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


Learn More / Page 2

How Pi Works

Whether the circle is as big as planet Mars or as small as a tennis ball, the ratio of its circumference divided by its diameter will always equal pi (3.14). But why?

Does Alcohol Freeze?

If you've ever had a half-frozen beer explode on you, you know that yes, alcohol freezes — but not all types freeze at the same rate. We'll let you in on the secrets to frozen alcoholic delights.

It's Elementary: The Periodic Table Quiz

It’s the ultimate cheat sheet for science class — and it’s right there hanging on the wall. What do you really know about the indispensable periodic table of elements?

How a New Blue Pigment Became a Crayon

The story of how the first new blue pigment in 200 years was discovered and took its place in the crayon box.

CERN Wants to Build a Bigger, Badder Particle Collider

The proposed collider would dwarf the existing Large Hadron Collider. But is the $22 billion price tag worth it?

5 Things You Didn't Know About Autopsies

Autopsies have been around since ancient times, but they seem so shrouded in secrecy. What goes on when a corpse goes under the knife?

Ray of Enlightenment: Is Light a Wave or a Particle?

Is it its own special type of particle? A wave that's flowing through another medium? Or is there some creepy, unknown substance surrounding us that we simply don't perceive or understand?

The Kilogram Is Dead. Meet the Kilogram 2.0

For more than a century, the mass of a kilogram was defined by a weight stored in a French vault. But now, instead of a hunk of metal, the kilogram's mass will be tied to a mathematical equation.

Skipping Stones on Ice Makes Crazy Sci-fi Sounds

You know that sound synonymous with a certain laser blaster from a galaxy far, far away? Yeah. It sounds like that.

What Makes a Scent Soothing?

Why do most of us start relaxing as soon as we smell lavender or vanilla? Is it the memories they conjure up or is there a chemical reason?

HowStuffWorks: Illustrated: Scutoids! Just Like Spheres and Cubes, But Not

The scutoid is kind of like the Higgs boson. Researchers theorized the new shape existed. And then they went looking for it.

Mathematician Claims Proof of 159-year-old Riemann Hypothesis

Sir Michael Atiyah says he has proven the Riemann Hypothesis, one of the long-unsolved problems in mathematics.

Antarctica's Spooky Cosmic Rays Might Shatter Physics As We Know It

Something very strange is afoot above the frozen landscape of Antarctica.

How 'Word Cops' Unmask Anonymous Authors

Forensic linguists may never get their own TV show, but these scientists do help solve crimes in their own way.

Closing In on Higgs, Six Years Later

We caught up with everyone's favorite boson to see what it's been up to and exactly how it decays.

Particle Acceleration Takes a Leap Forward

CERN researchers have successfully tested a new way of accelerating electrons to high energies through proton-driven plasma wakefield acceleration.

Why Does Hydrogen Peroxide Come in a Brown Bottle?

You probably have a bottle of the stuff at your house. Have you ever seen it come in any color bottle besides brown?

The EPA Just Made It Easier to Use Asbestos

The Trump administration quietly changed the rules on asbestos use in the U.S. What does that mean?

The Scutoid: How We Discover New Shapes

Spanish researchers recently uncovered a new geometric shape that allows human tissue to curve. But how?

Trillions and Quadrillions: A Short Guide to Absurdly Big Numbers

You've heard of Google, but what about a Googol? If not, then this tutorial is for you.

Bloodstains at Crime Scene Can Tell Age of Victim or Suspect

Scientists have developed a blood test that can give an approximate age of a person within an hour.

The Eyes Have It: Scientists 3-D Print Human Corneas

Scientists are using 3-D printers to make human corneas, an advancement that could end the perennial shortage of corneas from donors.

Do a Person’s Fingerprints Change After Death?

Our fingerprints serve to definitively identify us forever, right? But do they? How long do fingerprints remain usable as identification after we are dead?

Can Adults Overcome Math Anxiety?

Does your brain start to cramp at the thought of having to do math? Experts explain why some people have math anxiety and how they can overcome it.