Physics

Personalized 3D-printed devices for radioprotection of anatomical sites at high risk of radiation toxicity: intra-oral device (A), oesophageal device (B) and rectal device (C) generated from patient CT images. The area for protection is highlighted in red. (Courtesy: CC BY 4.0/Adv. Sci. 10.1002/advs.202100510) One of the primary goals of radiation therapy is to deliver a
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In June 1925 Werner Heisenberg retreated to Helgoland in the North Sea, a treeless island offering  the 23-year-old German physicist a space to think, along with some respite from the extreme hay fever he was suffering. On that remote outpost, Heisenberg had an idea that would revolutionise physics and bring profound implications for philosophy and
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Universal motion: researchers have found that patterns of travel in different cities are surprisingly universal. (Courtesy: iStock_Nikada) Patterns describing how far and how frequently people travel to different locations within cities are surprisingly universal across the world, according to a new study by an international team of researchers. While it may seem obvious that people
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By: Hannah Pell On 11 June 2021, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) released a report titled “The Race Against Time for Smarter Development.” This report consolidates a culmination of research over five years (2014-2018) on worldwide science policy trends and governance, centering on three key areas: research spending, digital technologies, and sustainability.
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Essential component: Artist’s impression of an elementary link of the USTC quantum repeater based on two absorptive quantum memories, which are the sandwich-like structures. (Courtesy: Wang Guoyan and Ma Yanbing) Quantum repeaters that can store multiplexed signals; provide heralded signals of entanglement; and operate at telecommunications wavelengths have been developed by two independent research teams.
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A Bose-Einstein condensate of exciton-polaritons. (Credit: Johannes Michl) Physicists have taken a step towards realizing the smallest-ever solid-state laser by generating an exotic quantum state known as a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) in quasiparticles consisting of both matter and light. Although the effect has so far only been observed at ultracold temperatures in atomically thin crystals
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Taken from the June 2021 issue of Physics World. Members of the Institute of Physics can enjoy the full issue via the Physics World app. The conceptual worlds of physics have long inspired artists and thinkers across disciplines. Anna Starkey explores how different approaches to visualizing physics can open up the way that society thinks
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[embedded content] On 14–18 June Physics World is celebrating Quantum Week, so today’s Red Folder is celebrating the growing influence that quantum science and technology is having on society. The Canadian rapper and playwright Baba Brinkman is not a physicist, but that hasn’t stopped him from writing and recording this wonderfully clever rap about quantum
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Topology is a form of mathematics that describes the properties of objects that do not change during continuous deformations. The old joke is that a topologist struggles to tell the difference between a coffee mug and a doughnut. Both shapes have a single hole and if the doughnut was made of a sufficiently pliable material
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Bright lights: electrical discharge within the Z Pulsed Power Facility at Sandia National Laboratory. (Courtesy: Randy Montoya) Robust new calibration standards for studying materials at extreme pressures have been developed by researchers in the US. Dayne Fratanduono at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNI) and colleagues used dynamic compression experiments to establish clear relationships between
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Maps of cerebral blood flow (CBF), arterial transit time (ATT) and BBB water exchange rate (kw) for three study participants. Increasing kw values are associated with increasing cerebrospinal fluid amyloid beta (CSF Aβ 42) concentration (from left to right). (Courtesy: Alzheimer’s Dement. 10.1002/alz.12357) A novel non-invasive neuroimaging technique can detect early-stage dysfunction of the blood–brain
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Courtesy: iStock/kimberrywood In November 2020, the Institute of Physics (IOP) launched a new podcast, Looking Glass, to coincide with their 100th anniversary. “Series 1: Society” has six episodes, in which host Angela Saini talks to expert guests about the contributions and responsibilities of physics, and physicists, in society as a whole, particularly in relation to
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Taken from the June 2021 issue of Physics World. Members of the Institute of Physics can enjoy the full issue via the Physics World app. Jim Al-Khalili is a professor of theoretical physics at the University of Surrey and an award-winning science communicator. He has presented numerous TV documentaries and radio shows – including The
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Cool, cooler, supersolid: Images of the dipolar atoms cooling down and forming the supersolid state. As the system cools, periodic density peaks emerge. (Courtesy: Maximilian Sohmen) Supersolids – materials that exhibit both spatial ordering (seen in solids) and lossless flow (seen in superfluids such as helium-II) – are poorly understood at the finite temperatures that
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Alternative interpretation: artistic interpretation of a black-hole merger. (Courtesy: LIGO/T Pyle) A compelling alternative explanation for what astrophysicists believe is the largest black hole merger measured to date has been put forth by two astronomers in Germany. Alexander Nitz and Collin Capano at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics argue that the gravitational wave
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Co-author Georg Winkler working on a set-up used to characterize the high-performance mirrors under vacuum. (© 2019 Barbara Mair, Universität Wien) Low-loss, highly-reflective “supermirrors” – that is, those that scatter and absorb very few photons – are a key technology for many research fields and are used to make optical resonators for a variety of
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Taken from the June 2021 issue of Physics World. Members of the Institute of Physics can enjoy the full issue via the Physics World app. One of the hottest topics in solid-state physics is having a fluid makeover. As Jon Cartwright reports, the consequences of topological behaviours in fluid dynamics could be far-reaching for our
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Patient safety, enhanced treatment outcomes and workflow efficiency all follow when radiotherapy clinics implement a rigorous and independent approach to quality assurance Patient-focused: the increasing complexity of radiotherapy treatment systems reinforces the need for independent patient and machine QA. (Courtesy: Sun Nuclear Corporation) In radiation therapy, patient safety starts and ends with independent QA, a
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Venus as taken by the NASA’s Galileo spacecraft on 14 February 1990. (Courtesy: NASA/JPL) NASA has announced it will send two missions to Venus to study the planet’s atmosphere and geological features. Planned for launch between 2028 and 2030, the missions have each received $500m and will become part of the agency’s discovery programme. They
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WiFi harvesters: Hyunsoo Yang (left) and Raghav Sharma, who is holding a chip embedded with about 50 spin-torque oscillators. (Courtesy: National University of Singapore) Ambient WiFi signals can be used to power small electrical devices such as LEDs, researchers in Singapore and Japan have shown. Hyunsoo Yang at the National University of Singapore and colleagues
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By: Hannah Pell RR Auction, an auction house based near Boston, Massachusetts, recently sold one of Albert Einstein’s hand-written letters for $1.2 million. The letter is addressed to Polish-American physicist Ludwik Silberstein, a known challenger to Einstein’s relativity theory, going so far as to publish a 1936 essay in the Toronto Evening Telegram titled: “Fatal
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Spinning around: physicists have created a gyroscope using nuclear spins in diamond. (Courtesy: Shutterstock/Inna Bigun) Researchers in Russia have built a highly accurate, atomic-scale gyroscope that detects rotation through changes in the coupled spins of electrons and nitrogen nuclei. Led by Alexey Akimov at the Lebedev Physical Institute in Moscow, the team created its device
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(Courtesy: iStock/agsandrew) Imagine a parallel universe where physicists are remunerated so handsomely that they can accumulate multitudinous assets. In this alternate universe, you naturally wish to share your good fortune, so you decide to divide your assets equally between your two non-physicist friends. This is an example of the number partitioning problem, in which the
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A new material that is twice as magnetostrictive as others in its class could be a significant boon for computer-chip developers. The material’s unusual ability to expand and contract in response to tiny pulses of electric current has attracted interest from the chip manufacturer Intel, which is investigating possible replacements for the CMOS (complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor)
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Thinning out: example of an ultrathin carbon nanotube film. (Courtesy: Kono Laboratory/Rice University) A new device for rotating the polarization of terahertz radiation has been created by accident by researchers in the US. While practical applications remain unclear, the discovery could boost the bandwidth available to personal electronic devices like smartphones. The terahertz region of
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Brainlab’s treatment planning software and patient imaging systems provide key building blocks in the stereotactic radiosurgery programme at Scripps MD Anderson Cancer Center Indication-specific: Elements Multiple Brain Mets SRS dose planning enables the delivery of highly conformal single-session treatments for multiple metastases. (Courtesy: Brainlab) Simplicity, automation, efficiency and dose targeting with sub-mm accuracy: these are
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Taken from the 2021 Physics World Quantum Science & Technology Briefing. You can enjoy the full issue via the Physics World app. Susan Curtis reports from the inaugural Quantum West conference, where speakers convened as part of SPIE’s Photonics West event and discussed how quantum technologies could deliver commercial solutions in the years and decades
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Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are designed to replicate human capabilities, and in some cases improve upon them. Lifelike robots are physical examples of AI technology, but it is the digital AI systems that already have a ubiquitous influence on our daily lives – from facial recognition software to decision-making tools used by banks, recruiters and
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Conceptual image of an oblique detonation wave engine-powered hypersonic aircraft. (Courtesy: background image: NASA; composite image: Daniel A Rosato) Scientists in the US have produced a detonation that is fixed in space for the first time. This standing wave detonation was created in a prototype engine and the researchers say that such a system could
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Join the audience for a live webinar at 3 p.m. BST/10 a.m. EDT on 23 June 2021 exploring skin-interfaced microfluidic technologies Want to take part in this webinar? Recent advances in materials, mechanics, and manufacturing establish the foundations for high-performance classes of microfluidic lab-on-a-chip technologies that have physical properties matched to those of human skin.
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Creating a quantum computer that integrates a large number of components is a huge challenge for many reasons. One is that most quantum bits (qubits) used today must be chilled to near absolute zero and therefore isolated from the room-temperature electronic components used to control them. This makes it extremely difficult to have large numbers
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Physicists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US have found a new way to switch antiferromagnetism on and off. Their technique, which involves doping antiferromagnetic materials with extra electrons, could allow for faster, higher-density and more stable memory storage. Riccardo Comin, who led the research. Courtesy: Comin Photon Scattering Lab Modern hard
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By: Hannah Pell Image credit: ProtoDUNE / CERN. Why does matter exist in the universe? Can we find evidence of proton decay, supporting Einstein’s dream of unified forces? These questions, among a host of others, are very much open for debate within high-energy physics, and one particle has the potential to help answer all of
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