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NanoCars race on gold, sketchers invade Fermilab, physics of Thor versus the Hulk


By Sarah Tesh

Science has taken motor racing to a whole new, extremely small level with the NanoCar Race. The competition on 28 April will see nanoscale molecular machines “speed” around a gold racetrack for 38 hours. As the tiny-molecule cars are not visible to the naked eye, the race will take place inside a scanning tunnelling microscope (STM) at the Center for the Development of Materials and Structural Studies (CEMES), part of the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France. The teams behind the NanoCars control their vehicles using electric pulses but are not allowed to push them mechanically. Details about the cars and their teams can be found on this website, where you will also be able to watch the race later this month. There is more about the competition in the above video.

There has been an invasion at the Fermilab particle-physics lab in the US. Artists from the group Urban Sketchers Chicago descended upon the facility last month to draw people, buildings, labs and the onsite bison herd. Urban Sketchers is an international network of artists, connecting people who practise on-location drawing around the world. While at Fermilab, the Wilson Hall in particular drew the artists’ attention. The artwork can be found on the group’s Facebook page.

One certainty in these uncertain times is that every new superhero film will be heralded by a physicist who does a calculation regarding a superpower appearing in that film. The latest comes from Rhett Allain at Southeastern Louisiana University, US, who has worked out how hard Thor hits The Hulk in a trailer of the upcoming feature Thor: Ragnarok. Not content with scribbling down a few free-body diagrams, Allain has even come up with a lab demonstration to support his conclusion. You can read all about it (and watch the demonstration) in Wired.


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