Physics is the science of matter, energy, space and time. It looks both inward and outward, from the smallest subatomic particle to the vastness of the universe—and yet it is also intensely practical. Physics begins with the everyday physical world around us—the blue of the sky, the colors of the rainbow, the fall of an apple, the motions of the moon. What's happening here? Why do things work this way?

Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation

The Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation at the Rochester Institute of Technology is dedicated to research the frontiers of numerical relativity and astrophysics and gravitational wave physics. The Center is funded in part by the National Science Foundation and integrates state-of-the-art science, performance computing and scientific visualization.

Ultrafast lasers and Archimedes

When it comes to ultrafast lasers, Margaret Murnane's name is one of the best known for her work in this field of science. The NSF's Ivy Kupec sat down with this well-published scientist who originates from County Limerick, Ireland to talk further about these uber speedy lasers, science and even Archimedes.

A glass conducter

A light bulb has the glass carefully removed, leaving the glass base and filament intact. The bulb is connected to AC electricity, and the filament quickly and dramatically burns out. This leaves the two wires that originally supported the filament separated by the glass in the base. Take a propane torch and heat the glass base (the bulb remnants are still connected to the electricity), a point is reached where the heated glass is no longer isolating the two wires from each other, but has become a conductor of electricity. As the electricity flows, the heat generated lights up the glass, the propane torch can be removed, and the glass continues to glow very brightly.

Flashy grape

A grape makes a great dipole antenna, and makes a great (small and safe) series of sparks in the microwave.

Reflecting in the bath

An internally frosted, large light bulb is dipped into a fish tank of water, and the total internal reflection effect produces 'other-worldly' consequences to how the bulb looks in the water. The bulb goes from white to a silvery orb. Turning the bulb on, produces a similar, but more alluring effect.

Graphite glow

Passing a small electric current through a mechanical pencil lead causes it to glow brightly for several seconds.

Plasma cutter

A pencil lead and some batteries make a small plasma cutter that we use to etch a pattern in aluminum foil.