Friday, November 30, 2018

Princeton Physicists Design Light-Twisting Plasma Chamber

It was my first day at the cyclotron, and I stood in an underground lab area that smelled like sawdust and solder, sectioned off behind the heavy black vinyl of a laser safety curtain.  I squinted at the chunky piece of glass held delicately between my fingers—the lab chief had called it a quarter wave plate. From certain angles, its translucent surface gleamed like a tinted mirror, reflecting a bizarrely yellow-green hued world.

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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Star Light, Star Bright: Measuring All the Starlight (Ever!)

If you made a wish on every star in the universe, you’d need to make about a trillion trillion wishes—that’s a 1 followed by 24 zeros. Of course, you can’t see all of those stars from your bedroom window. You can’t even see them all from the Hubble Space Telescope, and you won’t be able to with the James Webb Space Telescope either.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Physics Has an Obvious Gender Problem—So How Does Someone End Up Thinking the Field is Biased Against Men?

Few pursue a career in physics expecting it to be a smooth ride; the subject is notoriously challenging, the playing field competitive. For women, though, the road can be downright treacherous. Feelings of not belonging or imposter syndrome, rampant among physics students at the best of times, are compounded by the frequent lack of female faculty members (women held only 14% of physics faculty positions in the U.S. as of 2010) and the harassment women face, leading many to give up or change majors early into their physics careers. So when, earlier this year, a physicist named Alessandro Strumia took the stage at CERN's first workshop on high-energy theory and gender only to launch into a tirade alleging that the field is biased against men, the community responded swiftly with what can only be described as a logical and statistical beatdown.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Peering into the Chaos at the Cores of Colliding Galaxies

Astronomers predict that in about four billion years, our very own Milky Way Galaxy will collide with its neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy. Although the thought of galaxies running into each other brings visions of havoc and fiery collisions, the truth is that since galaxies are mostly empty space, not a whole lot is likely to happen to stars like our Sun, comfortably housed on the periphery of the galaxy. The galactic centers though—that’s another story, and one that work by Dr. Michael Koss at Eureka Scientific, Inc., is helping to shed light on.

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Monday, November 19, 2018

Scientists Reveal How "Molecular Boxes" Self-Assemble, Stretch to Fit Contents

Think back to your high-school biology class, where you learned about DNA. Deoxyribonucleic acid is the building block of life. It is present in each of our cells and determines countless physical traits. But this incredibly complex molecule is impressive for another reason: single strands can spontaneously connect with each other to form the familiar double helix structure.

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Friday, November 16, 2018

Meet the Scientists Using Swarms of "Remote Control" Bacteria to Study Collective Behavior

“It's unbelievable to be able to move a joystick and watch an organism that is 10x smaller than the width of my hair move across a screen,” says Christopher Pierce, a doctoral student at The Ohio State University (OSU) working with Dr. Ratnasingham Sooryakumar.

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Thursday, November 15, 2018

These Fluid-Filled Tiles Could Help Keep the Buildings of the Future Cool

Sunlight is the power source for nearly all life on Earth, but it can be destructive, too. When too much radiation—particularly the heat rays of the near-infrared—hits manmade structures, it can cause them to overheat, warp, and even fracture.

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Monday, November 12, 2018

Now You Can Listen to the Moon Landing

On July 20, 1969, just before 11 p.m. Eastern time, Neil Armstrong planted the first human footprints on another world. It was a defining moment in a journey that had transfixed the planet.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Surprising Discovery Gives "Plasma Lenses" a Clearer Future

It might surprise you that scientists at CERN—the home of the world’s largest particle accelerator—don’t always think bigger is better. At 17-miles in diameter, CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the biggest and most powerful particle accelerator in the world. It’s the hub of high energy physics research, drawing scientists from around the globe and managing to make the Higgs boson a household name. But as CERN researchers look to the future, some of them are thinking small. Well, small in size, not small in impact.

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Monday, November 05, 2018

Next-Gen Satellites May Use Lasers to Part the Clouds

Scientists of the future huddle around a computer, waiting for an HD live stream of the incoming asteroid. As the probe that will provide the crucial communication slowly moves into view of the asteroid, they know that every second counts. In a surprising move, they tune their receivers not to radio frequencies, like we do today, but to a much higher frequency—somewhere in the near-infrared. But they think nothing of it—infrared and visible light allows for a much better transmission of data, and all of the leading satellite producers have switched over by now. But at the last minute, a cloud rolls in above the station, scattering the message from the relay satellite in all directions and cutting off the receiver.

That’s where the work of Dr. Jean-Pierre Wolf comes in.

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