Physics

Hot topic: Sepehr Mosadegh tests the ignition delay and burn rate of fuel mixed with graphene oxide with the hopes of creating a greener, but more powerful, aircraft fuel. (Courtesy: University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus) The simple addition of nanoparticles to a hydrocarbon fuel can significantly change the characteristics of its combustion, researchers in
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Quantum pioneer: David Deutsch has won the IOP’s 2021 Isaac Newton Medal and Prize (Courtesy: Lulie Tanett) The quantum physicist David Deutsch has won the 2021 Isaac Newton Medal and Prize for “founding the discipline named quantum computation and establishing quantum computation’s fundamental idea, now known as the ‘qubit’ or quantum bit”. Presented by the Institute of
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Fabrication of a double-layered skin model using human dermal fibroblasts (HDFs) and an immortal human keratinocyte cell line (HaCaTs). (Courtesy: Biofabrication 10.1088/1758-5090/ac2ef8) Skin is the body’s first line of defence against toxins, radiation and harmful substances. It has at least six functions, regenerates itself approximately once each month, and consists of up to seven layers
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Quantum gas magnifier: An illustration of the quantum gas magnifier resolving individual sites in the optical lattice. (Courtesy: UHH/Felix Herbort) A team from the Institute for Laser Physics at Universität Hamburg, Germany has pioneered a new way of imaging quantum gases – collections of atoms only a fraction above absolute zero. Using a series of
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Spin crossover signature: disappearing plates and plumes. (Courtesy: Columbia Engineering) Researchers have identified a quantum phase transition taking place in iron more than 1000 kilometres deep within the Earth’s mantle. This transition, known as a spin crossover, also occurs in nanomaterials used for recording information magnetically, meaning that the effect stretches from the macro- to
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Shifting the emphasis: Deep-learning models trained on original radiographs (left) focus on the image labels; models trained on radiographs with the label covered (right) emphasize anatomic features such as bones (red regions indicate greatest emphasis). (Courtesy: ARRS, American Journal of Roentgenology) Artificial intelligence (AI) has potential to play a pivotal role in many areas of
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A new ebook harnesses the knowledge and experience of more than 40 academic authors to provide a timely and comprehensive introduction to the technique of single-particle cryo-electron microscopy Into the light: Single-particle cryo-electron microscopy has yielded high-resolution 3D structures of complex biological macromolecules that were difficult or impossible to characterize using established techniques. This image
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Taken from the November 2021 issue of Physics World. Members of the Institute of Physics can enjoy the full issue via the Physics World app. Despite its many useful properties, a particular feature of the “wonder material” graphene, namely the emergent “valley Hall effect”, has been puzzling researchers for a decade, as condensed-matter physicists Luis
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Treatment boost: Nanodroplets embedded with photosensitizer (BPD), indocyanine green (ICG) and oxygen (left) increase the oxygenation of hypoxic tumours (right), enabling oxygen-enhanced photodynamic therapy. (Courtesy: Photoacoustics 10.1016/j.pacs.2021.100306) Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is an emerging cancer treatment that utilizes the photochemical interactions between light, light-sensitive drugs (photosensitizers) and oxygen to destroy tumours. The photosensitizer molecules are deposited
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A highly entangled hydrogel (left) and a regular hydrogel (right). (Courtesy: Suo Lab/Harvard SEAS) Elastic polymers can be stretched and released repeatedly without tearing and are widely employed in applications from disposable gloves to heart valves. Their main drawback is that they can generally be made either stiff or tough, but not both at the
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Uncertain forecast: why do weather apps disagree? (Courtesy: iStock/trendobjects) There are thousands of weather apps to choose from and perhaps surprisingly, they can sometimes give different forecasts. In this video from The Guardian, Josh Toussaint-Strauss explores why different apps can give different predictions for sunshine or rain. Apparently there are myriad reasons, including which algorithms
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The magnetic field of Neptune, like that of the Earth, is not static but varies over time. Pictured is a snapshot from August 2004. Courtesy: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio For a relatively simple chemical compound, water – especially its frozen varieties – is surprisingly poorly understood. An international team of researchers has now chipped away
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The open hardware movement advocates the sharing of designs for material objects. For the global science community it means people can access instructions to 3D print increasingly sophisticated tools. Just as importantly, the movement is decentralizing knowledge and giving users the ability to customize scientific equipment then repair it when things go wrong. In the
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Positive crown: Schematic view of the experiment used to visualize the sigma-hole on a bromine (Br) atom in a molecule using a scanning microscope tip functionalized with a single xenon (Xe) atom. (Courtesy: FZU/DRAWetc) Scientists have long suspected that bonds between certain negatively charged halogen atoms are made possible by regions of positive charge called
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Taken from the November 2021 issue of Physics World, where it appeared under the headline “Historical concerns”. Members of the Institute of Physics can enjoy the full issue via the Physics World app. Robert P Crease explains why the history of science is harder and more complicated than you might realize It’s complicated Studying the
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Super-Earth: artist’s conception of HD 3167b. (Courtesy:NASA/JPL-Caltech/T Pyle) Exoplanets have been spotted orbiting at right angles to each other by an international team of astronomers led by Vincent Bourrier at the University of Geneva. The team believes that this unusual configuration is caused by the influence of a yet-to-be-discovered companion object orbiting the exoplanets’ star.
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Economic driver: coal being transported by trucks in Jharia, Dhanbad, India (Courtesy: iStock/Supratim Bhattacharjee) Last Saturday a tearful Alok Sharma brought down a hammer to declare the COP26 agreement adopted – but the frustration in Glasgow was palpable. Moments earlier, national representatives had queued up to express disappointment at India’s infamous last minute interjection to
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Alice and Bob, Dutch style: A cartoon showing two communicators (Alice in Rotterdam and Bob in Amsterdam) exchanging quantum keys to keep their messages safe from the Leiden-based eavesdropper, Eve. (Courtesy: QuTech) The event I attended on Friday caught my attention for several reasons. Billed as the Quantum Network Explorer (QNE) Launch, it took place
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The experimental setup for speckle angular measurement (SAM). (Courtesy: Hongchang Wang, Simone Moriconi & Kawal Sawhney) A new X-ray imaging technique that uses sandpaper to generate “speckle” patterns makes it possible to characterize strongly curved X-ray mirrors in two dimensions with nanoscale precision. The new technique could find use in super-precision metrology while also aiding
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Celebrating progress: physicists want to hold a year of activities on the theme of quantum science and technology in 2025 (courtesy: iStock/denizbayram) Physicists around the world are drawing up plans for a year-long celebration of quantum science and technology in 2025. The campaign is being led by the American Physical Society and the German Physical
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Transforming CT: Naeotom Alpha is the world’s first photon-counting CT scanner. (Courtesy: Siemens Healthineers) Computed tomography, or CT, is a ubiquitous X-ray imaging technique used to perform more than 300 million medical imaging exams globally each year. Use of the technique continues to grow, with CT increasingly employed as a first-line diagnostic tool for conditions
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Click and reconnect: Researchers reconfiguring the photonic quantum processor using a personal computer. (Courtesy: QuiX Quantum) Scientists from QuiX Quantum and the adaptive quantum optics group at the University of Twente in the Netherlands have built the largest universal photonic quantum processor to date. The processor works by applying adjustable phase shifts to the optical
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Blue blocker: blue laser light is used at JILA to measure how quantum statistics can affect light scattering in an ultracold gas of strontium atoms. (Courtesy: Christian Sanner, Ye labs/JILA) A manifestation of the Pauli exclusion principle in ultracold atomic gases has been spotted for the first time by three independent research groups. Called Pauli
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Owls mostly hunt at night when background noise levels can be low and potential prey have a better chance of hearing danger approaching. As a result, the birds have evolved structures on their wings that greatly reduce the noise owls make while flying. In this episode of the Physics World Weekly podcast, the engineer and
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New release: Clara Holoscan is an AI development platform for software-defined medical devices. (Courtesy: NVIDIA) Today, around 30% of all the world’s data is healthcare data, with hospitals generating 50 petabytes of data each year. And by 2025, healthcare data is predicted to be growing at the highest rate of any industry. As such, it
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The latest release of LAP’s RadCalc QA software majors on customization, intelligent automation and 3D EPID-based functionality for measurement-based patient QA Safety first: The RadCalc software platform provides medical physics teams with independent patient QA at more than 2300 cancer centres worldwide. (Courtesy: LAP) Customer-driven innovation and continuous improvement are once again front-and-centre in the
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Gotcha: A cartoon illustrating how molecules of strontium fluoride are slowed and trapped within a Stark decelerator, then interrogated by a laser beam. (Courtesy: Jasmeet Jassal and Parul Aggarwal) The quest for physics outside the Standard Model often takes place at major accelerator facilities like CERN’s Large Hadron Collider or huge underground detectors for neutrinos,
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Speed of light: special relativity has been exploited to guarantee secrecy. (Courtesy: Shutterstock/jijomathaidesigners) The laws of physics have been helping to keep sensitive information secret for well over a decade, with banks and other organizations using quantum cryptography to carry out very secure communications. But new research shows that special relativity can also be exploited
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Anisotropy in action: artistic visualization of a propagating heat wave getting weaker as it approaches the top of the layered material, while spreading out in other directions. (Courtesy: neuroncollective.com (Daniel Spacek, Pavel Jirak)/Chalmers University) A simple twist has achieved a record-high anisotropy in thermal conductivity, reports an international group of researchers at the University of
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Our first guest in this episode of the Physics World Weekly podcast is the physicist Carmen Palacios-Berraquero, who is chief executive officer of Nu Quantum. The UK-based company spun-out from the from the University of Cambridge in 2018 and Palacios-Berraquero explains how the firm’s single-photon sources and detectors are used in quantum technologies. Also in
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Learning can be mimicked in synthetic matter, a discovery that in turn could inspire new algorithms for artificial intelligence (AI). (Courtesy: Rutgers University-New Brunswick) Quantum materials known as Mott insulators can “learn” to respond to external stimuli in a way that mimics animal behaviour, say researchers at Rutgers University in the US. The discovery of
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Green solutions: unprecedented investment is needed to meet climate promises (courtesy: Shutterstock/lassedesignen) The importance of scientific evidence to the negotiations at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow was given extra prominence yesterday (9 November) in what was billed as Science and Innovation Day. It saw several new initiatives unveiled at the two-week United Nations’ summit,
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The UK’s National Quantum Computing Centre aims to make connections between academics, start-ups and industrial end users to identify and develop innovative applications for quantum computing Ready, set, go: The NQCC will bring together academics, start-ups and industry experts to ensure that the UK is ready to exploit the transformative power of future quantum computers.
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