June 2021

Thank you for your support of our 2021 Virtual TechCon! Details on the presentation videos and proceedings will be forthcoming.

In the meantime, select a button to view the final Product Showcase Map and Exhibitor Grid, enter the jigsaw puzzle contest, or preview the 2022 flyer and start your plans to join us in Long Beach.
Room Temperature Superconductor: Holy Grail or Red Herring?

By Yuen Yiu, Inside Science

Scientists have crushed the quest for room temperature superconductors, but only at ridiculously high pressures. In 2020, scientists achieved the once unthinkable -- the discovery of a material that can maintain its superconductivity at room temperature. Electrons in these materials whiz through with zero resistance -- a seemingly wonderous property with the potential to transform a host of technologies. But there was a catch.  READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Abigail Malate, Staff Illustrator
Should Golfers Keep the Flagstick in the Cup When They Putt?

By Peter Gwynne, Inside Science

A recent rule change has given golfers a conundrum and a new analysis reveals how complicated the decision is. As if golf weren’t already difficult enough, the game’s international authorities added a level of complexity two years ago. They overturned a rule that penalized golfers for hitting the flagstick when they putted their ball on the green. That raised an obvious question: Should golfers keep the flagstick in the hole or take it out when they putt?  READ FULL ARTICLE.

Superconductor Now a Reality at Room Temperature -- But Not Room Pressure

By Charles Q. Choi, Inside Science

The hydrogen compound requires extremely high pressure to maintain its extraordinary properties. Scientists have revealed the first room-temperature superconductor -- an extraordinary compound that conducts electricity perfectly, without the subzero temperatures such materials have long demanded. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Adam Fenster
What's the Best Wood for Cricket or Baseball Bats?

By Brian Owens, Inside Science

It may be time for at least one of the sports to leave trees behind and move to a material that's technically a grass.  The crack of a bat as it strikes a ball is the sound of summer in both the United States and the United Kingdom, albeit from a different sport in each -- baseball in one, and cricket in the other. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Abigail Malate, Staff Illustrator
Media rights: Copyright American Institute of Physics
Why Is Ice Slippery? It's Not a Simple Question

By Yuen Yiu, Inside Science

The properties of friction change from one situation to the next, so a universal explanation doesn't exist. Why is ice slippery? You might have heard that scientists don't know the answer. If that surprises you, it could be because simple language can camouflage complex problems.   READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Abigail Malate, Staff Illustrator
Media rights: Copyright American Institute of Physics
Suspending a Single Molecule Inside a Drop of Helium

By Yuen Yiu, Inside Science

The experimental technique could help reveal the fundamental chemistry in photosynthesis and photovoltaic materials. By suspending a single molecule consisting of just two metal atoms in a tiny droplet of liquid helium, physicists have demonstrated a new way to study the ultrafast vibrational dynamics of molecules. The technique may help researchers develop high-performing organic photovoltaic materials for future solar cells. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Markus Koch
Media rights: This image may be reproduced with this Inside Science article.
When Spring Arrives, It Becomes Harder to Predict El Nino and La Nina

By Carolina Cuellar, Inside Science

The accuracy of the next season's weather forecast dives every spring, because of the volatility of Pacific Ocean conditions. Each year, when winter ends, meteorologists notice that some of their highly dependable climate models stumble. Supercomputers tasked with predicting the conditions associated with El Nino over the next several months generate less accurate forecasts. That means that their predictions of important weather events, such as a tropical cyclone in Hawaii, become less reliable.  READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Kasko Hlavko via Flickr
Media rights: CC BY 2.0
Atomic Testing Site Hosts Oldest Known Quasicrystals

By Charles Q. Choi, Inside Science

The shock of the blast created the right conditions for the elusive structures. Quasicrystals are mysterious structures whose existence was long thought to be impossible. They possess atoms arranged in orderly patterns that, unlike the atoms of regular crystals, never repeat themselves. Now scientists have found that the oldest known artificial quasicrystal may have unexpected origins -- the first atomic bomb test. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Source image by Luca Bindi and Paul J. Steinhardt; composite by Abigail Malate.
Laser Paintbrush Creates Works of Art on Titanium

By Meeri Kim, Inside Science

New tool for artists can paint, erase and change the color of strokes on a metal canvas. Around 73,000 years ago, an unknown artist used a mineral pigment crayon to make a mishmash of red lines on a stone flake, creating the oldest known drawing made by Homo sapiens. Evidence of abstract markings from earlier human species, such as a zigzag pattern on a clamshell by Homo erectus, traces the potential origins of art still further back in time.  READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Yaroslava Andreeva
Computer Deciphers the Brain Signals of Imagined Writing

By Charles Q. Choi, Inside Science

New approach to brain-computer interfaces more than doubles the speed at which messages can be relayed. A man paralyzed below the neck can imagine writing by hand and, with the help of artificial intelligence software, use electronics hooked up to his brain to translate his mental handwriting into words at speeds comparable to typing on a smartphone, a new study finds. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Meteoroids, Meteors, Meteor Showers and Meteorites

Sorting out space rocks and setting the record straight. Meteoroids … meteors … meteor showers … meteorites. With so many similar names, it's easy to get them confused. They're all related to the flashes of light called "shooting stars" sometimes seen streaking across the sky. But the same object we see has different names, depending on where it is. We sort out all the space rocks and help you make sense of it all.  WATCH VIDEO.
Tiny Crystals Point to Date Plate Tectonics Began

By James Gaines, Inside Science

Scientists link the start of movements in the Earth's crust to increasing amounts of aluminum in crystals about 3.6 billion years ago.  Scientists examining billions-of-years-old crystals from Australia say they've uncovered new evidence that helps pin the start of plate tectonics at roughly 3.6 billion years ago. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Dustin Trail, University of Rochester
Media rights: Media use of these photos in relation to this study is permitted with attribution.
This Groovy Pasta Folds Itself in the Pot

By Charles Q. Choi, Inside Science

Researchers designed pasta that is stored flat and morphs into shape while cooking.   Pasta is beloved for its diversity of shapes, from tubes of penne to spirals of fusilli. However, these bulky 3D structures often require large packages to store. Now scientists have developed flat pasta that can morph into familiar shapes when cooked, which could make them easier to ship not just on Earth, but in space. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Sharks Have a Magnetic Sense of Where They Are

By Rebecca Boyle, Inside Science

Researchers confirm that sharks use a magnetic field to change their route. The world's oceans contain few natural corridors to shepherd marine animals on their migratory journeys. Birds and mammals can use sunlight, moonlight and landmarks to orient themselves, but visibility is minimal below the ocean surface, so marine animals must use cues like sound waves or a powerful sense of smell. A new study shows for the first time that some sharks traverse the oceans with the aid of Earth itself, by sensing its magnetic field. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Vladimir Wrangel via Shutterstock
Researchers Are Uncovering a Plastic Cycle in the Atmosphere

By Katharine Gammon, Inside Science

There’s now a microscopic plastic cycle that works like any other environmental cycle -- moving from oceans to sky to land and back again. Janice Brahney never set out to look for plastics in the atmosphere. Brahney studies the atmosphere as a vector to move elements through the environment -- for example, how phosphorus moves through the atmosphere and ends up in water bodies. But when she was setting up a network of dust sampling, she was surprised to find plastic in her dust samples. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: DedMityay via Shutterstock
Fantastic Yeasts and Where Bakers Find Them

By Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, Inside Science

Global study reveals microbial diversity of sourdough starters. Sourdough bread has nurtured humans for thousands of years -- perhaps even more so during the bread-making hype of the COVID-19 pandemic -- and bakers have perfected the craft of making it over generations. Now, scientists are beginning to understand the identities and activities of the microbes in sourdough that are key to making a delicious loaf.  READ FULL ARTICLE.

Inspired by Insects, Tiny 'Robots' Walk on Water

By Tom Metcalfe, Inside Science

Researchers make tiny disks that can propel themselves without external power.  Inspired by the insects known as water striders, scientists have made disks of hydrogel that can move themselves around the surface of a body of water by using tiny differences in its surface tension. The disks, made from a gel that contains both water-attracting and water-repelling chemicals, propelled themselves by exploiting what's known as the Marangoni effect. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Jan Miko/Shutterstock
Yuri Gagarin's Space Shot Heard Round the World

By Peter Gwynne, Inside Science

Six decades ago, the Soviets launched a cosmonaut into orbit, shaking up the Cold War in ways that still reverberate. On April 12, Russians will celebrate the 60th anniversary of an event that changed the world: the first human flight into space by cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. The former foundry worker's complete orbit of the Earth created both awe and concern: awe in much of the world at an achievement that seemed to exemplify the self-proclaimed superiority of the Soviet Union's technology, and concern in the United States and other Western nations that were struggling for global influence in the Cold War with the USSR that had begun as World War II ended in 1945. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media rights: Copyright American Institute of Physics
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