Articles from Discover Physics & Math

What if We Discovered an Alien Civilization Less Advanced Than Our Own?

Readers of this blog know that I'm a big fan of Quora, because it lets non-experts raise the kinds of speculative questions that don't normally come up in formal scientific discussions. One frequent theme that comes up is the issue of what we would do if we found intelligent life on a planet around another star. A recent posting in particular caught my eye: "What would we do if we found an Earthlike planet with intelligent life that is 500 years behind us in technology and advancements?"

That Word You Heard: Syzygy

When it all lines up just right.

Our Rocks, Ourselves

Astronomers are cracking the secrets of our solar system within the oldest rocks — on Earth and beyond.

This stunning image of Jupiter from NASA's Juno spacecraft is simply out of this world — except it's not

The filagree of atmospheric patterns at Jupiter's south pole bears an eerie resemblance to a phenomenon here on Earth

When I spotted this image of Jupiter on NASA's website, I felt a bit disoriented.

At first glance, it looked like a fanciful artist's conception of the giant planet. But it's actually a real image of Jupiter's south polar region, acquired by the Juno spacecraft. (Make sure to click on it, and then click again to enlarge it.)

The image has been enhanced to help bring ou

Exploding Sea Cucumber Butt Threads Are a New Material

Whoever named the sea cucumber after a vegetable didn't give it enough credit. Yes, sea cucumbers are soft, warty tubes that scoot eyelessly along the seafloor. But they aren't helpless. Some secrete a poison that's deadly to other animals. And some, when threatened, shoot sticky threads out of their anuses to tangle up predators. When researchers collected these bizarre weapons and tested them in the lab, they discovered a material that's unique among sea creatures.

The threads that sea

The Heroes of Science

Here's to the household names and forgotten figures who accomplished incredible feats of knowledge — no capes required.

The Unsung Heroes of Science

Some scientists never got the praise they deserved. Here's to the ones history passed over.

The Names Behind the Units of Measure

You know the units, but do you recognize the scientists responsible for them?

The War Over Reality

Quantum physics may be well understood, but scientists still don’t agree on what it means.

The Dynasties of Science

The auto industry had the Fords, oil had the Rockefellers, and politics had the Kennedys. Science, too, has its legacy lineages.