Michael Lucy

Michael Lucy is features editor of Cosmos.

Michael Lucy is features editor of Cosmos.

  • Forecasting perfect storms

    Science is giving us advance warning of dangerous weather combinations known as ‘compound events’...

    The Russian spring of 2010 was unseasonably dry. Then the summer arrived with a blistering heatwave. Hundreds of fire...

    November 8, 2018
  • Physicists barge in on economists. Predictions ensue

    A radical simplification of economic forecasting models produces interesting, if controversial, r...

    Deep down every physicist believes that, if they only had a spare six months, they could put the messy human science ...

    July 30, 2018
  • Gallery: Arthropods see things differently

    Beauty and functionality are in the eyes of the beholders.

    The Common Horse Fly (Haematopota pluvialis) Horse flies mainly eat nectar from flowers, but females require a hearty...

    July 25, 2018
  • How clouds complicate global warming

    Predicting whether clouds will help to cool or cook the planet.

    Clouds are wispy evanescent things, beloved of poets and daydreamers. They may also determine whether civilisation as...

    July 1, 2018
  • Equations show how order falls into chaos

    Transitions from predictable movement to random diffusion happen everywhere from grazing sheep to...

    The transition from orderly progress to chaotic wandering, as happens when a herd of sheep walk together into a pastu...

    June 13, 2018
  • Across the world, cyclones are creeping more slowly

    Hurricane winds are speeding up, but the storms themselves are getting sluggish. Michael Lucy rep...

    Sluggish superstorms like Hurricane Harvey – which loitered over eastern Texas for four days in 2017, dumping up to a...

    June 6, 2018
  • Data you can hold in your hand – or put on the mantelpiece

    A new 3D printing system lets researchers understand their information in truly physical ways. Mi...

    The way we look at data could be changed forever by a new 3D printing technique that allows the creation of detailed,...

    May 30, 2018
  • If it’s not one thing, it’s another: the challenge of compound weather events

    Researchers are trying to improve ways of predicting the devastating effects of complex natural d...

    The deadly Russian wildfires of 2010, the Brisbane floods of 2011 and the inundation of New York by Hurricane Sandy i...

    May 15, 2018
  • The wind is slowing down

    Near-surface wind speeds over landmasses across the planet have dropped by as much as 25% since t...

    The wind isn’t what it used to be. Scientists say surface wind speeds across the planet have fallen by as much as 25%...

    May 10, 2018
  • Quantum communication starts to repeat itself

    Research suggests a way to increase the range of encrypted data transmission. Michael Lucy reports.

    A new technique that extends the range of quantum-secured communication has been unveiled by a team of British resear...

    May 2, 2018
  • Shine on you bendy diamond

    On a nano-scale, diamonds turn out to be remarkably flexible. Michael Lucy reports.

    Diamond is one of the hardest substances in the world but tiny diamond needles a few hundred nanometres long are quit...

    April 23, 2018
  • The quantum internet is already being built

    A quantum internet could revolutionise communication.

    For a few minutes each night in certain parts of China, the brightest light in the sky is the lurid glow of the Miciu...

    April 12, 2018
  • The measure of a metre

    On 7 April 1795, the metre was born but the search for a precise, universal standard of measureme...

    What makes a metre? Today we take for granted this standard unit of length, recognised in countries around the world ...

    April 6, 2018
  • Round-up: sunspots and solar flares

    Scientists are edging ever closer to an understanding of the Sun’s unpredictable outbursts.

    Sunspots have puzzled astronomers for centuries, and the more recent discovery of solar flares and coronal mass eject...

    March 29, 2018
  • Weird flowers

    Flowering plants have been evolving strange forms.

    Flowers are plants’ reproductive organs. The basics of the design haven’t changed much since the first flowering plan...

    March 26, 2018
  • The parental urges of the burying beetle

    Male and female burying beetles are committed parents.

    Aside from social creatures such as ants and bees, burying beetles are some of the most devoted parents among insects...

    March 25, 2018
  • Round-up: Weather

    This World Meteorological Day, we dig through the archives for fascinating bits and pieces about ...

    The 23rd of March is World Meteorological Day, and in 2018 the World Meteorological Organization has declared the the...

    March 22, 2018
  • Stephen Hawking dies at 76

    The renowned theoretical physicist died peacefully at home.

    {%recommended 6871%} Physicist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76, say his family. The British theoretici...

    March 14, 2018
  • Lily Serna: the division belle

    Still a shining star in the rarified field of maths entertainment.

    Lily Serna was just five years old when, driving around the city of Jerusalem with her grandfather, she first ran hea...

    February 16, 2018
  • How climate change is driving extreme heatwaves

    As average temperatures creep up, climate scientists spy trouble at the far end of the bell curve...

    BUILT ON THE RICH BLACK SOIL of the northern NSW plains, halfway between the dry red dunes of the Strzelecki Desert a...

    January 18, 2018
  • Top 10 science stories of 2017

    From explosions in distant galaxies to new windows on human history, we look back at the science ...

    Neutron stars collide!  The biggest story of the year was undoubtedly the detection of a pair of colliding neutron s...

    December 20, 2017
  • Melting ice in one spot causes kick-on thousands of kilometres away

    New modelling finds the effects of melting Antarctic ice can affect distant glaciers. Michael Luc...

    The thinning of floating ice shelves around Antarctica can affect the flow of glaciers as far as 900 kilometres away,...

    December 18, 2017
  • The physics of coffee

    Want to be the hippest barista on the block? Michael Lucy reveals how.

    If you pour coffee into warm milk at just the right speed, the laws of physics will make the two liquids arrange them...

    December 12, 2017
  • Chinese satellite picks up possible dark matter evidence

    Bigger than predicted number of particles may be the product of the elusive material. Michael Luc...

    A China-led satellite mission has detected an anomaly in cosmic ray signals that may indicate the presence of dark ma...

    December 3, 2017
  • A quantum mirage in a pool of oil

    An experiment with droplets of silicon oil raises tantalising questions about the foundations of ...

    Over time, the chaotic motion of the droplet builds a coherent pattern of positions.Saenz et al. / Nature Physics ...

    November 30, 2017
  • Neutrino absorption spotted in Antarctic

    Physicists have confirmed theoretical predictions that high-energy neutrinos cannot pass through ...

    Using a gigantic particle detector buried deep in ice near the South Pole, an international team of researchers has m...

    November 22, 2017
  • Abidali Mohamedali: The biologist and entrepreneur who wants to give back

    For Abidali Mohamedali, turning scientific discoveries into business propositions is about drivin...

    If you ask an entrepreneur about their goals you’ll always get the same answer, according to Abidali Mohamedali. “Wor...

    November 16, 2017
  • Carbon emissions back on the rise

    A three-year pause in the growth of the world’s carbon output has come to an end. Michael Lucy re...

    The world’s rate of carbon emissions is rising again after staying steady for three years, according to a comprehensi...

    November 13, 2017
  • Squid chat

    A squid's eye view of cephalopod communication.

    When scientists from Stanford University and the National Geographic Society strapped a video camera to a Humboldt sq...

    November 6, 2017
  • A tensor situation: new system speeds up big data processing

    An automatic method for handling large datasets can make computer processing up to 100 times fast...

    Computer science researchers have developed an all-purpose system that makes it easy to crunch through common kinds o...

    November 5, 2017
  • Dark matter still missing

    The most sensitive experiments yet have once again failed to find traces of the mysterious substa...

    Scientists from two of the world’s biggest dark matter detectors have reported that their latest experiments, like al...

    November 1, 2017
  • The first photograph of Earth taken from space

    On 24 October 1946, rocket scientists captured the first images of Earth taken from space.

    This is the first photograph of Earth ever taken from space. It was captured on 24 October 1946 from a rocket 105 km ...

    October 24, 2017
  • What is the Fermi Paradox?

    Why can’t we see any sign of life elsewhere in the universe?

    The Fermi Paradox – named after the Italian-American physicist Enrico Fermi – can be summed up in a simple question t...

    October 22, 2017
  • New quantum entanglement record but still no Schrödinger’s cat

    Swiss researchers have successfully entangled 16 million atoms with a single photon, but macrosco...

    Your average cat contains more than a hundred million billion billion atoms. So that’s how many atoms would need to b...

    October 20, 2017
  • Marine sponges’ glass skeletons offer tips for future electronics

    Technology manufacturers have a thing or two to learn from the humble marine sponge, writes Micha...

    Electron microscopy image of glass spicules from the sponge Geodia cydonium.Zlotnikov Group, B CUBE, TU DresdenModern...

    October 18, 2017
  • Cosmic fireball sheds light on source of gravitational waves

    Colliding neutron stars have confirmed theories about gamma-ray bursts and the origin of gold and...

    “I can’t think of a similar situation in the field of science in my lifetime where a single event provides so many st...

    October 16, 2017
  • This honeycomb material could power a leap in quantum technology

    A compound called hexagonal boron nitride can be made in super-thin sheets and emit single photon...

    The quantum revolution that is poised to transform computing and communications is all worked out, in theory. The pra...

    October 12, 2017
  • A 30,000-year-old face

    Buried at Sunghir in central Russia, this Stone Age teen was a member of a complex society that t...

    A reconstructed portrait of the 13-year-old child from Sungir.Image from a VR animation by Visual Science About ...

    October 12, 2017
  • Loops inside the ear

    A look inside a mouse’s inner ear shows a new gene therapy at work.

    The image above shows the inner ear of a mouse, including the organ of Corti, the looped strip of cells inside the ea...

    October 11, 2017
  • Physicists solve extreme electron puzzle

    A better understanding of how electrons behave in extreme conditions will help scientists underst...

    On Earth, electrons are mainly well-behaved creatures. Under extreme conditions – the kind you find in a white dwarf ...

    October 10, 2017
  • Schrödinger’s fridge: physicists find the act of observation can make heat flow backwards

    Simply observing a quantum system may be enough to temporarily turn thermodynamics on its head. M...

    Yet another way in which common sense goes out the window in the quantum realm.Buena Vista ImagesHeat flows from hot ...

    October 9, 2017
  • Looking to improve aeroplanes, computer designs bird wing

    Using big data and supercomputing results in potentially much more efficient aircraft components,...

    A view of the wing design with the top removed to show the intricate details of the interior structure.Niels Aage ...

    October 4, 2017
  • Did dark matter cause early supermassive black holes?

    One of the biggest mysteries in cosmology may have been solved, reports Michael Lucy.

    The earliest gigantic black holes in the universe were seeded by dark matter, new research has found.Ancient supermas...

    October 1, 2017
  • Trio of gravitational wave detectors homes in on merging black holes

    Astronomers have pinned down the location of a black hole collision with unprecedented precision....

    Over the past two years, gravitational wave detectors have let us eavesdrop on the universe-shaking booms of black ho...

    September 28, 2017
  • Moonshine doughnut maths proves pariahs are real

    Number theorists have found a mysterious connection between seemingly unrelated areas of mathemat...

    Concrete visuals for objects like finite simple groups and elliptic curves are hard to find.Travis Munson / EyeEmIn n...

    September 28, 2017
  • Friday profile: Spinning towards a solution

    Australian mathematician Sophie Calabretto is out to prove her field isn’t just the domain of str...

    “No-one grows up wanting to be a mathematician,” says mathematician Sophie Calabretto, perhaps a little ruefully.Her ...

    September 21, 2017
  • Photons and phonons combine for quantum solution

    Collective vibrations in silicon crystals could provide memory for quantum computers, writes Mich...

    Vibrations in crystals can obey the laws of quantum mechanics and might be used to store information in quantum compu...

    September 21, 2017
  • Fast-moving particles bombarding Earth come from distant galaxies

    Tiny, rare and challenging to measure, atomic nuclei from outside the Milky Way are the focus of ...

    Particle physics is a numbers game. Whether at terrestrial atom-smashers like the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerlan...

    September 21, 2017
  • Watch Cassini’s Saturn dive live with mission control

    Join NASA scientists as they bid farewell to Cassini.

    Saturn backlit by the Sun, as seen by Cassini in 2013. Earth can be seen as a few bright pixels below the right hand ...

    September 15, 2017
  • For robots, the future is modular

    “Mergeable nervous systems” can create flexible, self-adapting robots. Michael Lucy reports.

    One mind, one body: most of the time it’s a pretty good rule of thumb, but new developments in robotics may make it o...

    September 12, 2017
  • Sitting down is deadly, study confirms

    While too much sedentary time makes you more likely to die, getting up to move every half an hour...

    If you value your life, you should stand up and walk around right now. Too much time on the couch – or in the desk ch...

    September 12, 2017
  • Power supply for Jupiter’s aurora puzzles scientists

    The intense polar lights of the giant gas planet don’t work the way the ones on Earth do, writes ...

    A composite image from the Hubble Space Telescope showing Jupiter in visible light and its aurora in ultraviolet.NASA...

    September 7, 2017
  • Follow the pollen

    Bees leave parts of their bodies ungroomed to do a better job of carrying pollen from one flower ...

    An Apis mellifera showing safe sites with fluorescent sunflower pollen.Petra WesterWhen a honeybee or bumblebee visit...

    September 6, 2017
  • Do solar storms lead to beached whales?

    A new study makes the case that solar activity caused a mass sperm whale stranding in 2016 by dis...

    In early 2016 a spate of sperm whale strandings in the North Sea perplexed scientists. Many theories were proposed fo...

    September 6, 2017
  • African wild dogs make democratic decisions by sneezing

    In packs of African wild dogs, decisions on whether to set out hunt are decided by a sneeze-based...

    Next time you cast a vote, consider the unlikely company you are keeping as a participant in a democratic process: th...

    September 6, 2017
  • An Antarctic volcano caused rapid climate change at the end of the last ice age

    Two centuries of massive volcanic eruptions in Antarctica blasted a hole in the ozone layer and s...

    About 17,700 years ago, as cycles in Earth’s orbit were increasing the amount of sunlight the planet received and beg...

    September 5, 2017
  • Hints of water found on TRAPPIST-1 exoplanets

    The outer planets of the TRAPPIST-1 system may contain water and habitable conditions for life, w...

    Astronomers studying the TRAPPIST-1 system of seven rocky Earth-sized planets orbiting a dwarf star have concluded th...

    September 1, 2017
  • ‘Junk DNA’ plays a vital role in embryo development

    Strings of seemingly nonsense DNA play a surprising structural role in the early development of e...

    In mammals, almost half of the genome is made of repetitive stretches of DNA known as retrotransposons whose purpose ...

    August 29, 2017
  • Crown shyness: even trees need personal space

    While most trees are happy to rub branches with their neighbours, some are a little more touchy, ...

    Crown shyness: Dryobalanops aromatica, or Malay camphor, is one kind of tree that keeps to itself.Razvan Ciuca / Gett...

    August 28, 2017
  • Hurricane Harvey heads for Texas

    The strongest storm in a dozen years approaches the coast of the US.

    Hurricane Harvey approaching the coast of Texas, seen from the International Space Station.Randy Bresnik / NASA / ISS...

    August 24, 2017
  • It snows on Mars at night

    Small, localised flurries of snow may be a regular occurrence during cold Martian nights, accordi...

    Sketch showing the processes of Martian snowfall.James Tuttle Keane / Nature GeoscienceThough the fledgling science o...

    August 21, 2017
  • Zebrafish larvae host tumours to test treatments

    A new method of transplanting tumour cells into baby fish offers hope of personalised cancer trea...

    A zebrafish larva with transplanted tumour cells in red.Rita Fior / CCUSpare a thought for the zebrafish. Scientists ...

    August 21, 2017
  • Killer robot threat must be faced, say experts

    116 founders of AI and robotics companies have called on the UN to ban lethal autonomous weapons,...

    Fears of killer robots doing the bidding of terrorists, despots and hackers have prompted leaders from the AI and rob...

    August 20, 2017
  • Astronomers track clouds on failed stars

    Fluctuations in the brightness of brown dwarfs turn out to be due to high winds and fast-moving b...

    An artist’s impression of a brown dwarf showing banded clouds.NASA / JPLThe dimly glowing balls of gas that dot the g...

    August 18, 2017
  • Primordial black holes may create gold and other heavy elements

    The origin of heavy elements like gold and uranium may lie in dramatic collisions between primord...

    The origin of many heavy elements, including gold and uranium, is a longstanding astrophysical mystery. While the rol...

    August 10, 2017
  • Could Tyrannosaurus rex run? Probably not

    Improved computer modelling suggests that the leg bones of a T. rex would have snapped under the ...

    New discoveries never seem to be good news for Tyrannosaurus rex. In the early days of palaeontology it was described...

    July 21, 2017
  • Star window provides rare view of solar system’s distant fringe

    Blinking star reveals the target of New Horizons space probe, 6.5 billion km away

    Astronomers in Argentina have just caught a rare glimpse of an object 6.5 billion kilometres away, in the very outer ...

    July 20, 2017
  • What ‘teleporting’ a photon to space means

    Using quantum entanglement and a purpose-built satellite, first successful ‘quantum teleportation...

    A team of Chinese researchers has reported the first successful ‘quantum teleportation’ to space. Using the Micius sa...

    July 12, 2017
  • A kangaroo in the mist

    At high speeds, a leaping kangaroo uses only half as much energy as an animal running on four leg...

    A male Eastern Grey Kangaroo on a misty winter morning in Heathcote, Victoria.Saldumbide Photography @hitchitwithme K...

    July 10, 2017
  • Astronomers turn eyes to New Horizons target beyond Pluto

    Astronomers are carefully watching tiny shadows to learn about MU69, the mysterious Kuiper belt o...

    The New Horizons space probe, which made headlines around the world in 2015 when it beamed back humanity’s best-ever ...

    July 10, 2017
  • 100 billion brown dwarfs may populate our galaxy

    New survey dramatically increases estimated number of failed stars throughout the Milky Way.

    The Milky Way may contain as many as 100 billion brown dwarfs, according to new research to be published in the Month...

    July 6, 2017
  • Organic molecules near Saturn’s moon Enceladus not a sign of life

    Methanol spotted in plumes from Saturn’s icy moon does not indicate the presence of life, astrono...

    If you’re looking for life elsewhere in the solar system, you could do worse than look to the icy moons of Jupiter an...

    July 5, 2017
  • Like little rings of Saturn: How electricity pulls a drop of liquid apart

    July 5, 2017
  • Saturn’s moon Enceladus may have tipped over

    Scientists have been surprised to find evidence that the icy ocean moon may have tipped over, pos...

    The features on Enceladus scientists believe show a past collision that shifted the moon’s axis.Credits: NASA/JPL-Cal...

    May 31, 2017
  • Australian telescope spies its first burst from beyond the galaxy, many more expected

    The ASKAP telescope in Western Australia will collect the mysterious high energy signals known as...

    Some of the dishes of the ASKAP telescope.Kim SteeleAstronomers using the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinde...

    May 23, 2017
  • Secrets of the comet’s tail

    A simulation traces the complex physics that makes a comet visible, writes Michael Lucy.

    Comet Catalina.NASA/JPL-CaltechComets are dull, most of the time. In the outer reaches of the solar system they are f...

    May 15, 2017
  • A universe full of galaxies

    The stunning size and variety of the Abell 370 galaxy cluster.

    There are about 100 billion stars in the Milky Way, the galaxy that houses our solar system. That’s a conservative es...

    May 12, 2017
  • Photoacoustic imaging shows a mouse brain at work

    A new technique uses light and sound to create a high-resolution window into a living animal in r...

    Schematic showing the cross-sectional scan of a mouse.Junjie Yao & Kara Manke, Duke UniversityResearchers at Duke Uni...

    May 10, 2017

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