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Scientists Claim They’ll Create Matter From Light Within A Year

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LaserIt’s theoretically possible to make solid matter out of pure light. I say theoretical because, though the idea was first posited more than 80 years ago, the feat has never actually been performed in a laboratory setting. That may change soon, however, as researchers now say that they plan to demonstrate a practical application of this theory within a year. Yes, that means that means exactly what you think it means.

Though the theory is sound, scientists have, up to now, been unable to produce viable results in a controlled environment. Physicists at London’s Imperial College recently published a paper making the claim that they have figured out how to make matter out of seemingly nothing, and it involves lasers, which makes it that much more futuristic and science fiction sounding.

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Minimalist Posters Honor Scientists And Their Great Discoveries

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NewtonWe’ve seen a lot of “minimalist poster” art over the years, images designed to evoke the essence of a thing with as simple an image as possible. Usually they’re referencing popular movies or TV shows, but a graphic designer who goes by “Hydrogene” has taken the minimalist concept and applied it to some folks far more deserving of remembrance than, say, the makers of the Transformers films: scientists and mathematicians whose work has helped steer us into our modern age.

Working within the minimalist framework, Hydrogene has created many different subsets, ranging from scientists as well known as Isaac Newton (up top) to more obscure folks such as Leonhard Euler (I admit, I had to Google him).

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Fox News Affiliate In Oklahoma City Censors Cosmos Reference To Evolution

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CosmosIf you didn’t watch last week’s premiere of Cosmos, you’re missing out. I was nervous about whether the show could pull off its ambitious agenda, especially following in the footsteps of Carl Sagan. So far, the reboot is everything I wished for, despite lower-than-projected ratings, which may have more to do with its time slot and/or its airing on Fox. Or it may have to do with the lack of interest in science that host Neil deGrasse Tyson has made a career of fighting. Then again, maybe the anti-creationist and anti-religious insinuations of the show pissed people off. Some groups were put off by Tyson’s mention of evolution, even though it was brief. In fact, viewers who tuned into to Oklahoma City’s KOKH-TV didn’t see the 15 or so seconds addressing evolution at all, as it was cut completely and replaced by a promo for the nightly news.

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Science Crowdfunding Site Gets New Name And New Life

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experiment homepage

It’s no secret that funding for science projects and research is paltry these days, and what little funding exists is subject to the fickle vacillations and stubbornness of the federal government. So the mission-driven for-profit organization Experiment (formerly Microryza) has launched a platform for scientists and researchers around the globe to solicit funding, much in the style of Kickstarter.

Experiment notes that “our system for funding science is broken,” and that fewer than 15% of all proposals get backed, so they’re looking to democratize the process by launching a platform that supports “scientists for the people, by the people.” The process is pretty simple: researchers post projects in need of funding, and then spread the word, garnering financial support from anyone with a credit card and a yen to promote scientific discoveries. The project either reaches its goal or does—as with Kickstarter, the project must receive at least 100% of the funding goal (if it doesn’t, prospective backers aren’t charged). In return for successfully funding a project, backers get insights into the science and research, and updates about where exactly their money went. Unlike with Kickstarter, there are no tangible rewards for backers—the idea is that they’re financially supporting projects they want to see funded, and the scientists’ ability to perform the research is reward enough.

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The Most Amazing Science Stories Of 2013

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genome_editing

Writing a round-up of best science stories of the year is a tall order—it’s kind of like writing a piece about the best and brightest stars in the sky. There are countless stories to choose from, and so many that are inarguably awesome. That in itself says something—if my biggest dilemma as a science writer is sifting through the innovations to find the biggest nuggets of gold, then that’s a pretty great problem.

I’m going to cheat a little. I’m allowed, right? I’ve narrowed it down to categories, with a few stories in each.

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Arthur C. Clarke: A Birthday Retrospective

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Arthur ClarkeScience fiction great Arthur C. Clarke would have been 96 yesterday. Clarke lives on through his work and the revolutionary ideas he developed and championed with respect to science, particularly space. I wanted to take a minute to show Clarke some love. There’s never been anyone like him, and there never will be again — unless, that is, his spacebound DNA produces some interesting results.

Clarke was born in Britain in 1917, but no amount of pub food or soccer could keep him there. The man had wanderlust that makes mine seem like more of an itch. Space called to Clarke, much as it did to Ray Bradbury, and he joined the British Interplanetary Society when he was only 17. Later he became chair of the group — twice. At a young age he distinguished himself from other scientists with his writing, and he distinguished himself from other writers with his knowledge of science. The two blended together in his work. Many of the concepts Clarke wrote about, such as the space elevator he described in his 1979 novel The Fountains of Paradise, and his thoughts about replicators, have provided food for thought, if not specific goals, for space engineers. In 1945, Clarke wrote a paper advocating putting satellites in geostationary orbit. That’s right — you have Clarke to thank for your GPS systems and satellite TV. Eighteen years later, after America’s launch of the Syncom 2 satellite, Clarke won the Stuart Ballantine Medal, a science and engineering award, for the idea. Now most satellites hang out in an area called, appropriately, the Clarke Belt. In a nutshell, dude knew what was up, literally.

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