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And Now: How to Melt a Rock Using Sunlight

Don’t try this at home, kids.

In this amazing clip, Jem Stansfield, the host of BBC’s Bang Goes the Theory (sort of a UK version of Mythbusters), visits the Solar Furnace Research Facility in Southern France. There a researcher demonstrates the power of intensely concentrated sunlight, using a special furnace that can reach temperatures of 3,500 degrees C (that’s about 6,332° F), and even melt solid rock!

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The Physics of Football

NBC and the National Science Foundation have done it again. That’s right – the team that brought you the Science of the Olympic Winter Games has produced a new series of videos, and this time they’ll be “tackling” even more fun physics, math, and engineering concepts.

The Science of NFL Football, a new 10-part series, covers topics like vectors, projectiles, Newton’s Laws of Motion, and the Pythagorean Theorem. The production crew even went to some teams’ training camps, and filmed interviews with former and current NFL players and coaches. Our favorites after the jump.

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Engineers Study the Physics of Cats and Dogs

How do cats drink? Is the “wet dog shake” an effective drying mechanism? These may have fleetingly crossed your mind, but it took an engineer to get to the bottom of such creature curiosities.

The ability of felines to lap up an entire bowl of liquid may seem to defy gravity. But four engineers at MIT, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and Princeton have proven that it’s not so. Their study was inspired by observing one of their cats, Cutta Cutta.

The team used high-speed photography to capture and analyze the mysterious cat lap’s fluid dynamics. Since a cat’s tongue is not large enough to create a ladle that can “scoop” water into its mouth, kitties lightly touch the tip of their tongue to the surface of the water, and then quickly dart it back, drawing a column of liquid into their mouths.

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A Touchscreen On Ice

This brings a whole new meaning to “freeze frame”: a team of engineers in Finland has created the world’s first ice touchscreen.

The device was inspired by the Finnish tradition of building snow and ice sculptures during long winters and built by a team of Nokia researchers. In a New Scientist interview, a team member says of the inspiration for the project: “We decided to see if we could make an ice sculpture that was interactive.”

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Neptune: A New Prosthetic Fin

Fit and athletic amputees – like sprinter/long-jumper Aimee Mullins – have proved over and over that the loss of a limb is no reason to give up sports. Earlier this year, Colombian Nelson Cardona became the first amputee to climb Mt. Everest, Earth’s highest peak.

But prostheses for swimmers have remained clunky, at best.

That’s why Richard Stark, an industrial design student at Sweden’s Umea Institute of Design, was inspired to create Neptune, a specially-designed prosthesis that helps amputees swim.

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