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Zooming in

May 1, 2015 8:05 am | by Julie Cohen, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara | News | Comments

The microwave oven has been around for almost 80 years. When it heats food or liquid, the frequency of electrons increases but their energy slows down due to their own microwave emissions. Until now, scientists have only been able to observe this phenomenon in a group of electrons.

Did dinosaur-killing asteroid trigger largest lava flows on Earth?

May 1, 2015 7:47 am | by Robert Sanders, Univ. of California, Berkeley | News | Comments

The asteroid that slammed into the ocean off Mexico 66 million years ago and killed off the dinosaurs probably rang the Earth like a bell, triggering volcanic eruptions around the globe that may have contributed to the devastation, according to a team of Univ. of California, Berkeley geophysicists.

Close-ups of two "packaged" photonic thermometers, each with its ponytail of optical fibers. A droplet of hardened, transparent epoxy (center) connects a fiber optic array (top) to a photonic chip containing two temperature-sensing devices (bottom). The t

Photonic thermometers: Out of the lab, into a bucket of water

April 30, 2015 2:48 pm | by Jennifer Lauren Lee, NIST | News | Comments

A new class of tiny chip-based thermometers being developed by PML’s Sensor Science Division has the potential to revolutionize the way temperature is gauged. These sensors, which measure temperature using light, are called photonic thermometers, and compared to traditional thermometry techniques they promise to be smaller, more robust, resistant to electromagnetic interference, and potentially self-calibrating.

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Schematic of NSTX tokamak at PPPL with a cross-section showing perturbations of the plasma profiles caused by instabilities. Without instabilities, energetic particles would follow closed trajectories and stay confined inside the plasma (blue orbit). With

An improvement to the global standard for modeling fusion plasmas

April 30, 2015 2:35 pm | by Raphael Rosen, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory | News | Comments

The gold standard for modeling the behavior of fusion plasmas may have just gotten better. Mario Podestà has updated the worldwide computer program known as TRANSP to better simulate the interaction between energetic particles and instabilities—disturbances in plasma that can halt fusion reactions. The updates could lead to improved capability for predicting the effects of some types of instabilities in future facilities.

A simulation of colloids in liquid crystals

Desirable defects: A new meta-material based on colloids and liquid crystals

April 30, 2015 1:52 pm | by International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA) | News | Comments

A new method made computer models of colloidal suspensions in liquid crystals subjected to electrical fields modulated over time. These composite materials have been receiving plenty of attention for their optical properties for some time now, but the use of electrical fields to modify them at will is an absolute novelty.

SCU15 is a unique superconducting undulator for production of high-brilliance x-rays installed in the ANKA storage ring. Courtesy of KIT/ANKA/BNG

Novel superconducting undulator provides first X-ray light at ANKA

April 30, 2015 12:16 pm | by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Synchrotron radiation facilities provide insights into the world of very small structures like microbes, viruses or nanomaterials and rely on dedicated magnet technology, which is optimized to produce highest intensity beams. The ANKA synchrotron radiation facility at KIT and Babcock Noell GmbH now took a technological leap forward: They have successfully developed, installed, and tested a novel full-length superconducting undulator.

In a diffusive light-scattering medium, light moves on random paths (see magnifying glass). A normal object (left) casts a shadow, an object with an invisibility cloak (right) does not. Courtesy of R. Schittny / KIT

No Hogwarts invitation required: Invisibility cloaks move into real-life classroom

April 30, 2015 11:54 am | by The Optical Society | News | Comments

Who among us hasn't wanted to don a shimmering piece of fabric and instantly disappear from sight? Unfortunately, we non-magical folk are bound by the laws of physics, which have a way of preventing such fantastical escapes. Real-life invisibility cloaks do exist. Researchers have developed a portable invisibility cloak that can be taken into classrooms. It can't hide a human, but it can make small objects disappear from sight.

The accelerator of the compact light source. Courtesy of Klaus Achterhold / TUM

Compact synchrotron makes tumors visible

April 30, 2015 11:39 am | by Technische Universität München | News | Comments

Soft tissue disorders like tumors are very difficult to recognize using normal X-ray machines. There is hardly any distinction between healthy tissue and tumors. Researchers at the Technische Universität München have now developed a technology using a compact synchrotron source that measures not only X-ray absorption, but also phase shifts and scattering. Tissue that is hardly recognizable using traditional X-ray machines is now visible.

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NASA's EUNIS sounding rocket examined light from the sun in the area shown by the white line (imposed over an image of the sun from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory) then separated the light into various wavelengths (as shown in the lined images – spectr

Strong evidence for coronal heating theory presented

April 29, 2015 12:58 pm | by NASA | News | Comments

The sun's surface is blisteringly hot at 10,340 degrees Fahrenheit—but its atmosphere is another 300 times hotter. This has led to an enduring mystery for those who study the sun: What heats the atmosphere to such extreme temperatures? Normally when you move away from a hot source the environment gets cooler, but some mechanism is clearly at work in the solar atmosphere, the corona, to bring the temperatures up so high.

Fine details of a magnetic flux rope captured by the New Solar Telescope at Big Bear Solar Observatory for Solar Active Region 11817 on 2013 August 11. The structure is further demonstrated by the 3-D magnetic modeling based the observations of Helioseism

Observatory captures groundbreaking images of flaring solar flux ropes

April 29, 2015 12:53 pm | by New Jersey Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Scientists at NJIT’s Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO) have captured the first high-resolution images of the flaring magnetic structures known as solar flux ropes at their point of origin in the Sun’s chromosphere. Their research, published in Nature Communications, provides new insights into the massive eruptions on the Sun’s surface responsible for space weather.

Analysis of multifractals, conducted by the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Kraków, Poland, suggest the existence of an unknown mechanism on the Sun, influenced by changes in the number of sunspots. Graphs on multifractal

Multifractals suggest the existence of an unknown physical mechanism on the Sun

April 29, 2015 12:49 pm | by The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences | News | Comments

The famous sunspots on the surface of the Earth's star result from the dynamics of strong magnetic fields, and their numbers are an important indicator of the state of activity on the Sun. Researchers have been conducting multifractal analysis into the changes in the numbers of sunspots. The resulting graphs were surprisingly asymmetrical in shape, suggesting that sunspots may be involved in hitherto unknown physical processes.

1st proton collisions at the world’s largest science experiment expected to start in early June

April 29, 2015 12:42 pm | by Margaret Allen, Southern Methodist University | News | Comments

First collisions of protons at the world’s largest science experiment are expected to start the first or second week of June, according to a senior research scientist with CERN’s Large Hadron Collider in Geneva. The LHC in early April was restarted for its second three-year run after a two-year pause to upgrade the machine to operate at higher energies.

Apparatus measures single electron’s radiation to try to weigh a neutrino

April 29, 2015 11:41 am | by University of Washington | News | Comments

University of Washington physicists are part of a team that made a step forward in their efforts to pin down the mass of a neutrino, an elusive subatomic particle that played a role in the formation of the universe.

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Robotically discovering Earth's nearest neighbors

April 29, 2015 11:34 am | by University of Hawaii at Manoa | News | Comments

A team of astronomers using ground-based telescopes in Hawaii, California, and Arizona recently discovered a planetary system orbiting a nearby star that is only 54 light-years away. All three planets orbit their star at a distance closer than Mercury orbits the sun, completing their orbits in just 5, 15, and 24 days.

Chirping electrons: Cyclotron radiation from single electrons measured directly for first time

April 29, 2015 11:26 am | by PNNL | News | Comments

A year before Albert Einstein came up with the special theory of relativity, or E=mc2, physicists predicted the existence of something else: cyclotron radiation. Scientists predicted this radiation to be given off by electrons whirling around in a circle while trapped in a magnetic field. Over the last century, scientists have observed this radiation from large ensembles of electrons but never from individual ones. Until now.

Making robots more human

April 29, 2015 11:17 am | by ACS | News | Comments

Most people are naturally adept at reading facial expressions — from smiling and frowning to brow-furrowing and eye-rolling — to tell what others are feeling. Now scientists have developed ultra-sensitive, wearable sensors that can do the same thing.

The super-particle is called a Bose-Einstein condensate, where the term condensate denotes a group of particles that all behave in the same way. That it should be possible to create such a condensate was first proposed theoretically by Bose and Einstein i

Quantum particles at play: Game theory elucidates the collective behavior of bosons

April 28, 2015 11:16 am | by LMU Munich | News | Comments

Quantum particles behave in strange ways and are often difficult to study experimentally. Using mathematical methods drawn from game theory, LMU physicists have shown how bosons, which like to enter the same state, can form multiple groups.

Heat makes electrons spin in magnetic superconductors

April 28, 2015 10:31 am | by Academy of Finland | News | Comments

Physicists have shown how heat can be used to control the magnetic properties of matter. The finding helps in the development of more efficient mass memories. In the study, the researchers showed how heat is converted into a spin current in magnetic superconductors. Magnetic superconductors can be fabricated by placing a superconducting film on top of a magnetic insulator.

When mediated by superconductivity, light pushes matter million times more

April 28, 2015 10:24 am | by University of Jyväskylä | News | Comments

When a mirror reflects light, it experiences a slight push. This radiation pressure can be increased considerably with the help of a small superconducting island. The finding paves a way for the studies of mechanical oscillations at the level of a single photon, the quantum of light.

Negative electronic compressibility: More is less in novel material

April 27, 2015 2:19 pm | by Boston College | News | Comments

Add water to a half-filled cup and the water level rises. This everyday experience reflects a positive material property of the water-cup system. But what if adding more water lowers the water level by deforming the cup? This would mean a negative compressibility. Now, a quantum version of this phenomenon, called negative electronic compressibility (NEC), has been discovered.

A microplasma is created by focusing intense laser pulses in air. Besides visible light, the microplasma emits electromagnetic pulses at terahertz frequencies that can be used to detect complex molecules, such as explosives and drugs. Courtesy of J. Adam

Generating broadband terahertz radiation from a microplasma in air

April 27, 2015 12:32 pm | by University of Rochester | News | Comments

Researchers have shown that a laser-generated microplasma in air can be used as a source of broadband terahertz radiation. They demonstrate that an approach for generating terahertz waves using intense laser pulses in air—first pioneered in 1993—can be done with much lower power lasers, a major challenge until now.

Device Weighs, Images Individual Molecules

April 27, 2015 10:43 am | by Caltech | News | Comments

Building on their creation of the first-ever mechanical device that can measure the mass of individual molecules, one at a time, a team of scientists have created nanodevices that can also reveal their shape. Such information is crucial when trying to identify large protein molecules or complex assemblies of protein molecules.

Research Reveals Structures of Gold Nanoparticles

April 27, 2015 10:31 am | by Univ. of Nebraska–Lincoln | News | Comments

They may deal in gold, atomic staples and electron volts rather than cement, support beams and kilowatt-hours, but chemists have drafted new nanoscale blueprints for low-energy structures capable of housing pharmaceuticals and oxygen atoms. New research has revealed four atomic arrangements of a gold nanoparticle cluster.

JILA's strontium lattice atomic clock now performs better than ever because scientists literally "take the temperature" of the atoms' environment. Two specialized thermometers, calibrated by NIST researchers and visible in the center of the photo, are ins

Getting better all the time: JILA strontium atomic clock sets new records

April 24, 2015 10:57 am | by NIST | News | Comments

In another advance at the far frontiers of timekeeping by NIST researchers, the latest modification of a record-setting strontium atomic clock has achieved precision and stability levels that now mean the clock would neither gain nor lose one second in some 15 billion years—roughly the age of the universe.

A team of researchers using the Advanced Photon Source, above, a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility at Argonne National Laboratory, demonstrated unparalleled sensitivity for measuring the distribution of trace elements in thicker sp

X-ray ptychography, fluorescence microscopy combo sheds new light on trace elements

April 24, 2015 10:44 am | by Angela Hardin, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists have developed a new approach that combines ptychographic x-ray imaging and fluorescence microscopy to study the important role trace elements play in biological functions on hydrated cells. A team of researchers using the Advanced Photon Source demonstrated unparalleled sensitivity for measuring distribution of trace elements in thicker specimens at cryogenic temperatures, in this case at about 260 degrees below Fahrenheit.

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