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How Will California’s Solar Grid React to the Eclipse?

Like many thrifty business owners, officials at the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, South Carolina, were banking on reducing their carbon footprint and saving money when they installed rooftop solar panels during a big expansion in 2015. In fact, since the panels went up, the zoo has saved more than $ ...

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NASA’s Rocket to Nowhere Finally Has a Destination

On a Thursday afternoon in June, a 17-foot-tall rocket motor—looking like something a dedicated amateur might fire off—stood fire-side-up on the salty desert of Promontory, Utah. Over the loudspeakers, an announcer counted down. And with the command to fire, quad cones of flame flew from the four inverted nozzles and ...

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The Best Way to Test Students? Make Them Explain It On Video

As a physics professor, I have two jobs. The first, obviously, is to help students understand physics. That makes me something of a coach. But I want to talk about my second job: evaluating what students understand about physics. You might call this grading them. Evaluating a student’s understanding of ...

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Cassini says goodbye to a true Titan

Mere weeks away from its dramatic, mission-ending plunge into Saturn, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has a hectic schedule, orbiting the planet every week in its Grand Finale. On a few orbits, Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, has been near enough to tweak Cassini’s orbit, causing the spacecraft to approach Saturn a bit ...

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How to View the Solar Eclipse Without Glasses

You’ve surely heard by now that the moon will pass between Earth and the sun on August 21, creating a total solar eclipse that will cast a shadow over much of the US. Jimmy Carter was president the last time this happened, so you definitely don’t want to miss it. ...

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