produce the best ever image o...

    The most ferocious storm in our galaxy rages right at its centre. It is a maelstrom hotter than any star: a swirling ...

    July 8, 2018
  • A bird? A plane? Car, actually.

    One dream of automotive futurists has never really taken off. Cathal O’Connell has high hopes the...

    Pull out of your driveway, push a button and take off. The flying car is a futuristic dream that has long been just o...

    May 24, 2018
  • The search for cosmic strings

    Filaments of raw energy may be threaded through spacetime.

    Our universe exploded into being, expanded at a fantastic speed and cooled. Perhaps too quickly. Some physicists beli...

    April 24, 2018
  • Reusable rockets explained

    Reusable rockets can slash the cost of getting into space.

    The bottom of the ocean is a rocket graveyard – littered with the expended shells of thousands of rockets used to sen...

    February 6, 2018
  • Supernova simulation shows source of cosmic rays and solar flares

    Physicists have taken an important step towards creating a tiny stellar explosion in the laborato...

    Shockwaves in plasma can whizz particles up to tremendous speeds, according to new computer simulations that confirm ...

    November 16, 2017
  • Spin doctors summon coppers

    Scientists are getting the hang of a very weird state of matter.

    Imagine three toddlers, but only two toys to share between them. The result? Three frustrated toddlers. Using this b...

    October 26, 2017
  • Universe shouldn’t exist, say CERN physicists

    Proton and antiproton have identical magnetic properties.

    One of the great mysteries of modern physics is why antimatter did not destroy the universe at the beginning of time....

    October 22, 2017
  • World’s greatest game-playing computer thrashed by its next-gen

    The program that beat the human champion of the fiendishly difficult game Go has itself been beat...

    In a development eerily reminiscent of Skynet’s evolution in The Terminator, the world’s greatest Go-playing computer...

    October 18, 2017
  • Closing in on dark matter

    Physicists are methodically searching for elusive particles.

    One Saturday I hired a metal detector and drove four hours to the historic gold-rush town of Bright in Victoria, Aust...

    October 17, 2017
  • Gravitational waves snare the Nobel prize

    Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish and Kip Thorne awarded Nobel Prize.

    Rainer Weiss (left) and Kip Thorne at the announcement of the first detection of gravitational waves in February 2016...

    October 3, 2017
  • The world’s biggest X-ray laser blasts into action

    European XFEL unlock unseen details of the molecular world.

    It’s on. The world’s most powerful X-ray laser, the European X-ray Free Electron Laser, has blasted its first sample....

    September 14, 2017
  • How big is the universe?

    There is no bigger empirical question in astrophysics than how big space is. Cathal O’Connell pro...

    “Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a lo...

    July 17, 2017
  • CubeSats: exploring other planets on a budget

    Space missions used to be so expensive only superpowers could afford them. Thanks to CubeSats thi...

    “Any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win t...

    May 25, 2017
  • Ripples in spacetime

    Quantum entanglement improve gravitational wave detectors.

    In new work that connects two of Albert Einstein’s ideas in a way he could scarcely have imagined, physicists have pr...

    May 16, 2017
  • Telepathic computer reads your mind to see what you see

    Brain imaging data provides a new window on the mind. Cathal O’Connell reports.

    A new algorithm can analyse brain scans to determine what someone is looking at.Detroit Free Press / GettyScientists ...

    May 8, 2017
  • Physicists breed Schrödinger’s cats

    In hopes to find boundaries of the quantum realm.

    Entangled cats? Stranger things could happen if quantum rules scaled up to the everyday world. Credit: Ryan Schneider...

    May 1, 2017
  • Fighting the common fate of humans: to better life and beat death

    Are we ready for transhuman bodies and the real possibility of conquering death?

    The oldest surviving great work of literature tells the story of a Sumerian king, Gilgamesh, whose historical equival...

    May 1, 2017
  • Reaching for the stars: the top ideas in space travel

    The latest projects funded by NASA read like a sci-fi anthology, reports Cathal O’Connell

    A starship drive, a vacuum airship, solar surfing. NASA has awarded funding to 22 new projects as part of the NASA In...

    April 24, 2017
  • How to 3D print optical-grade glass

    German researchers use new method to 3D print microscopic glass lenses and more, writes Cathal O’...

    A demonstration of the heat resistance of a printed glass structure.Kotz et al. / NeptunLabAncient material meets adv...

    April 20, 2017
  • Astronomers detect faintest ever early-universe galaxy

    The discovery sheds light on the epoch of re-ionisation and used a giant cluster of galaxies as a...

    A Hubble Space Telescope image showing gravitational lensing of a blue background galaxy.NASA/HSTSometimes an ordinar...

    April 10, 2017
  • Nano-holes punch a path to photonic computing

    A new technique – punching nanoscale holes in silicon wafers – speeds up data transfers and bring...

    A computer-generated image modeling the propagation of photons through a silicon wafer after they enter a tapered nan...

    April 3, 2017
  • Superfluid storm erupts

    A superfluid stirred never stops. Everyone knows, right? Wrong.

    One of the major discoveries of the last century of physics has been flipped on its head. Scientists have discovered ...

    March 28, 2017
  • Two quantum physicists walk in and out of a bar

    Can humour be reduced to a pure equation?

    One of the great mysteries of the human mind is surely the pun. Just why are they funny? To explain it, researchers h...

    March 20, 2017
  • Absence of dark matter startles astronomers

    The spin of extremely old and distant galaxies shows they are dominated by regular matter rather ...

    A spiral galaxy.NASAWe know that galaxies today move according to the wishes of an invisible choreographer—the myster...

    March 16, 2017
  • Star Trek, Dr Who inspire quantum cleverness

    Science fiction inspiration has led to a diamond-studded detection device. Cathal O’Connell reports.

    Who knew? Star Trek's tricorder is one step closer to reality.Joe HauptInspired by Dr Who’s sonic screwdriver and the...

    March 9, 2017
  • Scientists create the first supersolid

    A paradoxical material that flows easily but is crystalline.

    Nothing is certain in the quantum world, not even the distinction between a coffee cup and the liquid inside it. Aft...

    March 6, 2017
  • In the quantum world, identity is a hazy idea

    Making one atom look like another is all a trick of the light.

    The colours emitted by an atom are a dead giveaway for its identity, but now American physicists have worked out how ...

    February 27, 2017
  • Disney develops wireless electricity

    Soon you might be able to charge your phone just by entering a room, and it’s not a Mickey Mouse ...

    Shanghai Disneyland's Tomorrowland depicts a high-tech future – thanks to Disney it's more likely to be a wireless on...

    February 24, 2017
  • 5 of the biggest mysteries of modern physics

    New theory extends the standard model of particle physics.

    It’s five theories for the price of one. One of the most ambitious physics theories in recent times claims to have so...

    February 19, 2017
  • A 600-year-old quantum experiment in the stars

    To dictate how entangled photons on Earth were measured.

    Physicists have used the light of stars some 600 light-years from Earth to validate a bizarre quantum phenomenon Albe...

    February 16, 2017
  • Sun’s own light may be slowing its surface spin

    Is this the answer to a 20-year mystery?

    More than 20 years since mystified solar physicists saw the surface of the sun spinning slower than its insides, we m...

    February 6, 2017
  • Book: Fashion, Faith and Fantasy

    Author asks hard questions about modern theories of the universe.

    NON-FICTION Fashion, Faith and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe by Roger Penrose Princeton University Pres...

    February 4, 2017
  • An extragalactic void is shoving our galaxy from behind

    What causes some galaxies to speed along faster than others? The answer, it turns out, is nothing...

    An artist's impression of the Milky Way galaxy. There's a large region of nothing in our extragalactic neighbourhood ...

    January 30, 2017
  • Physicists make something from nothing

    ‘Squeezed light’ more sensitive gravitational wave detectors.

    One of the more absurd facts of the universe is that empty space is never empty. At tiny scales particles are constan...

    January 22, 2017
  • AI predicts and fixes qubit failure

    Machine learning kept unstable quantum bits in line.

    Imagine predicting your car will break down and being able to replace the faulty part before it becomes a problem. No...

    January 16, 2017
  • Robot security guards: can they keep us safe?

    Almost 30 years since Robocop hit our screens, robot security guards like Knightscope’s K5 could ...

    Anthony CalvertED-209 Enforcement Droid: [menacingly] Please put down your weapon. You have 20 seconds to comply. Alm...

    January 11, 2017
  • Laser excites antimatter atoms for first time

    Antihydrogen acts like normal hydrogen when bathed in light.

    For the first time, physicists probed an atom of antimatter with laser light – and found no detectable difference bet...

    December 19, 2016
  • New theory of ‘dark gravity’ passes first test

    The theory has been supported by a study of over 30,000 galaxies.

    Theoretical physics is a bit like professional boxing. Everybody wants to have a crack at the champ. In one corner, ...

    December 12, 2016
  • After the LHC, which crowned King Collider?

    Particle physics is petrolhead science.

    The Large Hadron Collider is a wonder of the modern world, our version of the great pyramid at Giza, but built by 10,...

    December 11, 2016
  • Was the speed of light faster at the beginning?

    Aim to explain the uniform temperature of the universe.

    They don’t make light like they used to. Today’s light, chugging along at 299,792,458 metres per second, would have b...

    December 5, 2016
  • NASA measured ‘impossible’ EM thrust – but is it really a big deal?

    The copper bucket that supposedly breaks physics has finally passed peer-review. But, Cathal O’Co...

    The 'copper bucket' – or EM drive prototype – in a vacuum chamber.NASATwo years ago, NASA scientists announced they m...

    November 28, 2016
  • Most entangled photons plus ‘twistiest’ light

    Light split & twirled to generate most entangled photons to date.

    Quantum computers hold huge promise, but the current state of the art is dishearteningly basic – the equivalent of an...

    November 21, 2016
  • Space starshade to better see exoplanets

    A flower-like starshade could give astronomers a direct look at planets orbiting distant stars. C...

    Anthony CalvertForty billion. That’s the number of habitable, Earth-like planets in our galaxy. But do any of them ho...

    November 14, 2016
  • Chemical bond makes giant butterfly molecules

    An electron corrals a nearby atom closer, creating a giant molecule.

    Physicists built a new, supersized molecule made of atoms held together by a far-roaming electron – like a flock of s...

    November 14, 2016
  • The Second Law of Thermodynamics

    Physicists closer to a ‘quantum perpetual motion machine’.

    Isaac Asimov's short story The Last Question follows the human race over a trillion-year quest to circumvent the Seco...

    November 7, 2016
  • Can corkscrewing lasers solve physics mystery?

    How to create as-yet evasive magnetic monopoles.

    What happens when you fire two intensely powerful lasers at one another? You might just solve a century-long physics ...

    November 2, 2016
  • Dark energy may not exist

    2011 Nobel physics laureates shouldn’t return their prize yet …

    One of the most baffling results in modern physics was the discovery that the universe is tearing itself apart. In th...

    October 25, 2016
  • Spinning galaxies question dark matter

    New ‘law of nature’ predicts galaxy rotation.

    Some 80 years after dark matter was first theorised, we still have no idea what it is. Now, a new study casts doubt o...

    October 17, 2016
  • Computer solves a major time travel problem

    The ‘grandfather paradox’ of time travel has puzzled for years.

    It is more than 120 years since H.G. Wells published The Time Machine, the novel that was to popularise the concept o...

    October 10, 2016
  • HyperCells: buildings that can build themselves

    Smart bricks that can self-assemble into structures could be the key to future disaster relief. C...

    anthony calvertPicture this scenario: two hours after a bridge is destroyed in an earthquake, its replacement arrives...

    October 9, 2016
  • Topology explained – and why you’re a donut

    The field that won researchers the Nobel Prize in Physics?

    You are a donut. Let me explain – it boils down to topology, or the maths of shapeshifting, stretching and pulling, b...

    October 7, 2016
  • Blobs of ancient dark matter shed light

    Clumps could provide insight on the Big Bang.

    Through the light of ancient galaxies astronomers can watch the evolution of the universe like a movie, but one that’...

    October 3, 2016
  • Stopped light means go for quantum computers

    ‘Stationary light’ could lead to quantum logic gates.

    Australian physicists have brought quantum computing a step closer by bringing light to a standstill. This kind of sy...

    September 26, 2016
  • Physicists build mirrors from just 1,000 atoms

    Mirror for making optical circuits and quantum computers.

    Mirror, mirror in mid-air. Two independent teams of physicists have created the world’s most ethereal mirrors – made ...

    September 26, 2016
  • Quantum hotline

    Information ‘teleported’ across metropolitan fibre networks.

    They’re teleporting through the streets. Physicists have teleported quantum information across the cities of Hefei, C...

    September 19, 2016
  • Glimpses of the Madala boson

    Have we detected the dark Higgs?

    Has lightning struck twice at the Large Hadron Collider? Using the same data used to discover the Higgs boson in 2012...

    September 12, 2016
  • The many potential lives of ‘Earth-twin’ planet Proxima b

    It’s been called humanity’s best chance for a second planet, but two NASA papers suggest life on ...

    This artist’s impression shows a view of the surface of the planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Cent...

    September 5, 2016
  • Alien megastructure ‘discovery’: a review of the facts

    Two recent stories suggest extraterrestrial life is alive and well – and advanced enough to build...

    An artist's impression of a Dyson sphere – a collection of energy-harvesting components built around a sun by an alie...

    August 31, 2016
  • Physicists discovered a fifth force of nature?

    This would be a revolution of almost Einsteinian proportions.

    At first glance, the news is ground-breaking. A team of American particle physicists, building on some Hungarian work...

    August 22, 2016
  • Five physics lessons for Olympic athletes

    Olympics stirring demonstration of human physical achievement.

    In the 200m sprint, the outside lane is actually the fastest (if not the best) Surprisingly, the speed of a sprinter ...

    August 15, 2016
  • Tantalising LHC ‘blip’ not a particle after all

    An exotic new particle disappear in a deluge of new data.

    It was good while it lasted. For the past eight months particle physicists debated the meaning of a mysterious ‘blip’...

    August 8, 2016
  • ‘Tractor beams’ build atom-by-atom assembly

    Physicists have manipulated 50 individual atoms at once.

    Have you ever tried to catch a speck of dust between your fingers? That’s challenging enough, but what about catching...

    July 25, 2016
  • Latest search for dark matter draws a blank

    At least we now know a little better what dark matter is not.

    Physicists assemble the LUX (Large Underground Xenon) detector deep inside the Homestake mine. Credit: John B. Carnet...

    July 21, 2016
  • What shape are photons? Holography sheds light

    Physicists created a hologram of a single light particle.

    Imagine a shaft of yellow sunlight beaming through a window. Quantum physics tells us that beam is made of zillions o...

    July 20, 2016
  • Gravity tested with quantum spin

    A rethink of some theories of quantum mechanics.

    Italian astronomer and scientist Galileo Galilei performs his legendary experiment – dropping a cannonball and a wood...

    July 11, 2016
  • Pear-shaped nuclei help search for antimatter

    Discovery of an extremely rare, bulged atomic nucleus.

    Physicists have found an isotope of the element barium with an extremely rare pear-shaped nucleus – and it’s unlike a...

    July 7, 2016
  • CERN finds four new X particles

    CERN have discovered a family of new ‘exotic’ particles.

    What’s just happened? Physicists at CERN have discovered four new “tetraquark” particles – unusual arrangements of f...

    July 4, 2016
  • Models of the universe as Einstein saw it

    Physicists model the universe in its full glory.

    Einstein’s full theory of general relativity has been used to precisely model the universe’s evolution for the first ...

    June 27, 2016
  • Quantum effects are key to DNA electronics

    Could the molecule of life become the molecule of electronics?

    The patterns of DNA base pairs, which code our genes, can also be used to tune the flow of electricity, American rese...

    June 20, 2016
  • What is light?

    Electromagnetic wave, photons… What does all this mean?

    Imagine you’re in a park, looking at a leaf on the branch of a tree. We know light bounces off the leaf to your eye t...

    June 13, 2016
  • The dark side of the universe – a primer

    Dark matter, dark energy, even a dark force.

    Over the past 40 years astronomers have realised that everything we can see – all the stars, planets and galaxies – m...

    June 6, 2016
  • Universe expanding at unexplainable rate

    Perhaps only dark physics can explain the rate of expansion.

    Cepheid variable stars in this spiral galaxy, known as UGC 9391, and a Type Ia supernova (not visible in this image) ...

    June 3, 2016
  • Sky nets: the new anti-drone defence system

    Unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, can be a risk to security, but shooting them down is not alway...

    anthony CalvertIn the wee hours of January 2015, a drone crashed on the lawn of the White House causing a major panic...

    June 1, 2016
  • The super science of superconductivity

    Superconductors finding more uses for modern technology.

    What are superconductors? All the electronic devices around you – your phone, your computer, even your bedside lamp –...

    May 30, 2016
  • First contact: How we’ll get the news that we found aliens

    Cathal O’Connell explains the challenges that will face scientists when they break the biggest ne...

    However unlikely contact with aliens may be, scientists are thinking about how they would break the news to a nervous...

    May 23, 2016
  • AI learns prize-winning experiment

    AI runs complex Nobel prize quantum experiment.

    A team of Australian physicists has employed a new research assistant in the form of an artificial intelligence (AI) ...

    May 17, 2016
  • Five visionary ideas inspired by sci-fi

    Some of fiction’s technological inventions were so richly imagined they virtually demanded their ...

    “Anything that one man can imagine, another man can make real.”  - Jules VerneMany scientists chose their profession ...

    May 16, 2016
  • A primer to the theory of (almost) everything

    A guide to the Standard Model of Particle Physics.

    Around the turn of the 4th century BC, the Greek philosopher Democritus caught the smell of baking and thought that l...

    May 9, 2016
  • Equations that changed the course of history

    Pivotal points in human innovation advance.

    Physics equations are forms of magic. They allow us to explain the past, such as why Halley’s comet visits every 76 y...

    May 3, 2016
  • Getting primed for fusion power

    An almost limitless power with few drawbacks.

    Fusion power is such a huge, potentially game-changing technology that it’s easy to get swept up in its utopian promi...

    April 26, 2016
  • Driving the quantum data bus

    Australian scientists have come up with a way to create the vital system that shuttles informatio...

    Quantum information is encoded in single particles of light or photons. The perfect state transfer is applied to one ...

    April 19, 2016
  • How lasers can spot a dirty bomb in the making

    A new device can pick up radioactive signatures hundreds of metres away. Cathal O'Connell rep...

    Radiation is currently picked up by devices such as Geiger counters. But with a range of only a few metres, they're n...

    April 15, 2016
  • 10 technologies inspired by nature

    After 3.5 billion years of intensive R&D, nature has come up with some ingenious solutions for ev...

    An SEM of Velcro shows its similarity to burdock hooks. – Science Photo Library 1. VelcroIn 1941, Swiss ele...

    April 12, 2016
  • Holograms for everyday use

    Augmented reality devices are set to change the way we see the world. Cathal O’Connell explains w...

    Anthony Calvert As the hairdresser holds up a tablet computer to show you your ‘reflection’, you flick your...

    April 7, 2016
  • Five ways to travel through time

    Travel to the past is probably impossible. But to the future?

    In 2009 the British physicist Stephen Hawking held a party for time travellers – the twist was he sent out the invite...

    April 5, 2016
  • Rocket man zooms closer

    Buying a jetpack of your own will soon be possible. Cathal O’Connell explains the technology.

    Anthony Calvert On 3 November last year tourists visiting the Statue of Liberty were startled to see a man ...

    April 4, 2016
  • World’s smelliest superconductor

    Rotten egg gas has the physics world excited.

    Hydrogen sulfide, the molecule that gives rotten eggs their gag-inducing smell, can perfectly conduct electricity at ...

    March 29, 2016
  • Higgsino or hallucination?

    Unexpected particle may open a new realm of physics.

    Out of the formless mist of 400 trillion particle collisions, physicists last December saw a blip in their data. At l...

    March 22, 2016
  • NASA’s plans for deep space propulsion

    10 of the most feasible options available.

    Ion drives, solar sails, fission and fusion ... some of the ideas for powering the next generation of spacecraft have...

    March 18, 2016
  • One small step for bio-bots

    Use it or lose it: steerable miniature worm-like robots built with live muscle cells get stronger...

    Meet a new class of modular muscle-powered walking bio-bots that respond to light. – Ritu Raman, University of Illino...

    March 15, 2016
  • On-chip laser that could have your computer working at the speed of light

    British physicists have made a breakthrough that brings the holy grail of 'silicon photonics&...

    If you’re lucky enough to have a broadband connection by fibre optic cable, you already know about the speed of photo...

    March 8, 2016
  • Quantum computer kills internet banking?

    Is this the beginning of the end for online transactions?

    "SCIENTISTS FACTOR THE NUMBER 15." Hardly a headline to grab the popular imagination. But when it’s done by a quantu...

    March 4, 2016
  • Quantum physics for the terminally confused

    A primer to some bewildering, but vital concepts.

    Does quantum physics melt your brain? First, don’t panic. You’re not alone in your confuddlement. As legendary physic...

    February 29, 2016
  • A different picture of quantum surrealism

    Intuitive theory of how sub-atomic particles behave.

    With its ideas of particles zipping in and out of existence, quantum mechanics is probably the kookiest-sounding theo...

    February 21, 2016
  • How does LIGO look for gravitational waves?

    Think of it as the most sensitive ruler in the galaxy.

    Update: On 12 February 2016 scientists announced they detected gravitational waves using LIGO after its refurbishment...

    February 11, 2016
  • The hyperloop alternative to a very fast train

    A cheaper, swifter means of mass transit by land is on the horizon. By Cathal O’Connell.

    Anthony Calvert You step inside the sleek silvery pod, settle back in your seat. There’s a slight shudder a...

    December 15, 2015
  • Launching a solar sail

    A solar sail uses photons from the Sun to propel its flight in space. By Cathal O’Connell.

    Stowed for launch into space, the LightSail's solar sail folds into a space just 10 x 10 x 20 centimetre in size (lef...

    November 9, 2015
  • Shape-shifting neutrinos that led to a Nobel Prize

    Two scientists have upset the standard model of physics.

    Every second, thousands of billions of high-energy particles called neutrinos fly through your body at close to the s...

    October 19, 2015
  • How a human can climb like a gecko

    Humans will be able to scale sheer glass walls – with gecko-inspired technology. By Cathal O’Conn...

    Anthony Calvert Elliot Hawkes clings to the sheer wall of glass, the ground looming vertiginously below. He...

    September 7, 2015
  • Meet our Solar System’s twin

    A planetary system with a gas giant like Jupiter in an outer orbit and a Sun just like our own ha...

    This chart shows most of the stars visible to the naked eye in the constellation of Cetus (The Whale). The location o...

    August 3, 2015
  • Found: the first stars in creation

    Their short, intense lives ended in giant supernova explosions that formed the first traces of ca...

    Artist’s concept of the first stars in the Universe. New data suggest these stars persisted far longer than many scie...

    July 6, 2015
  • Saved by an ambulance drone

    Built for speed, this new flying doctor leaves paramedics in its wake. By Cathal O’Connell.

    Illustration Anthony Calvert CAMERAThe front-mounted camera gives the pilot a bird’s-eye view to help navig...

    June 29, 2015
  • Time travel and the single atom

    Researchers confirm a profound experiments of quantum physics.

    Andrew Truscott (left) and Ph.D. student Roman Khakimov have conducted an experiment that seems to show the past beha...

    June 22, 2015
  • Metal with a memory

    Scientists develop a new alloy that can return to its original shape – even if it’s been mangled ...

    Shape-memory metals can 'remember' their original shape. When a straightened Nitinol wire is dipped in hot water, it ...

    June 8, 2015
  • Making a robot with bat powers

    Scientists inspired to create a robot with flapping ears.

    The horseshoe bat has an echolocation system so sophisticated that acoustic engineers do not know how it works. – Adi...

    May 25, 2015
  • Cosmic rays reveal thunderstorm secrets

    Clues come from particles floating around the cosmos.

    We don't know what triggers lightning bolts, but physicists hope cosmic rays might provide an answer. – GETTY IMAGES ...

    May 11, 2015
  • The most accurate clock ever made

    A strontium clock can tick for 15 billion years and not lose a second. Cathal O’Connell reports.

    Building the world's most accurate clock is no simple task. At the clock's ticking heart is a chamber filled with str...

    May 4, 2015
  • Breakthrough for quantum computers

    Quantum computing in silicon has moved a step closer to becoming a reality. Cathal O'Connell ...

    Andrea Morello at work. The computer he and his team are trying to build would use silicon chips not dissimilar to th...

    April 27, 2015
  • Enter the graphene era

    Super graphene is ushering in a new industrial age.

    True or false? It’s possible to make a sheet of carbon that is a single atom thick. If you’d asked that question befo...

    April 27, 2015
  • How the chameleon glows in technicolour

    Tiny crystals within their skin are responsible.

    Chameleons don’t change colour to blend in – they do it to show off. Their dazzling displays are intended to face dow...

    March 23, 2015
  • Packing light for Mars

    A microbe factory could more than halve a mission's payload weight. Cathal O'Connell repo...

    We’ve all had trouble squeezing our luggage down to the allowed weight for a flight. But for a trip to Mars that prob...

    March 16, 2015
  • Ancient explosion warps space and time

    An astronomer has spotted four images of the same distant supernova, visual evidence of a cosmic ...

    A distant galaxy (box) acts like an imperfect lens, magnifying but also multiplying light from an ancient supernova t...

    March 16, 2015
  • What tectonic plates float on

    Dynamite shakes the truth from the Earth’s underbelly.

    Any geologist will tell you the Earth’s crust is broken into tectonic plates that “float” around like gigantic rafts....

    February 16, 2015
  • 3D printing takes its lead from the pop-up book

    Scientists are printing electronic circuits that spring up from a flat surface to form tiny 3D co...

    These microscopic 3D structures were designed to be printed on an elastic silicone surface and to pop up when the ten...

    January 27, 2015
  • The myriad uses of amazing graphene

    Graphene has been hailed as a wonder-material.

    What’s stronger than steel, tougher than a diamond and more conductive than copper? It’s graphene. This one atom thi...

    January 12, 2015
  • Astronomers define our place in the cosmos

    The Milky Way is part of a galactic supercluster, which astronomers have named Laniakea, reports ...

    As the Milky Way hurtles through space, it doesn’t travel alone. It is part of a galactic supercluster which a team o...

    October 6, 2014
  • Introducing the knitted circuit board

    Scientists have found a way to knit copper wiring and electronic sensors into fabric with applica...

    Lightweight, stretchy, machine-washable – and electrically conductive: it’s a fabric of the future. Researchers at th...

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  • Measuring gravity: Have we finally cracked it?

    Physicists use a fountain of cold atoms to close in on Big G.

    More than 300 years after Sir Isaac Newton first grappled with calculating the strength of gravity, measurements cont...

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