The effects of gravity are relevant when building houses or flying airplanes, but biologists have generally accepted that the average cell is too small for gravity to play a role in how it is built or behaves. A finding by Princeton Univ. researchers now shows gravity imposes a size constraint on cells. The results provide a novel reason why most animal cells are small and of similar size.
Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have succeeded in producing and measuring a coupling of photons and electrons on the surface of an unusual type of material called a topological insulator. This type of coupling had been predicted by theorists, but never observed.
Researchers have demonstrated a new method for measuring laser power by reflecting the light off a mirrored scale, which behaves as a force detector. Although it may sound odd, the technique is promising as a simpler, faster, less costly and more portable alternative to conventional methods of calibrating high-power lasers used in manufacturing, the military and research.
Scientists have a new way to edge around a difficult problem in quantum physics, now that a research team from NIST and the Joint Quantum Institute have proved their recent theory about how particles of light flow within a novel device they built. While the problem itself may be unfamiliar to many, the team's solution could help computer designers use light instead of electricity to carry information in computer circuits.
Of all the standard units currently in use around the world, the kilogram is the only one that still relies on a physical object for its definition. But revising this outdated definition will require precise vacuum-based measurements that researchers are not yet able to make. A new system is in development that would allow a direct comparison of an object being weighed in a vacuum to one outside a vacuum.
A new physics model developed at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute shows that changing air flows can transfer energy to wind turbines from both above and below the blades. According to the researchers, many wind turbine array studies overlook the fact that important airflow changes occur inside the array.
The journey of light from the very early universe to modern telescopes is long and winding. The ancient light traveled billions of years to reach us, and along the way, its path was distorted by the pull of matter, leading to a twisted light pattern. This twisted pattern of light, called B-modes, has at last been detected and will lead to better maps of matter across our universe.
Active camouflage has taken a step forward at Harvard Univ., with a new coating that intrinsically conceals its own temperature to thermal cameras. In a laboratory test, a team placed the device on a hot plate and watched it through an infrared camera as the temperature rose. Initially, it behaved as expected, giving off more infrared light as the sample was heated.
Researchers have recently provided the first evidence ever that it is possible to generate a magnetic field by using heat instead of electricity. The phenomenon is referred to as the Magnetic Seebeck effect or “thermomagnetism”.
In recent years, the development of devices known as plasma actuators has advanced the promise of controlling flows in new ways that increase lift, reduce drag and improve aerodynamic efficiencies. A Univ. of Florida team has been engineering their own variety, called serpentine plasma actuators, which imparts a greater level of versatility in flow control.
The universe is a vast and mysterious place, but thanks to high-performance computing technology scientists around the world are beginning to understand it better. They are using supercomputers to simulate how the Big Bang generated the seeds that led to the formation of galaxies such as the Milky Way.
Micromachines operate under very different conditions than their macroscale cousins. The high surface-area-to-mass ratio of tiny motors means they require a constant driving force to keep them going. In the past, researchers have relied on asymmetric chemical reactions on the surface of the motors to supply the force. Researchers in Japan have now discovered, however, that two-sided materials aren't necessary to make micromotors move.
During evolution, many plants and organisms have developed mushroom-shaped adhesive structures and organs that allow them to climb walls and grip surfaces. Through observations of these microstructures at speeds of up to 180,000 frames per second, scientists have discovered why the specific shape is advantageous for adhesion.
U.S. and German scientists have decoded a key molecular gateway for the toxin that causes botulism, pointing the way to treatments that can keep the food-borne poison out of the bloodstream. The study leaders created a 3-D crystal model of a complex protein compound in the botulinum neurotoxin. This compound binds to the inner lining of the small intestine and allows passage of the toxin into the bloodstream.
When the "war on cancer" was declared, identifying potential biomarkers that would allow doctors to detect the disease early on was a significant goal. To this day, progress depends on understanding the underlying causes and molecular mechanisms of the disease. In a new study, researchers analyzed the gene-expression profiles of more than 2,000 patients and were able to identify cancer-specific gene signatures for certain cancers.
Researchers have come one step closer to understanding unstable atomic nuclei. A team of researchers from RIKEN, the Univ. of Tokyo and other institutions in Japan and Italy has provided evidence for a new nuclear magic number in the unstable, radioactive calcium isotope 54Ca. In a study published in Nature, they show that 54Ca is the first known nucleus with 34 neutrons (N) where N = 34 is a magic number.
A group of physicists from Canada have been growing their own icicles in a laboratory in the hope of solving a mystery that has, up until now, continued to puzzle scientists. The presence of characteristic ripples along the surface of icicles, which remarkably have the same wavelength no matter how big the icicle or where in the world it grows, have led to several studies examining exactly how the ripples form.
Carbyne will be the strongest of a new class of microscopic materials if and when anyone can make it in bulk. If they do, they’ll find carbyne nanorods or nanoropes have a host of remarkable and useful properties, as described in a paper by Rice Univ. theoretical physicist Boris Yakobson and his group.
Using ultra-fast laser pulses, a team of researchers led by the Univ. of Arizona has made the first detailed observation of how energy travels through diamonds containing nitrogen-vacancy centers—promising candidates for a variety of technological advances such as quantum computing.
Light might be able to play a bigger, more versatile role in the future of quantum computing, according to new research by Yale Univ. physicists. The team of physicists has coaxed an unprecedented number of light particles, or photons, to behave quantum mechanically, or to assume more than one state simultaneously, such as “alive” and “dead.” In this case, the light is in the form of trapped microwave photons.
A Binghamton Univ. scientist and his international colleagues report on the successful synthesis of the first superconductor designed entirely on the computer. The synthesized material, a novel iron tetraboride compound, is made out of two common elements, has a brand-new crystal structure and exhibits an unexpected type of superconductivity for a material that contains iron, just as predicted in the original computational study.
Francois Englert of Belgium and Peter Higgs of Britain won the 2013 Nobel Prize in physics for their theoretical discoveries on how subatomic particles acquire mass. Their theories are key to explaining the building blocks of matter and the origins of the universe. They were confirmed last year by the discovery of the so-called Higgs particle, also known as the Higgs boson, at CERN, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.
François Englert and Peter W. Higgs are jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics 2013 for the theory of how particles acquire mass. In 1964, they proposed the theory independently of each other (Englert together with his now deceased colleague Robert Brout). In 2012, their ideas were confirmed by the discovery of a so called Higgs particle at the CERN laboratory outside Geneva in Switzerland.
The announcements of this year's Nobel Prize winners will start Monday with the medicine award and continue with physics, chemistry, literature, peace and economics. The secretive award committees never give away any hints in advance of who could win, but here's a look at five big scientific breakthroughs that haven't yet received a Nobel prize.
Researchers in Japan have developed a new photodiode that can detect in just milliseconds a certain type of high-energy ultraviolet light, called UVC, which is powerful enough to break the bonds of DNA and harm living creatures. The new device shows promise for space-based communication and monitoring ozone depletion.