Watch scientists melt a satellite part to save us from space junk

Not every part of a satellite burns up in reentry. Considering the growing number of satellites in orbital space, that's a big problem.

  • Earth's orbital space is getting more crowded by the day.
  • The more satellites and space junk we put into orbit, the greater a risk that there could be a collision.
  • Not all materials burn up during reentry; that's why scientists need to stress test satellite parts to ensure that they won't become deadly falling objects.
Keep reading Show less
Technology & Innovation

This is why microwaved grapes produce flashes of plasma

A parlor-trick mystery explained at last.

  • Two grape halves heated in a microwave produce light-emitting ionized gas, or plasma.
  • The grapes collect and trap microwaves whose energy eventually bursts outward.
  • The discovery could lead to passive microwave antennas.
Keep reading Show less
Surprising Science

Japan finds a huge cache of scarce rare-earth minerals

Japan looks to replace China as the primary source of critical metals

Rare-earth magnets (nikkytok/Shutterstock)
  • Enough rare earth minerals have been found off Japan to last centuries
  • Rare earths are important materials for green technology, as well as medicine and manufacturing
  • Where would we be without all of our rare-earth magnets?
Keep reading Show less
Technology & Innovation

The mystery material that can survive 75 nuclear blasts

Recipe for awe: Coat one egg with Starlite. Blast it with a ridiculous amount of heat until charred black. Crack it open.

(Miodownik/BBC Reel)
  • A professional hairdresser and amateur chemist invented an unbelievably heat-resistant coating called Starlite.
  • Military applications brought governments running, but the inventor's odd negotiating style ruined discussions.
  • Was Starlite lost when he died, or had it already been stolen?
Keep reading Show less
Technology & Innovation

5 of the worst inventions in modern history

Be glad your name isn't attached to any of these bad ideas.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • Some inventions can be celebrated during their time, but are proven to be devastating in the long run.
  • The inventions doesn't have to be physical. Complex mathematical creations that create money for Wall Street can do as much damage, in theory, as a gas that destroys the ozone layer.
  • Inventors can even see their creations be used for purposes far different than they had intended.
Keep reading Show less
Technology & Innovation