Scientists have cooled potassium gas to one billionth of a degree below absolute zero. But in the quantum world, that's actually hotter than the Sun. It's hotter, even, than infinity degrees Kelvin. Vladan Vuletić, a quantum physicist at MIT, talks about this 'Bizarro World' temperature.
Cold-water fish, snow-dwelling bugs and some grasses have evolved natural antifreeze proteins to avoid turning to ice cubes. Peter Davies, a biologist at Queen's University in Ontario, discusses how these antifreeze substances work, and their applications for human problems--like keeping the ice out of ice cream.
In Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity, Lester Brown says the world's food supply is tightening, and the reasons are many. People in developing countries are eating more meat, a grain-intensive food; farmers are overpumping, causing water tables to fall; and crop yields have plateaued, despite technological advances.
In 2012 the Higgs boson was spotted at CERN, private company SpaceX began supply flights to the International Space Station, and the world bade farewell to the Galapagos tortoise Lonesome George. A panel of journalists discusses the year's top stories in science.
The comet ISON, discovered by two amateur astronomers last year, will zoom past the Earth next fall. But where did it come from? Astronomer Andrew Fraknoi says a passing star could have flung the comet our way from the Oort Cloud, a distant realm of ice chunks at the outer limits of the solar system.
Ruben Fragoso checks out appliances at Best Buy in Miami in April 2010, when Florida residents were taking advantage of a federally funded discount for Energy Star-rated appliances. Legislation just passed by Congress as part of the fiscal-cliff deal includes tax breaks for energy-efficient appliances.
Whether you're a homeowner who bought an energy-saving refrigerator last year or a company hoping to build a wind farm, the tax package Congress just approved may give you a reason to cheer.
"It's got something in there, a Christmas gift if you will, for almost everyone — American homeowners, workers who commute via transit, and manufacturers of efficient equipment like clothes washers, dryers, refrigerators," says Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy.
Every year at around this time, tens of thousands of people take part in a kind of bird-watching marathon. From Canada to Latin America and throughout the United States, participants will get up in the middle of the night. Some brave frigid winter temperatures, and many do whatever else it takes to count as many birds as they can in 24 hours.