Moving jerkily and loving it

Strictly speaking, hiking does not require special gear. However, because it takes more of a physical toll than walking, you might want a little extra help on those rocky paths, unstable hills and steep climbs. The more you exert yourself or push on into hostile terrain, the more you’ll need the right equipment. That goes double for rock climbing, scrambling or mountaineering. In this article, I go over some of at the gear you’ll need to get the most out of your hike.

How hiking gear works

Now you’re cooking with science

Induction cooktops are faster than electrics, as responsive as gas, and safer and easier to clean than glass-and-ceramic-top stoves. Unlike these other approaches, which heat food indirectly, induction cooktops use electromagnetism to heat the cookware itself. In this article, I’ll show you how the same power-producing principle that drives Hoover Dam’s giant generators is being used to cook dinner in a kitchen near you.

How induction cooktops work

Phoenix and Portland plan for potable problems

Image of a Portland bridge
Photo courtesy ASU/DCDC

Phoenix, Ariz., is a sprawling desert city with twice the population of Portland, Ore., and one-fifth its annual rainfall. The Valley of the Sun irrigates its golf courses with water channeled from the Salt, Verde and Colorado Rivers, while the City of Roses guzzles winter rains and stores the remainder in the reservoirs of the Bull Run Watershed.

What could these two cities possibly have in common? Simple. They both face seasonal water shortages if projections of population growth and climate change hold true.

Phoenix, Portland study brings policy into focus

No ordinary glass of water

Grade schools teach that there are three or four states of matter—solid, liquid, gas and possibly plasma. Nature is much fuzzier than that, however. Depending who you ask, there may be more than a dozen states of matter, along with numerous substates such as glass.

Portrait of C. Austen Angell
C. Austen Angell. Image courtesy Arizona State University

Yes, glass. Scientifically speaking, glass is a highly viscous, noncrystalline substate of matter. It is like a liquid that cools without becoming crystalline. Our everyday silica glass is but one example; many substances, including metals, become glassy under the right conditions.

Physical chemists have struggled for decades to crack the true nature of glass and understand what happens at the transition to and from the glassy state. In 1995, Nobel laureate Philip Anderson called it the “deepest and most interesting unsolved problem in solid state theory.” Now, C. Austen Angell, a chemistry professor at Arizona State University believes he has translated the Rosetta Stone of glassy substances: water.

A glassy riddle: solving the mystery of water glass

Related articles:
The science of setback
Angell helps solve mystery of ‘glassy’ water

Spin control: reading the quantum bit

Quantum computing artwork
Image courtesy Arizona State University

Some days, I feel like I’m living in the future. Then I remember that I don’t have a flying car, a hyperintelligent monkey sidekick or a quantum computer. Granted, I’ve always suspected a flying car would be a terrible idea (and the less said about the monkey, the better), but I still want my iQuantum. So, what’s the hold up?

Quantum computing is one of those ideas that has enormous potential but is so cutting-edge that even its most basic aspects, like storing and reading data, require a large assortment of people with advanced degrees. Recently, two researchers worked out a way to read quantum states using entanglement, the “spooky action at a distance” that links two quantum particles under certain conditions. The method, which they hit upon while exploring electron-electron interactions, could solve the problem of reading quantum bits (aka “qubits”) once and for all.

ASU researchers untangle quantum quirk

Writing • Editing • Commentary