a cartoon of the 3D donut laser, looking a bit like a volcano, is shown pointed toward the disc-like laser sail. In three panels, the sail is shown moving outside the exact center of the beam, or tilting so as to not be perfectly perpendicular to the beam.
Shine a laser pointer at a cat, and the cat may see and try to catch the light, but it certainly won’t feel it. What if that light were not a milliwatt laser, but one hundred trillion times stronger — and the cat were essentially weightless, floating in space? “Normally, […]

Laser focused on Alpha Centauri


This is a guest post by Jim Lattis, the director of UW Space Place.  Drop by the Washburn Observatory on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus from 6:30 a.m. to noon on Monday, Nov. 11, to get a safe, rare glimpse of Mercury as it crosses the face of the Sun. […]

Watch Mercury transit the Sun on Monday, Nov. 11!


This guest post comes to us from Jevin Lortie, a graduate research assistant in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at UW–Madison. Just before Christmas last year, Grandma Barbara, or Ba as we affectionately call her, had finally decided to let us admit her to the hospital. She had come down […]

Helping doctors keep their patients strong enough to recover



This post comes to us from departing science writing intern Tyler Fox, who graduated in May. Congrats, Tyler! And thanks for a year of great stories. Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is everywhere. Walgreens and CVS now offer lotions and snacks containing CBD. Local restaurants sell cocktails with CBD infusions. […]

CBD: what researchers and medical professionals do and don’t know


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Adapted from original story by Brita Larson, Center for Healthy Minds: We can feel stress in the body through common sensations: sweaty palms, racing heart and shallow breathing. Some people cope with signs of stress in their lives by ignoring it. Some may not recognize these as signs of stress. […]

Greater well-being when awareness of stress aligns with the heart


Hawaiian bobtail squid typically grow to around a golf ball in size, and have no outer protection from predators besides counter-illumination.
Imagine you’re a plucky, golf ball-sized squid swimming in the clear blue ocean on a moonlit night. Your round shape means a distinctive shadow casts on the ocean floor thanks to the light of the moon, and predators are looking for prey by night. How do you, a small piece […]

How charming squid and glowing bacteria make a match in ...



Students examine their bacterial cultures as they check on how their variables affect the development of antibiotic stimuli. 1
More and more bacteria are becoming resistant to traditional antibiotics, and this resistance has become a focal point of research at many universities. Common infections like pneumonia, tuberculosis and salmonellosis are becoming harder to treat with today’s antibiotic medicines – creating an urgent need for new antibiotics. Tiny Earth was […]

Tiny Earth: Advancing antibiotic discoveries through undergraduate research


A greyscale electron microscopy image of a plant cell is shown on the left, the false-color rendering of the features in the EM image is shown on the right
Give most kids a basic microscope and a leaf or a drop of pond water, and they are in awe of the, well, microscopic patterns and organisms they can now see. Give a cell biologist a transmission electron microscope (TEM), and they can understand how structures within cells are organized […]

Seeing things more clearly, thanks to campus-wide microscopy effort


Seven days before the polar vortex blanketed Madison in nearly record-low temperatures, researchers, meteorologists  and UW administrative leaders were already discussing how campus would be affected. Immediately after learning of the impending cold, Shane Hubbard began to work with UWPD’s Emergency Management Unit to advise and prepare campus . A research […]

Disaster watch: Meet the meteorologist who keeps campus safe