Jake Port

Jake Port

Jake Port contributes to the Cosmos explainer series.

Jake Port contributes to the Cosmos explainer series.

  • Explainer: The difference between mass and weight

    Though related, they’re actually quite different.

    We often use the words ‘mass’ and ‘weight’ interchangeably, but they mean quite different things. Your mass is the sa...

    April 3, 2018
  • Five senses you didn’t know you had

    The traditional five senses are just the beginning of the ways your body tells you about the worl...

    Taste, smell, touch, sight and hearing: these are the five ‘traditional’ senses that obviously allow us to comprehend...

    March 30, 2018
  • Explainer: How augmented reality lets us overlay a digital world

    Games and entertaining photo filters have demonstrated the potential of augmented reality technol...

    When Pokémon GO was launched in mid-2016, an insular world was suddenly turned inside out. For the very first time in...

    March 27, 2018
  • 10 alien landscapes on Earth

    Other planets may be out of reach, but we are home to many out-of-this-world landscapes.

    Anyone who has studied the images sent back by the space probes and rovers dotted throughout the solar system has no ...

    March 19, 2018
  • Explainer: Why does hair turn grey?

    Everyone knows grey hair is a sign of ageing, but fewer know exactly why. Jake Port explains.

    For many people, grey hair is a fact of life. It’s a sign that we are getting older and that our bodies are going thr...

    January 10, 2018
  • Explainer: cheese and weird dreams?

    Is it possible that cheese really can cause strange dreams?

    It’s common folk wisdom that eating cheese can give you nightmares. But is this really the case? The question hasn’t...

    January 8, 2018
  • What makes the flu turn deadly?

    The influenza virus sweeps through communities each winter, but some years its effects are worse ...

    What is influenza?The influenza virus is a microscopic pathogen – around a thousandth the width of a human hair in si...

    November 7, 2017
  • The best wildlife photography of 2017

    Highlights from the 2017 Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards.

    ‘Memorial to a species’Brent Stirton / Wildlife Photographer of the YearA haunting image of a recently slain black rh...

    October 23, 2017
  • Why are viruses considered non-living?

    Viruses lack many of the features that are the hallmarks of life.

    Viruses are responsible for some of the most dangerous and deadly diseases including influenza, ebola, rabies and sma...

    September 13, 2017
  • Why do we have leap years and leap seconds?

    Clocks and calendars are simplifications of the complex realities of orbital mechanics that deter...

    For around five million ‘leapers’ February 29 is a special day, their birthday. It only happens once every four years...

    August 15, 2017
  • Secret behind fungal spore cannons revealed

    Fungi take advantage of the physics of merging water droplets to fire their spores out into the w...

    Spores use the physics of merging droplets to launch themselves out into the world.Chuan-Hua Chen, Duke UniversityRes...

    July 26, 2017
  • How do vacuum cleaners work?

    The science of the vacuum cleaner is as simple as using one.

    The humble vacuum cleaner is one of the handiest household cleaning appliances used today. Its simple yet effective d...

    July 4, 2017
  • How does a jet engine work?

    Turning fuel into explosive thrust.

    The jet engine has become the mainstay of the aviation industry. Josef P. Willems / Corbis / Getty Modern aviation o...

    June 26, 2017
  • The science of sunscreen

    Why does sunshine cause sunburn and skin cancer, and how does sunscreen help to protect you? Jake...

    Sunscreen can help to protect against harmful radiation.Jamie Grill / GettyWhen we think of life saving inventions, v...

    June 21, 2017
  • Mars as you’ve never seen it before

    Spectacular landscapes of the Red Planet.

    Towering dunes, massive craters, dust devils and fractured landscapes. You’ve never seen Mars quite like this.Since a...

    June 14, 2017
  • How to catch lightning: the magic of Lichtenberg figures

    Lichtenberg figures, or electrical trees, record the path of escaping electric charge when an ins...

    A brilliant flash of light followed by the rumble of thunder: a bolt of lightning has struck, carrying billons of jou...

    June 7, 2017
  • Vantablack, the blackest material ever made

    Light-trapping carbon nanotubes are the secret ingredient.

    The futuristic, eye-wrenching Vantablack coating is billed as “blacker than black”, and it lives up to the claim. The...

    May 31, 2017
  • Why is the sea salty?

    The water on the Earth’s surface was once fresh.

    It is estimated there is enough salt in the world’s oceans to cover all the planet’s land surfaces with a layer about...

    February 28, 2017
  • How rockets and boosters work

    Where does this power come from?

    Three, two, one, liftoff! A spacecraft blasts from the launch pad, propelled by the massive thrust generated by its r...

    January 31, 2017
  • Why do paper cuts hurt so much?

    It’s a tiny cut with a very sharp sting. Jake Port takes a closer look.

    Jozsef Szasz-Fabian / Getty ImagesIt’s one of the most innocuous of injuries, but also one of the most painful – a pa...

    December 21, 2016
  • How do spacesuits keep astronauts safe?

    The freezing cold, micrometeorites and radiation make space dangerous.

    When it’s time to venture outside, astronauts on the international space station first don one of two types of spaces...

    December 21, 2016
  • Hey Siri, how does voice recognition software understand me?

    People are particularly attuned to listening to and comprehending speech. And while computers are...

    Talking to a computer is becoming normal, but there's still a ways to go before they're anywhere near as good as us.k...

    December 14, 2016
  • Shape-shifting wings key to more efficient flight

    Morphing composites, NASA believes, are essential for building ‘green’ planes of the future.

    Using advanced carbon fibre composite building blocks arranged in a lattice, engineers from the NASA Mission Adaptive...

    December 7, 2016
  • How do antiperspirants and deodorants keep us fresh and dry?

    A simple spray or roll-on can keep us smelling sweet and sweat-free for hours. Jake Port explains...

    Someone might want to invest in an antiperspirant.moodboard / Getty Images“Deodorant” and “antiperspirant” are often ...

    December 7, 2016
  • How an Earth-sized telescope will ‘see’ a supermassive black hole

    Jake Port explains how a global network of radio telescopes will image, for the first time, the e...

    The centre of the Milky Way galaxy, with the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*) in the middle, is the fi...

    November 30, 2016
  • Platypus venom ingredient may help treat type 2 diabetes

    The egg-laying mammals evolved remarkable insulin regulation techniques which may have stemmed fr...

    The platypus just got that little bit stranger.Gunter Ziesler / Getty ImagesPlatypuses aren’t entirely the cuddly cre...

    November 30, 2016
  • How does wireless charging work?

    By harnessing the power of magnetic induction!

    It’s a familiar race against time. Your phone is beeping, telling you its battery is almost flat. Meanwhile, you’re h...

    November 22, 2016
  • Synthetic biology to create super carbon absorbers

    Researchers in Germany took 17 enzymes – including three engineered enzymes – from nine different...

    While many scientists work on renewable energy sources to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we pump into the atmosp...

    November 20, 2016
  • Why do stars sparkle?

    It’s all to do with the way light travels through the atmosphere. Jake Port explains.

    ChaNaWiT / Getty ImagesGazing up at the heavens at night, it’s easy to get lost in the beauty and immensity of the un...

    November 15, 2016
  • Stone tools to skeletons: how to uncover an ancient object’s age

    In his latest explainer, Jake Port explores a few of the techniques in an archaeologist and palae...

    Acheulean stone tools, named after the site of St Acheul in France where they were first found, became finer and more...

    November 9, 2016
  • How is gelatine made?

    A detailed story on the ingredient found in many foods – and its origin – in reverse.

    Biting into a piece of soft, squishy candy is a simple pleasure – but did you know the material behind the chewiness ...

    November 8, 2016
  • How does absorbent concrete ‘drink’ so much?

    Keeping roads dry may lie in the road materials themselves

    With heavy rain comes water pooling on roads – and the chance of an accident skyrockets (as any driver who’s lost con...

    November 1, 2016
  • Ten tiny but terrifying micro-monsters

    Truly a rogues gallery to bring on nightmares.

    Forget about the bogeyman in the cupboard or the monster under the bed. These creepy crawlies really might be in your...

    October 28, 2016
  • Breakthrough Listen’s search for alien life

    It’s a question that has puzzled us for millennia: are we alone in the universe? To find out, the University of Calif...

    October 26, 2016
  • Why lithium-ion batteries are prone to exploding

    Samsung killed off its Note 7 due to reports of exploding batteries. But the very reason lithium-...

    Just a month after its launch, the Samsung Note 7 was pulled from shelves amid reports of battery fires. So where did...

    October 25, 2016
  • LIDAR: how self-driving cars ‘see’ where they’re going

    Those spinning units stop autonomous vehicles use laser light to map their surroundings in 3-D. J...

    Google's self-driving cars are topped with a spinning LIDAR scanner. So what is it and how does it work?Kim Kulish / ...

    October 11, 2016
  • How does carbon capture and storage work?

    One approach to the control of carbon emissions.

    When a coal, oil or gas plant burns fuel to create electricity, a major by-product is the greenhouse gas carbon dioxi...

    September 27, 2016
  • Boeing and AIMS team up to protect Great Barrier Reef

    The Great Barrier Reef stretches 2,300 kilometres down Australia's east coast – that's a lot of area to monitor.Andre...

    September 25, 2016
  • Generating solar electricity at night

    Mirrors use energy from the sun when it's not shining.

    One of the biggest issues facing renewable energy has been generating power during periods of unfavourable weather or...

    September 20, 2016
  • Calling all bird-watching citizen scientists in Australia

    Found a feather at an Australian wetland? Don't throw it away!Auscape / UIG / Getty Images{%recommended 3797%}Birdwat...

    September 19, 2016
  • World War II shipwreck reefs probed by manned submersibles

    An expedition documented the sea life that has made these vessels, which haven't been seen since ...

    In July 1942, German submarine U-576 sank the freighter SS Bluefields during the battle of Convoy KS-520 off the coas...

    September 14, 2016
  • How do Wi-Fi and hotspots work?

    You have high-frequency radio waves to thank for your wireless internet access. Jake Port explain...

    Watching cat videos has never been so easy and convenient ... but how does the information travel from router to smar...

    September 13, 2016
  • Hot stuff: the physics of microwave ovens

    Do you salivate like one of Pavlov's dogs when you hear the 'ding!' of this common household item...

    A thermal image of a bowl of food in a microwave. How does it warm up without a flame or heating element?Science Phot...

    September 7, 2016
  • Hydrogel injections help repair hearts

    More than five million people in the US are living with heart failure. Could a simple injection o...

    The disastrous aftermath of a heart attack can be allayed by a simple gel injection, research shows.Animal studies by...

    September 4, 2016
  • How do 3-D printers work?

    Additive manufacturing has extended past manufacturing and into prototyping, fashion and even med...

    3-D printers: they can convert digital models into real-life objects and make it possible to build objects beyond mos...

    August 30, 2016
  • Sign up for a taste of the Martian life – online

    Monash UniversityHaving just completed its year-long experiment, the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation h...

    August 30, 2016
  • Edible plastic food wrappers

    An environmentally tasty solution to the issue of waste.

    A new, clear, edible food covering, made of casein from cow’s milk mixed with citrus pectin from fruit, blocks oxygen...

    August 28, 2016
  • How do spacecraft get a speed boost from gravity assists?

    Most space probes launched today don’t have enough fuel to reach their destination directly, so h...

    No rocket ever made could have provided the acceleration, or deltaV budget, to propel Rosetta to the speed it needed ...

    August 23, 2016
  • Say what? How hearing loops amplify one voice above the rest

    A tiny coil in a hearing aid translates electromagnetic waves, allowing the wearer to listen to o...

    Hearing aids can amplify sounds well enough, but to discern one source above all others is easier with a hearing loop...

    August 17, 2016
  • Film festival showcases the best of scientific filmmaking

    Running during National Science Week, the SCINEMA International Film Festival gives you the opportunity to view this ...

    August 16, 2016
  • How do bladeless fans work?

    It's really just simple physics .

    In 2009, British tech manufacturer Dyson released a product called the Air Multiplier – a fan that was quieter, more ...

    August 10, 2016
  • The Nature Conservancy photography competition soon opening for 2016

    How are your photography skills? Time to put them to use: conservation group The Nature Conservancy Australia is soon...

    August 9, 2016
  • Shape-shifting liquid metals for electronics that build themselves

    Watch as blobs of gallium alloy create switches and pumps, driven by their surrounding chemistry....

    Static circuit boards may one day give way to dynamic, changeable ones that can pop up on demand.PASIEKA / Getty Imag...

    August 4, 2016
  • What causes an aurora over the poles?

    Nature's most spectacular light show.

    The aurora is one of nature’s most spectacular light shows. It’s easy to be captivated by the beauty of the phenomeno...

    August 3, 2016
  • Oxygen generators and CO2 scrubbers explained

    Just how do they work?

    Providing breathable air is a challenge in space and under the sea, as is disposing of the carbon dioxide submariners...

    July 26, 2016
  • Where do deep space probes get their power?

    Nuclear power plants for the stars, radioisotope power systems give life to probes, landers and r...

    NASAs New Horizons spacecraft was powered all the way to Pluto and beyond by a spare radioisotope thermoelectric gene...

    July 19, 2016
  • Wings and propellers of all sorts and how they work

    Wings are used not just on planes, but in a wide variety of roles to lift, move and keep things g...

    The distinctive swept back wing shape of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.MARK WILLIAMSONAircraft use wings to direct air in...

    July 13, 2016
  • How does a laser printer work?

    Jake Port explains what's going on as the office printer whirrs into life.

    dem10 / Getty ImagesYou can find a laser printer in almost every office. From the outside, it whirs away, churning ou...

    June 28, 2016
  • How a refrigerator keeps its cool

    Jake Port explains the physics at work behind this kitchen workhorse.

    Dorling Kindersley / Getty ImagesThe refrigerator has revolutionised the way we store food, keeping perishables fresh...

    June 22, 2016
  • How do fingerprint scanners work?

    They identify you from the unique pattern of ridges and grooves on your fingertips, but there are...

    Fingerprint scanners are used everywhere, from airport and prisons to mobile phones.UNITED STATES MARSHALS SERVICEIn ...

    June 1, 2016
  • Did climate fluctuation save Europe from the Mongol hordes?

    Scientists may have solved the mystery as to why the Mongolian army abandoned its invasion of mod...

    The Mongolian army, depicted here in a scene from the movie Genghis Khan, was a formidable fighting force. But did th...

    May 27, 2016
  • Man-made molecule designed to destroy viruses

    Researchers in Singapore have developed a multifunctional polymer that helps block viruses from i...

    A computer model of the human poliovirus, where the capsid – a protein coat – encloses the virus's genetic informatio...

    May 24, 2016
  • How do fibre optic cables work?

    Working at near the speed of light and sending billions of bits of data across the world, the fib...

    Manuela Schewe-Behnisch / EyeEm / Getty ImagesWhen you flip a light switch, light is projected from a bulb and transm...

    May 18, 2016
  • How do radar and stealth work?

    Developed to track planes in wartime, radar forms the basis of modern-day auto-braking, missile d...

    Though development and manufacture began in 1978, the F-117 was not unveiled to the public until 1990. The unusual de...

    May 11, 2016
  • How do heat shields on spacecraft work?

    Examining the extremes of re-entry and experimental lightweight options.

    Travelling at more than seven kilometres a second and generating temperatures of over 1,600 °C, a spacecraft hurtles ...

    May 4, 2016
  • How does a Geiger counter work?

    Measuring radiation is a simple matter of counting.

    Click, click, click. The sound of a Geiger counter is often associated with nuclear weapons and fallout. While it is ...

    April 27, 2016
  • Polymer could provide self-healing muscle for robots

    Stanford researchers developed an extremely stretchable material which is much more durable than ...

    The highly stretchable new material could revolutionise robot 'muscles'. – Zhenan Bao A new polymer could p...

    April 24, 2016
  • Appetite for seeds helped birds outlive dinosaurs

    Some bird-like dinosaurs managed to survive the dino-killing asteroid. A study suggests having a ...

    Artist's impression of a number of bird-like dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous. Middle ground and background: tw...

    April 22, 2016
  • Cassini captures dust from beyond the Solar System

    Grains are of unexpectedly uniform composition, suggesting interstellar material was repeatedly r...

    Cassini has sampled millions of grains of dust around Saturn but scientists believe these particles came from beyond ...

    April 15, 2016
  • Video: coral bleaching explained

    You’ve probably heard that parts of the Great Barrier Reef are turning white. So what's going...

    Find out what coral bleaching is, why it happens, and what it means for 400-year-old Frank in this animated video by ...

    April 15, 2016
  • How does a defibrillator work?

    Inside a life saving piece of technology.

    No TV medical drama show is complete without a doctor at some point shouting, “Clear!” as they apply a defibrillator ...

    April 13, 2016
  • Watch: Expedition 47’s departure for the space station

    Two cosmonauts and an astronaut – the next batch of temporary residents of the International Spac...

    Expedition 47 crew members: NASA astronaut Jeff Williams, and cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexei Ovchinin of Rosco...

    March 18, 2016
  • Warning system for rogue waves

    Sailors must contend with out-of-the-blue monster waves. Now, a new algorithm could give them a c...

    Stormy seas are one thing; but a monster wave out of the blue can demolish a ship without warning. – John Lund / Gett...

    March 16, 2016
  • How do Tasers work?

    They deliver a short, sharp zap using a combination of pressurised gas, electricity and simple sc...

    The Taser International X26 taser gun with cartridge and spent probes. The probes have thin insulated wires attached ...

    February 9, 2016

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