Physics

By: Hannah Pell  With instantaneous communication and access to far more information than any of us could ever know or need, it’s important that there are people we trust to clearly explain the messiness of the world around us. The COVID-19 pandemic has especially demonstrated the challenges of disseminating complex scientific research to the general
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A positron (β+) deposits energy along its track through the formation of “spurs” and a terminal “blob”, before positronium formation and annihilation to generate two 0.511 MeV photons. (Courtesy: CC BY 4.0/Sci Rep 10.1038/s41598-021-81910-4) Positron-emitting radionuclides have long been employed for diagnostic imaging, with PET scans using fluorine-18 (18F)-labelled fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) playing an essential role
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Taken from the APS Careers 2021 guide. You can enjoy the full issue online here. For under-represented minorities in physics, successfully completing an undergraduate degree in physics can be a daunting and isolating task. The APS National Mentoring Community is dedicated towards helping students find the right support and mentorship, as Tushna Commissariat  reports Supporting
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A toroidal cathode emits electrons that are guided along trajectories (dark blue) to the inside surface of the conical primary target (anode). Broadband bremsstrahlung X-rays (white) from this primary target pass through a beryllium window that seals the vacuum enclosure and interact with the conical secondary metal target, producing monochromatic fluorescence X-rays. (Courtesy: Med. Phys.
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Artist rendition of twisted trilayer graphene. Courtesy: Polina Shmatkova & Margarita Davydova Two’s company, but three’s a crowd – unless you’re trying to make graphene superconduct at higher temperatures. That is the finding of researchers at Harvard University in the US, who discovered that the superconducting state in three stacked and twisted layers of graphene
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Thin polymer discs self-propel by repeated “snapping” motions. Credit: Yongjin Kim, UMass Amherst A polymer-based gel made by researchers in the US and inspired by the Venus flytrap plant can snap, jump and “reset” itself autonomously. The new self-propelled material might have applications in micron-sized robots and other devices that operate without batteries or motors.
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By Allison Kubo Hutchison Elevation map of the Jezero Crater, landing site of the Perseverance Rover. NASA/Tim Goudge Located on the Northwest side of Isidis Basin, Jezero Crater’s lay undisturbed except for dust storms and meteorite impacts for countless eons. Jezero Crater is an uneven half-circle where the Northeast side is worn away. There are
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Cosmic ray pioneer: Bibha Chowdhuri joins the ranks of the Forces of Nature. (Courtesy: Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics) This edition of the Red Folder is going out of this world to celebrate the three missions arriving at Mars this month: United Arab Emirates’ Hope probe, China’s Tianwen-1 Mars probe and the US’s Perseverance rover.
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Sunlight sensing: Artist’s impression of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) analysing the Martian atmosphere (Courtesy: ESA) Scientists in Russia have observed trace amounts of hydrogen chloride in Mars’ atmosphere for the first time. The detection, which was based on data from the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), raises questions about the dynamics and chemistry
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Illustration of NASA’s Perseverance rover firing its descent stage engines as it nears the Martian surface (Courtesy: NASA/JPL-Caltech) NASA’s Perseverance rover has landed on Mars, completing its seven-month journey to the red planet. The Mars 2020 mission will search for signs of ancient microbial life and collect rock samples that will be returned to Earth
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Hairy merger: artist’s impression of two black holes in-spiralling towards collision. (Courtesy: NASA) Black holes may defy the famous “no-hair” theorem by leaking residual gravitational ripples that could one day be observed by gravitational-wave detectors. Such an observation would provide evidence for physics beyond the Standard Model, according to several new lines of research. Conventionally,
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Taken from the February 2021 issue of Physics World. Members of the Institute of Physics can enjoy the full issue via the Physics World app. Creative collaboration Michael John Gorman argues that science museums work best when they bring artists and scientists together for exhibits such as Self Conscious Gene by Marc Quinn, at the
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We could be on the cusp of the greatest single expansion of our known chemical universe in history. That’s thanks to a new accelerator in Michigan is going to double the number of known isotopes. This short video introduces the $750m Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB), which will come online at Michigan State University in
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Powerful, unipolar electrochemical yarn muscles that contract more when driven faster. Credit: University of Texas at Dallas An electrochemically-powered artificial muscle made from twisted carbon nanotubes contracts more when driven faster thanks to a novel conductive polymer coating. The device, which was developed by Ray Baughman of the University of Texas at Dallas in the
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Parity violation pioneer: Chien-Shiung Wu is featured on a US stamp. (Courtesy: USPS) The US Postal Service (USPS) has issued a commemorative stamp honouring the Chinese-American physicist Chien-Shiung Wu. The 1957 Nobel Prize for Physics was shared by Chen Ning Yang and Tsung-Dao Lee “for their penetrating investigation of the so-called parity laws which has
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The new metamaterial tiles in an advanced cryogenic facility. Courtesy: Eric Sucar, Penn Today Tiles made of metamaterials could make ground-based telescopes far more sensitive to the cosmic microwave background radiation that forms the “afterglow” of the Big Bang. The polyurethane-and-carbon tiles, which work by sharply reducing the reflection and scattering of stray light, are
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Taken from the February 2021 issue of Physics World, where it appeared under the headline “Let’s go green”. Members of the Institute of Physics can enjoy the full issue via the Physics World app. James McKenzie believes the UK government’s ambitious 10-point-plan for a “green industrial revolution” can deliver – if we put our collective
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Staff from IOP Publishing mark Chinese New Year with video outlining publishing support for physicists in China It’s now 10 years since Physics World published its first special report on China and since then scientific progress in the country has continued apace (as you can see from our latest China Briefing). This week, for example,
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After conversion of a standard clinical linac, it can deliver a FLASH beam with a dose rate 3000 times higher than used for conventional radiation treatment. (Courtesy: Brian Pogue) Researchers from Dartmouth have developed a method to convert a standard clinical linear accelerator (linac) used for radiation therapy to deliver a FLASH-capable, ultrahigh-dose rate (UHDR)
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A new generation of CMOS image sensors now rivals the performance of state-of-the-art photon detectors for optical telescopes, while also operating at higher speeds and over a wider dynamic range Into the light: CMOS image sensors can now rival the performance of state-of-the-art light detectors for ground-based optical telescopes. (Courtesy: ESO/C Malin (christophmalin.com)) Ground-based astronomy
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By Allison Kubo Hutchison You are enjoying a sunny beach day, showing off a new swimsuit. You take a dip in the water, you feel something brush your foot. You look down and it’s a trilobite. Your first panicked thought: Do trilobites bite? Other than the fact that trilobite went extinct 252 million years ago,
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Join the audience for a live webinar at 2 p.m. GMT/3 p.m. CET on 3 March 2021 exploring the theoretical background of Auger electron spectroscopy and the necessary instrumentation Want to take part in this webinar? Auger electron spectroscopy is a well-established surface-sensitive technique. It has been mostly used for the identification of species on
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Sandy slitherer The sidewinder rattlesnake. (Courtesy: Wolfgang Wuster) Snakes that specialize in “sidewinding” – that is, travelling at an angle relative to the direction their head is pointing – have tiny pits on their stomachs that even out the friction they feel as they move. These pits are very different from the spiky structures found
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By: Hannah Pell Being homebound during winter often means higher electricity bills for those of us north of the Sun Belt. And for many currently working remotely or attending school virtually, there may be added strain on top (although hopefully not to the same extent as the Griswold family’s infamous holiday lights). When so many
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A country’s hopes: the United Arab Emirates’ Hope mission will study the Martian atmosphere, studying daily and seasonal changes in the climate (Courtesy: MBRSC) The $200m Emirates Mars Mission successfully arrived in Martian orbit today concluding its seven-month journey to the red planet. The arrival of the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) probe – named Hope
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Exotic hint: the PandaX-II detector being assembled. (Courtesy: PandaX collaboration) New data from the PandaX-II particle detector in China leave open the possibility that the XENON1T experiment in Italy has found evidence of new physics. In June 2020 researchers working on XENON1T announced the detection of around 50 events above background levels and concluded that
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Stable enough for solar power applications. Courtesy: Greg Stewart/ SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory Solar cells made from lead halide perovskites are good at converting solar power into electricity and relatively straightforward to manufacture. Unfortunately, they’re also unstable at room temperature and ambient humidity, which is something of a drawback for devices that tend to be
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Nuclear PPE: Leticia Arnedo-Sanchez (from left), Katherine Shield, Korey Carter, and Jennifer Wacker take precautions against radioactivity as well as coronavirus to conduct experiments in Rebecca Abergel’s lab. (Courtesy: Marilyn Sargent/Berkeley Lab) New insights into the physical and chemical properties of the rare heavy element einsteinium have been gained by researchers working at several labs
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A patient with smouldering (asymptomatic) myeloma had their diagnosis upgraded to myeloma after whole-body MRI (d–f) revealed focal bone lesions. These lesions were not as easily detected using 18F-FDG PET/CT (a–c). (Courtesy: CC BY 4.0/Eur. J. Nucl. Med. Mol. Imaging 10.1007/s00259-020-05182-2) Myeloma is a blood cancer that develops from plasma cells in the bone marrow
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Kilauea summit lava lake at a depth of 515 ft (156 m) taken 8 a.m. Dec. 23. USGS photo by H. Dietterich By Allison Kubo Hutchison On December 20, 2020, at about 9:30 PM, Halema’uma’u Crater, the traditional home of the goddess Pele, hosted the first eruption of the Kilauea volcano since going silent in
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The atomic tip of a scanning tunnelling microscope probing a metal surface with a cobalt atom on top. Courtesy: Forschungszentrum Jülich A new type of quasiparticle – dubbed the “spinaron” by the scientists who discovered it – could be responsible for a magnetic phenomenon that is usually attributed to the Kondo effect. The research, which
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Do quantum effects such as entanglement and coherence play a role in consciousness? In this episode of the Physics World Weekly podcast, Betony Adams of the Center for Quantum Technology at South Africa’s University of KwaZulu-Natal talks about recent developments in the burgeoning and contentious field of quantum biophysics. Also in this week’s podcast is
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Taken from the February 2021 issue of Physics World, where it appeared under the headline “Quantum sensing the brain”. Members of the Institute of Physics can enjoy the full issue via the Physics World app. Novel technology in healthcare based on fundamental physics saves millions of lives every year but while these machines have revolutionized
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The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility’s first online User Meeting will allow attendees from all over the world to explore the technical and scientific capabilities of the new Extremely Brilliant Source Shining light: the Extremely Brilliant Source, or ESRF-EBS, boosts the brilliance and coherence of the X-ray beams at the facility by around a factor of
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