Physical Science

Physical science is the study of the physical world around you. Learn about everything from electricity to magnetism in this section.

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What Is the Butterfly Effect and How Do We Misunderstand It?

We may think the butterfly effect means that a small change (like the flap of a butterfly's wings) can have huge consequences (a tornado in China). But what if it means the opposite?

What Is Boyle's Law and Why Do I Already Know It?

Boyle's Law describes the relationship between pressure and the volume of a container with gas in it. As the volume of the container decreases, the pressure inside the container increases.

What Are Corresponding Angles and How Do You Find Them?

Corresponding angles are what you get when two parallel lines are crossed by a third line, creating angles that have the same relative position at each intersection. They're easy to find once you know what to look for.

Dodecahedron: The 12-sided Shape With the 12-letter Name

A dodecahedron has 12 flat faces, all shaped like pentagons. Here are 12 cool things you just may not know about them.

What's the Difference Between Ethyl Alcohol and Isopropyl Alcohol?

The two different types of alcohol are commonly used in hand sanitizer today. But does one work better than the other?

Electronegativity Is Like an Atomic Tug-of-War

Electrons are attracted to some atoms more than others. If two atoms are of equal strength, the electrons will be equally shared. If one atom is stronger, the electrons will be pulled in that atom's direction.

Scientific Notation Is Math's Version of Shorthand

How do you calculate absurdly high numbers without writing them out in numerals? You use scientific notation. We'll give you examples and show you how.

What Are the 7 Diatomic Elements?

Diatomic elements are molecules composed of only two atoms, every time, always. There are only seven of them on the entire periodic table.

Denatured Alcohol: Great for Your Camp Stove, Not Your Margarita

Denatured alcohol is useful for lots of things, but drinking definitely isn't one of them.

The Ancient Element Bismuth Is the Pink in Today's Pepto-Bismol

Bismuth is a naturally occurring element with many applications in our daily lives, but even more than that, it looks amazing when it cools!

Why Are Air-dried Towels So Stiff?

A research team has found that water acts strangely on an air-drying towel, which contributes to its signature stiffness.

Entropy: The Invisible Force That Brings Disorder to the Universe

Entropy is the disorder of a system, but that means a lot more than making a mess of a room.

5 Hugely Fun Facts About Mass (Not Weight)

Weight is the measurement of gravity's pull on an object. And it varies by location. Mass is a different beast altogether.

Could an 'X17 Particle' Hint at a Fifth Force in the Universe?

The Standard Model of physics provides a framework for the subatomic world of all energies. Could a possible newfound carrier boson expand the definition of that framework?

Can't Read Roman Numerals? We Can Teach You

And it'll take XIV minutes flat.

The Pythagorean Theorem Makes Construction and GPS Possible

The Pythagorean theorem, which explains how to calculate the longest side of a right-angled triangle, is an ancient mathematical statement that still buttresses modern-day construction, aviation and even how we navigate through traffic.

Quarks Are the Building Blocks of All Matter

Protons and neutrons, the particles that form the nuclei of atoms, are themselves made up of even smaller particles known as quarks.

Mathematicians Solve Sum-of-Three-Cubes Problem for the Number 42

Two mathematicians have solved a decades-old math problem by harnessing the power of a virtual supercomputer.

Formaldehyde Is Everywhere, But Is It Dangerous?

It's an odorless gas that's present in a variety of home products, cosmetics, car exhaust and even humans. But is it bad for us?

What's the Difference Between Covalent and Ionic Bonds?

Making chemical compounds is a lot like dating. Some ions are naturally compatible; others hook up out of desperation.

Peyote Is Endangered, Spiritually Sacred and Becoming Legal

Long-banned in the U.S., except for religious purposes, peyote is starting to be decriminalized in some cities. But is that a good thing for this endangered plant?

Primary Colors Are Red, Yellow and Blue, Right? Well, Not Exactly

Primary colors are the blocks from which all other colors are built. But there's a lot more to know about them than the basic red, yellow and blue we learned about in kindergarten.

How Alchemy Paved the Way for Chemistry

Alchemy may seem like a cousin to witchcraft but in reality it was the forerunner of modern chemistry.

What Are Isotopes?

You don't need to be a fan of chemistry to appreciate isotopes. They affect geology and medicine, too.

How Are Coroners and Medical Examiners Different?

Coroners and medical examiners both help investigate unusual or violent deaths. The two jobs are different, but deeply connected.