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Physical Science

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

Topics to Explore

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How Nuclear Fusion Reactors Work

Fusion reactors will use abundant sources of fuel, will not leak radiation above normal background levels, and will produce less radioactive waste than current fission reactors. Learn about this promising power source.

How Invisibility Cloaks Work

An invisibility cloak seems perfectly believable in the magical world of Harry Potter, but in the real world, it's impossible, right? Not so fast.

How Aphrodisiacs Work

Most of us have heard the talk about oysters and chocolate, and maybe you've read an article about the stimulating effects of ginseng. But garlic, licorice and cucumber? Learn about the history of aphrodisiacs and whether they've been proven to be effective.

How Crack Cocaine Works

Crack cocaine, like many other illegal drugs, leads to addiction, death, increased crime rates and imprisonment. But this drug targets the inner city almost exclusively and possession or distribution of crack carries extremely harsh prison sentences.

How Viagra Works

Viagra is one of the best-known drugs of all time. Nearly every adult in America has heard of the drug and can tell you what it does. Find out how this high-profile medication works its magic.

How Autopsies Work

The thought of an autopsy usually provokes fear, apprehension or extreme anxiety in people. Cut through the mystery of this process and learn the details of the preparation, procedures and tools used to perform an autopsy.

How Electricity Works

Electricity completely surrounds us whether you're charging your cell phone or watching the sky light up during a violent thunderstorm. For most of us, modern life would be impossible without it, and the natural world relies on it.

What Is Ricin?

One person lay in critical condition on Feb. 29, 2008, after the deadly biotoxin ricin was found in his Las Vegas hotel room. What is ricin, and why is it so dangerous?

How 3-D Glasses Work

NASA's Mars rovers are sending 3-D images to Earth, so we can see depth and texture on the Martian surface. And how do we see this depth and texture? 3-D glasses, of course! Check out how they work.

How Luminol Works

Have you seen investigators on crime shows who spray some stuff on a "clean" carpet and suddenly -- blood stains! Well, of all the fictional technology on TV, it turns out this stuff is real! Find out how luminol reveals the blood.

How Mirages Work

You're driving down the road on a sunny day, and you see a puddle of water coming up. You look again and it's gone! What happened? You’ll be able to answer that question if you read our miraculous mirage article.

How Gasoline Works

Without gasoline, the world as we know it would grind to a screeching halt. The U.S. alone consumes well over a hundred billion gallons of gasoline per year. Learn all about this vital fuel.

Could Someone Really Find a Mummy in Their Backyard?

I was watching a movie the other night and the main character found a mummy in his backyard. Does this really happen? Could someone find a mummy in his backyard?

Why Does Chocolate Turn Gray Sometimes? Is It Still Safe to Eat?

My parents just came back from Belgium and they brought me several boxes of chocolates. Some of the candy is sort of grayish looking. Is it OK to eat?

How Marijuana Works

Marijuana isn't just a recreational drug for hippies and philosophy majors -- its psychoactive history ranges from Egyptian mummies to modern U.S. politics. What's the big deal about this leafy, green plant?

How Light Microscopes Work

The human eye misses a lot -- enter the incredible world of the microscopic! Explore how a light microscope works.

How Mummies Work

They stick around long after death and compete with the likes of Dracula, Frankenstein's monster and the Wolfman as one of the great figures of classic horror movies. Are you brave enough to unravel the history of these real-life, tangible ghosts?

Is there a way to make my sunglasses scratch-resistant?

I recently bought a pair of mirrored sunglasses and they are already scratched. Isn't there a way to make them scratch-resistant?

What is dye-sublimation printing?

What is dye-sublimation printing? Why is it better for printing digital images than traditional ink-jet printing?

How Atom Smashers Work

Atom smashers tell us about the fundamental structure of matter, the forces holding it together and the origins of the universe. Discover how scientists use particle accelerators to break atoms apart to learn about the nature of reality.

Biting on aluminum foil can be painful. Why?

Biting on aluminum foil can be painful -- basically, when you bite on foil, you build a battery in your mouth. Ouch!

How Atoms Work

What exactly is an atom? What is it made of? What does it look like? The pursuit of the structure of the atom has married many areas of chemistry and physics in perhaps one of the greatest contributions of modern science!

Why can you hear the ocean when holding a seashell to your ear?

Do you remember holding a large conch shell up to your ear to hear the ocean? Why does this work even when you're far away from the sea?

How Nicotine Works

Smoking or chewing tobacco makes many people feel good, even mildly euphoric. It's the nicotine that produces the buzz. Find out how nicotine affects the human body and what makes it so addictive.

How Alcohol Works

More than 2.3 billion people across the globe drink alcohol, but most don't consider it a drug. But if you've ever seen someone who's had too much, you know alcohol has profound effects on the mind and body.

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