Physics

Two-level systems: two of NIST’s superconducting thermometers for measuring cryogenic temperatures are glued to the lower left and upper right of this amplifier. (Courtesy: J Wheeler/NIST) A simple miniature thermometer that can quickly and accurately measure the temperature of ultracold microwave-based devices has been built by Joel Ullom and colleagues at the National Institute of
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The fastest timescales. The highest pressures. Absolute zero. The nanoscale. These conditions are far from our everyday experience, but studying how things behave in different situations can reveal a more complete picture of their nature—and can lead to revolutionary breakthroughs. Click to enlarge. This false-color map of a random light field includes a large number
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Precursors of life: comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as seen by Rosetta (Courtesy: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM, CC BY-SA IGO 3.0) Some key molecular building blocks of life could have been created far earlier on in the formation of the solar system than previously thought. Experiments and simulations done by Sergio Ioppolo at Queen Mary University of London and an international
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Good vibrations: artist’s concept of sound being transmitted in a fermionic superfluid. (Courtesy: Christine Daniloff/MIT) The acoustic properties of an ultracold fermion gas have been measured either side of the superfluid transition temperature in an experiment that has been described as “near perfect” and “beautiful”. The results could have significant implications for understanding everything from
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All you need to know about the physics of smart speakers and why John Bell’s contributions to quantum physics are still making us think today Sounds good: the physics of smart speakers is the cover feature of the December 2020 edition of Physics World “Alexa, play some Christmas music.” “OK Google, turn on the fairy
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[embedded content] The Canadian teenager Maryam Tsegaye has bagged a total of $400,000 in prizes for making the above video about quantum tunnelling. Tsegaye, 17, is winner of the 2020 Breakthrough Junior Challenge, which was founded by the billionaires Yuri and Julia Milner. Tsegaye is a student at École McTavish Public High School in Fort
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Quantum advantage: the Gaussian boson sampling experiment at the University of Science and Technology of China. (Courtesy: Chao-Yang Lu) A optical circuit has performed a quantum computation called “Gaussian boson sampling” (GBS) 100 trillion times faster than a supercomputer could, according to researchers in China. This feat was achieved by Jian-Wei Pan and Chao-Yang Lu
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The second week in December is Black in Nanotech Week and its co-founder Olivia Geneus is our guest in this episode of the Physics World Weekly podcast. Geneus talks to Margaret Harris about her interest in using nanotechnology to develop new ways of treating cancer, and about the need to highlight the accomplishments of Black
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Tri-state area: this megaflash contained a superbolt that was 1000 times brighter than normal lightning. It was observed by the Geostationary Lightning Mapper and covers much of Tennessee, extending into Alabama and North Carolina. Superbolts – the rare and most extreme form of lightning — can be more than a thousand times brighter than regular
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Researchers from MIT have come up with a new way to fabricate nanoscale structures using an innovative “shrinking” technique. The new method uses equipment many laboratories already have and is relatively straightforward, so it could make nanoscale fabrication more accessible. Image Credit: Illustration by Abigail Malate, American Institute of Physics Conventional nanostructure manufacturing techniques—ones that
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Telltale traces: Horizontal yellow streaks show Brown-Zak fermions propagating along straight trajectories with high mobility (low resistance). Courtesy: J Barrier Researchers at the University of Manchester in the UK have identified a new family of quasiparticles in superlattices made from graphene sandwiched between two slabs of boron nitride. The work is important for fundamental studies
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Cool tool: A photo of the scanning quantum cryogenic atom microscope, or SQCRAMscope. (Courtesy: Benjamin Lev) Physicists have deployed a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) as a “quantum microscope” to study phase transitions in a high-temperature superconductor. The experiment marks the first time a BEC has been used to probe such a complicated condensed-matter phenomenon, and the
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Arches of chaos: Jovian-minimum-distance maps for the Greek and Trojan orbital configurations. (Courtesy: Nataša Todorović, Di Wu and Aaron Rosengren/Science Advances) If we had a “Physics paper title of the year award”, the 2020 winner would surely have to be “The arches of chaos in the solar system”, which was published this week in Science
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Sugar. A variant on the sweetest ingredient in many a sumptuous holiday feast, glycolaldehyde has now been found in a star-forming region of space far from the galactic center called G31.41+0.31, about 26,00 light years away from Earth. Directly linked to the origin of life, glycolaldehyde is an advantageous find for researchers seeking out habitable
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This year the Materials Research Society will replace its traditional Boston-based Fall Meeting with a virtual conference and exhibition Virtual exhibit: this year’s Spring and Fall Meetings of the Materials Research Society will be combined into one online event. (Courtesy: Shutterstock/Ambelrip) For nearly 50 years, researchers from around the world have converged in Boston for
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Wild Turkey / Image Credit: Andrea Westmoreland via Flickr There are 60-foot high balloons floating above packed city blocks, cranberries on the stove, inside-the-turkey stuffing, mashed potatoes, outside-the-turkey stuffing, football, abominably huge turkeys, and one lucky bird. The best part of Thanksgiving dinner? Leftover Thanksgiving dinner. But those leftovers take hard work– that hot, perfect,
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Random wavelengths: artist’s impression of a method for measuring and controlling quantum spins developed at Princeton University. (Courtesy: Rachel Davidowitz) The spin states of entangled erbium ions in a solid crystal can be controlled and read out individually  using a new technique developed by Jeff Thompson and colleagues at Princeton University in the US. In
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Who hasn’t wished the doctor would prescribe a week of vacation or a trip to Walt Disney World to cure an ailment? For patients with kidney stones, that might be just around the corner. According to research published in 2016 in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, a trip to your local amusement park might
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Confocal fluorescence image of gold nanotubes (green) in a mesothelioma cell. Scale bar: 20 µm. (Courtesy: Arsalan Azad) Gold nanotubes can destroy cancer cells, according to physicists and medical researchers at the University of Cambridge and the University of Leeds. They found that their nanotubes, which were tuned to have strong near-infrared absorption, can enter
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End of the line: the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico photographed before the recent cable failures. (Courtesy: NAIC) Officials at the US National Sci­ence Foundation have decided to decommission the iconic Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico after a second cable failure caused fresh damage to the telescope’s metal platform, which is suspended above the
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Join the audience for a live webinar at 3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. EST on 2 December 2020 exploring the physical principles of electrochemical acoustic interrogation Want to take part in this webinar? Acoustics and batteries. (Courtesy: Columbia Electrochemical Energy Centre) Although classic battery engineering is firmly rooted in chemical engineering and chemistry, the last decade
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Tis a magic place: scale model of Stonehenge showing (A) outer sarsen circle; (B) outer bluestone circle; (C) inner trilithon horseshoe and (D) inner bluestone oval. (Courtesy: T Cox, B Fazenda and S Greaney/Journal of Archaeological Science) It may look like something from the mockumentary This is Spinal Tap, but this 1:12 scale model of
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Too close for comfort: Artist’s impression of K2-141b. (Courtesy: McGill University/Julie Roussy) A fiery exoplanet located barely a million kilometres from its parent star is covered by magma oceans and has an atmosphere of vapourized rock on its “day” side, whilst its “night” side remains cold enough for glaciers to form. This is the finding
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By: Hannah Pell Two years ago on November 16th, 2018, representatives from more than 60 member nations of the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (International Bureau of Weights and Measures) convened in Versailles, France to make a very important decision. Representatives in attendance to the 26th General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) unanimously
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Canek Fuentes-Hernandez holding a ring-shaped, large-area organic photodiode that has comparable performance to silicon-based photodiodes. Credit: Canek Fuentes-Hernandez, Georgia Tech Although silicon photodiodes are widely employed in a host of light-detection technologies, scaling them up is difficult and expensive. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in the US have now compared the
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Focused ultrasound can be used to open the blood–brain barrier, enabling delivery of drugs into the brain. (Courtesy: Kevin Van Paassen, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre) “Focused ultrasound is a rapidly expanding field – and if you look at research publications covering focused ultrasound in the brain, there’s an exponential rise in interest,” said Nir Lipsman,
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Pictorial representation of the molecule-based magnet and its magnetic properties. Credit: Rodolphe Clérac Researchers have shown that certain metal-organic materials can act as permanent magnets at temperatures of up to 242°C, while remaining magnetized in external magnetic fields as strong as 7500 oersteds – 25 times higher than other “molecular magnets” reported previously. Both values
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