Controlling Bubbles in Boiling Water Could Make Power Plants More Efficient 

The act of boiling water helps us brew coffee and cook pasta—and it’s also what fuels most of the world’s energy sources. But boiling is really all about the bubbles, and until now their formation had been seen as random and haphazard. MIT engineers say they can now control the formation of bubbles, which might change the way power is generated.

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Watch a Sonic Tractor Beam Levitate a Helpless Ball

The tractor beam, a beloved staple of science fiction, has been inching closer and closer to reality. We’ve got physicists building optical beams that can pull micro-scale balls through water. NASA and Arx Pax (of “hoverboard” fame) are building a magnetic tractor beam that can control satellites. The latest incarnation of this Star Trek-inspired technology? A sonic hologram.

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A Simple Design Change Could Make a Thruster To Get Us to Mars 

A Hall thruster is powering many of the satellites moving around Earth right now. It needs 100 million (yes, you read that right, 100 million) times less fuel than chemical thrusters. But it was never remotely sturdy enough to get anything to Mars—until now.

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It’s Body Length, Not Mass, That Lets the Cheetah Run So Fast

Cheetahs sprint at a blistering top speed of about 59 MPH, while the domestic cat runs at about 30 MPH, close to a blue whale’s 31 MPH, and a three-toed sloth runs less than one MPH. A new paper by a pair of French physicists concludes that it’s the body length, not the mass, of the animal that determines its top speed — at least for animals that can’t fly.

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Antioxidants Might Actually Make Cancer Worse

Antioxidants have made a fortune for the dietary supplement industry, but how many people really know what they are and why they’re supposedly good for you? One common claim is that the these molecules can protect you from cancer. This is supposedly because they can counteract other molecules known as “reactive oxygen species” or “free radicals” that can be created in our cells and then damage DNA, potentially leading to cancer.

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Behold the Mysterious Beauty of a Black Hole Collision

Toss a pebble in a pond and watch the tiny ripples radiate outwards. The waves you’ve created bear striking resemblance to another phenomenon, one taking place trillions of miles away at the center of a distant galaxy. The difference is, when two black holes collide, their impact surges across the fabric of spacetime itself.

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Here’s How Black Holes Turn on the Lights In the Universe Around Them

Despite their popular reputation as dark inescapable pits, black holes really put out a lot of energy. They thrust out jets of matter. They get matter to heat up through friction as it swirls around them. And, in some cases, they contribute to bursts of incredibly high energy photons, thanks to a phenomenon first encountered in the 1920s here on Earth.

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