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Showing posts from April, 2021

Paint by Numbers? Try Paint by Lasers

  By: Hannah Pell The potential impact of a work of art is by no means limited by or related to its size. Whether an intricate mural spanning the side of a building or sculpture carved on the tip of a pencil , the art of all scales is significant and meaningful to us, and the principles of optics govern its scientific source of visual beauty. I’ve written for Physics Buzz before about how conservation scientists use imaging techniques to help investigate if a piece of art is real or counterfeit — but what if I told you that an advanced paint-by-lasers method can actually be used to create artwork, including miniature masterpieces? This is exactly what researchers at the ITMO University in Russia have achieved . In a paper soon to be published in Optica, an online and open-access journal from The Optical Society (OSA), the authors demonstrate their new method for using lasers to color metal akin to artists painting with a paintbrush. How does it work? The metal is first hea

What the Columbia River Flood Basalts Teach Us

  by Allison Kubo Hutchison Approximately 20 million years ago, prehistoric horses grazed on the flat grasslands and the now extinct bear-dog dug burrows for their young throughout the lands we now call Oregon and Washington. But below the ground, there was an eruption brewing that would shape over 81,000 square miles (200,000 square kilometers) reaching across four states. The sight of the black rock lying in thick sheets across the landscape should be familiar to those who have visited the area. The Columbia River Basalt Group is an eruption of lava resulting in inflows with a thickness of more than 5,900 ft (1.8 km). Dark basalt flooded the area filling in valleys and eventually repaving the topography like asphalt. The flows reached the ocean from Eastern Oregon and forced the Columbia River into a new course. Fifteen million years ago when it was erupting the landscape steamed covered in black rock that likely took thousands of years to fully cool. It may have looked like som

Music feat. Data: Sonification of Science

  By Allison Kubo Hutchison Graphs are the bread and butter of scientists. We love them. Lines plots, bar graphs, line plots. Visual representations of data are the default on science. However, sonification, the transformation of data into sound rather than images has been gaining interest. One reason is that our ears actually have better time resolution than our eyes. This means we can hear more small changes over time than we can see. The eye only perceives a small range of frequencies — visible light — which ranges between 400-790 THz. However, hearing can pick our sounds over three orders of magnitude in the frequency space between 20 -20,000 Hz. We can also leverage both visual and aural aspects of data in combined animations and sonifications for work in science and in outreach and education. One example of this is a recent paper published in Computer Music which sonified and animated the eruptions of the Lone Star Geyser in Yellowstone National Park. The coupled music and

Two Eruptions, Both Alike in Dignity

  By Allison Kubo Hutchison Left: Glowing basaltic eruption in Iceland taken at night (image: Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir / twitter). Right: Grey ash clouds rise into the atmosphere over St. Vincent (image: University of West Indies Seismic Research Center / twitter). In Iceland, where we lay our scene, lava spills orange and black tendrils from three fissures in Geldingadalir. Meanwhile across the globe in St. Vincent ash rises into the sky in a large plume from the La Soufrière volcano. Both eruptions were preceded by numerous earthquakes which warned volcanologists that magma was coming toward the surface. However, these two eruptions have very different behaviors and thus very different hazards (though both do have hazards). On St. Vincent 16,000 people have been evacuated from their homes meanwhile hundreds gather to watch the fissures in Iceland. The eruption at St. Vincent is what volcanologists call explosive behavior. The ash plume rising 20,000 feet high is produced

Physicists Announce First Results of Fermilab Muon g-2 Experiment

By Hannah Pell  On 7 April 2021, physicists at Fermi National Laboratory announced the first results of their Muon g-2 (“g minus 2”) experiment, which have hinted that muons may behave in a way not predicted by the Standard Model, a self-consistent yet incomplete theory of fundamental particles and their interactions. You can picture a muon like a tiny, spinning top; they act as if they have an internal magnet, twirling around in response to an applied magnetic field. The strength of a muon's internal magnet is known as the “ g-factor ,” a dimensionless quantity characterizing the magnetic moment and angular momentum of a particle. The experiment is named “g minus 2” because both the theoretical value and new experimental average of the muon magnetic moment are slightly greater than 2. However, they are not equivalent; although the difference between them is incredibly small, it has been observed to be anomalous . Image Credit: Reidar Hahn/Fermilab. The Muon g-2 experiment

A Brief History of LaTeX

  \documentclass[10pt]{article}  \usepackage{geometry}  \usepackage{hyperref}  \usepackage{braket}  \usepackage{amsmath}  \usepackage{esint}  \usepackage{tikz-feynman}  \geometry{a4paper} \title{A Brief History of \LaTeX} \author{By: Hannah Pell} \date{} \begin{document} \maketitle {\it{START HERE: This post was written according to \LaTeX -style typesetting. I encourage you to copy and paste this text exactly as it appears into \href{www.overleaf.com}{Overleaf} and click `Recompile' or by downloading TeXShop to see what the document printout looks like.}}\\ Have you ever browsed physics preprints on the \href{www.arXiv.org}{arXiv}, and noticed that many of the documents have a similar appearance? Obviously the {\it{content}} differs, but the font, style, and general formatting of many preprints seem nearly uniform when you take a closer look. Why is this? The answer can be found with a document preparation program called LaTeX (usually pronounced ``lay-tekh"). L

What a Cold War Mission Reveals about Climate Change Today

  By Allison Kubo New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that in the last 1.1 Ma the Greenland Ice sheet melted at least once and reformed. The team found fossilized plants buried under 1 million years of snow based on the Camp Century Ice Core. The long core samples the layers of snow in the Greenland Ice Sheet. Silvan Leinss , Radar reflector installation Greenland , CC BY-SA 4.0 The deeper the core the older the ice is and at its deepest point the Greenland Ice Sheet measures approximately 1.9 miles. Finding dirt and plant material in the core under layers of ice indicates it was once covered with plants and maybe even trees. The researchers used cosmogenic isotopes , atoms that are only formed when radiation from space and the sun interact with dirt, to show that it melted at least once within the last 1 million years. Although it may seem like a long time, 1 million years is an eyeblink to geologists. This research indicates that

The Winding Road to Net Zero Leads Offshore

  By: Hannah Pell On 29 March 2021, the Biden administration announced another ambitious clean energy goal: deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030. According to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the U.S. offshore wind capacity was 28,521 megawatts (or 28.5 gigawatts) in 2019. Deploying an additional 30 gigawatts over a decade would more than double the current U.S. offshore wind energy generation capability. How much power is 30 GW? It could be enough to power 10 million homes for a full year, offsetting 78 million metric tons of CO2 emissions ( equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions from 16,851,398 cars driven over a year and CO2 emissions from more than 8.7 billion gallons of gasoline consumed or 20 coal-fired power plants over the course of a year). So how does energy generation from offshore wind work, and how is it different from land-based wind? What role does offshore wind play in our national energy portfolio? And what are the particular

Women Supporting Women in Science

  By Jill Kathleen Wenderott Women Supporting Women in the Sciences (WS2) , an international organization unifying and supporting graduate and professional-level women and allies in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), has recently been awarded an American Physical Society (APS) Innovation Fund to form international teams that will design and distribute low-cost physics and materials science lab kits to 5000 elementary and secondary school students, predominantly in eastern Africa. These teams will work with WS2 Partners in eastern Africa who wish to participate in outreach delivering and teaching these science lab kits to their local communities. The origin of WS2 can be traced to an intensive two-week-long live-in program of the Joint Undertaking for an African Materials Institute (JUAMI) held in Arusha, Tanzania (TZ), in 2016. JUAMI was co-founded by Sossina Haile, African Academy of Sciences Fellow and the Walter P. Murphy Professor of Materials Science

Are Diamonds Really Forever? Quantum Mechanics says yes

  By Allison Kubo Hutchison Synthetic diamond created using vapour deposition process. Steve Jurvetson , Apollo synthetic diamond , CC BY 2.0 In late 1940, the Debeers Diamond company started using the slogan “Diamonds are forever” to popularize diamond engagement rings. What they didn’t know is that in terms of quantum mechanics that might be true. Diamonds are formed of pure carbon with the atoms arranged tetrahedrally in a strong, rigid crystal structure. They are the hardest known material meaning that they have a hardness of 70-150 GPa in the Vickers Hardness test . This hardness is inherited from its strong crystal structure and is exactly what makes diamond forever. Green indicates carbon atoms within a diamond crystal structure. When a nitrogen a vacancy can form, basically an empty hole in the crystal. NIST, Nitrogen-vacancy center , marked as public domain. All materials have specific quantum states which are extremely fragile. They must be isolated from everything to be m

CDR Primer: Carbon Removal 101

  By: Hannah Pell “Go out and make the world a better place.” So ends the foreword to CDR Primer, an online, freely available digital booklet co-authored by more than a dozen climate scientists, social scientists, engineers, and writers in dialogue about carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technology and its important role in addressing our climate crisis. CDR technologies — including carbon capture use or sequestration (CCUS), reforestation, carbon-friendly soil management, among others — are used to remove carbon dioxide pollution, transport it to a storage site, and deposit it in such a way that it cannot reenter the atmosphere. Carbon removal processes are usually characterized by three different methods : biological, using forests, agricultural systems, or marine environments to capture carbon; geologic methods, capturing and storing carbon underground or in rock formations; and carbon-utilization, capturing carbon and using it to produce products like plastic or cement. Carbon