Physics

GHGSat‐D observations of methane plumes at various sites in the Korpezhe oil/gas field of western Turkmenistan. (Courtesy: Geophysical Research Letters https://doi.org/10.1029/2019GL083798) The satellite was supposed to be looking for mud volcanoes. Instead, it found an ongoing environmental hazard. That, in essence, is the story Adina Gillespie told attendees at the Appleton Space Conference, which was
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The 2019 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony was held in September at Harvard University, where the world’s top thinkers gathered to celebrate the year’s strangest scientific advances. The competition was fierce. The particles in the air were ionized by the sheer dynamicity of it.  Science, at times, can be a little stuffy. Scientists, on the other
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FluoroTome 1 is a portable apparatus that performs on-site tomographic scanning of radio-fluorogenic gels within minutes of radiation exposure. (Courtesy: CC BY 4.0/J M Warman et al Polymers 10.3390/polym11111729) The ability to create 3D images of radio-fluorogenic (RFG) gels following radiation exposure could enable visualization of the dose deposited during a radiation treatment. To achieve
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Smart wound dressing: Ruchi Gupta holds a model of her optical biosensor. (Courtesy: Hamish Johnston) On Friday I was at the Institute of Physics (IOP) in London for an event called “Showcasing Physical Sciences Impact”, which was organized by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI)  and
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With the Physics World 2019 Breakthrough of the Year due to be announced on 12 December, Physics World journalists look back at the past decade of winners and explore how research in that field has moved on. Here, Tami Freeman examines the 2013 breakthrough, awarded to the IceCube South Pole Neutrino Observatory for “making the
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[embedded content] Miguel Wattson is an electric eel (Electrophorus electricus) who lives in the Rivers of the World gallery at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, US. The eel is best known for his tweeting ability under the Twitter handle @EelectricMiguel (although aquarium staff write his messages, which are triggered by the electrical pulses that Miguel emits while
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Without context, you might think a “superwalker” is an extra-fast power walker, topnotch zombie, or even a high-tech mobility device. But this is a physics blog, so that’s your first clue that we’re headed in a different direction. The superwalkers in this story don’t even have legs—they are small drops of liquid with surprising capabilities
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The researchers (from left): Xiaoguang Zhao, Xin Zhang and Stephan Anderson. (Courtesy: Jackie Ricciardi, BU Photography) MRI is a mainstay of clinics around the world. It is an imaging technique that provides unparalleled anatomical and pathological information while also avoiding exposure to ionizing radiation. MR does have some limitations, however. MR signal arises from a
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Large video displays are a possible application of the new cadmium-free quantum dot LEDs. (Courtesy: iStock/metamorworks) Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) containing semiconducting nanocrystals called quantum dots are ideal for applications such as large-panel displays and solar cells thanks to their high efficiency and colour purity. To date, the chief drawback of these quantum-dot LEDs has been
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With the Physics World 2019 Breakthrough of the Year due to be announced on 12 December, Physics World journalists look back at the past decade of winners and explore how research in that field has moved on. Here Matin Durrani reflects on the 2011 breakthrough for “weak measurement” Strength in weakness: physicists in 2011 gained
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With the Physics World 2019 Breakthrough of the Year due to be announced on 12 December, Physics World journalists look back at the past decade of winners and explore how research in that field has moved on. Here Margaret Harris reflects on the 2010 breakthrough for “new ways of controlling antiatoms of hydrogen” Shared glory at CERN as antihydrogen research takes
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A new type of lightweight, inexpensive hyperspectral camera. CREDIT: Maiken Mikkelsen & Jon Stewart, Duke University Researchers at Duke University in the US have developed a cheap and easy-to-construct thermal camera that can capture a multispectral image half a million times faster than existing broad-spectrum detectors. The new camera owes its speed to advanced plasmonic
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Mark Prausnitz holds an experimental microneedle contraceptive skin patch. Designed to be self-administered by women for long-acting contraception, the patch could provide a new family planning option. (Courtesy: Christopher Moore, Georgia Tech) In an effort to increase access to long-acting contraception, a US-based research team has developed a microneedle patch that slowly releases contraceptive hormone
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Entangled ions: new scheme could lead to practical quantum computers. (Courtesy: iStock/Traffic-Analyzer) A technique for remotely entangling ions of strontium much more accurately and at far higher rates than previously possible has been unveiled by physicists in the UK. The team says that their scheme paves the way to scalable quantum computers made from multiple ion traps that are linked to one another
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Sixth force: has a new particle called X17 been discovered? (Courtesy: iStock/duncan1890) If you have been scratching your head about curious reports of the discovery of a fifth (or possibly sixth) force and a mysterious particle called X17, check out Matt Strassler’s recent blog “Has a new force of nature been discovered?”.    “I thought I’d better throw some cold water
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(Courtesy: iStock/Anterovium) Thousands of scientists will be gathering in Boston, US, next week for the Fall Meeting of the Materials Research Society. With freezing temperatures on the horizon, There will be plenty of time to size up the latest equipment for materials characterization and analysis. Here are a few of the highlights. Integrated Hall solution
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On target: profile of the electron beam at the Advanced Light Source. (Courtesy: Berkeley Lab) Machine learning has been used by scientists in the US to reduce unwanted fluctuations in photon beams from a synchrotron light source. The technique does this by stabilizing the synchrotron’s electron beam and offers a way around an important barrier
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The QUANTM Irradiation System can generate 68Ga at record breaking levels. (Courtesy: ARTMS Products) Gallium-68 (68Ga) is a positron emitter that’s becoming established as a valuable diagnostic isotope, primarily for detection of neuroendocrine tumours (NETs). Such tumours do not metabolize glucose well – precluding their visualization via standard FDG-PET scans – but overexpress somatostatin receptors
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Full marks: how can you tell a quantum computer is giving the correct answers? (Courtesy: Shutterstock/jijomathaidesigners) A new and very efficient protocol for assessing the correctness of quantum computations has been created by Samuele Ferracin, Animesh Datta and colleagues at the UK’s University of Warwick. The team is now collaborating with experimental physicists to evaluate
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Even though it’s been a warm couple of months already, it’s officially summer. A delicious, science-filled way to beat the heat? Making homemade ice cream. (We wrote this article a few years ago, but since then we’ve learned a LOT about ice cream, so we’re re-releasing this article, with expanded ice cream science and a
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Experimental setup showing the system components and highlighting the path followed by the quantum cascade laser light (red) and terahertz radiation (blue). (Courtesy: Arman Amirzhan, Harvard SEAS) Researchers have created a new terahertz radiation emitter with highly-sought-after frequency adjustment capability. The compact source could enable the development of futuristic communications, security, biomedical and astronomical imaging
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The super-photon team. Courtesy (c) Photo: Volker Lannert/Uni Bonn Researchers at the universities of Bonn and Cologne in Germany have developed a new way of splitting photon wavepackets that involves cooling them down to a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) in a double-ridge microresonator structure. This thermodynamic method differs from the usual optical beam-splitting techniques because it
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“What’s it like to see something that no one has seen before?” I asked Tatiana Latychevskaia, a physicist at the University of Zurich. “You’re always puzzled, trying to look for something similar,” she says. She explains that you talk to colleagues, search the literature, and think back to conference presentations… Usually, you don’t know in
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Poignant and bleak, the critically acclaimed HBO series Chernobyl revisits a difficult chapter in history to tell an important story about the role of science in society. While portions of the plot and characters have been embellished for TV, its an exceptional portrayal of what can happen when a community ignores the signs of an
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Platinum (left) and glassy carbon (right) microelectrodes for deep brain stimulation. (Courtesy: SDSU) Deep brain stimulation (DBS) – in which electrodes implanted in the brain send electrical signals to areas that control movement – is increasingly employed to treat symptoms of movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor or dystonia. It is also used
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This week’s episode focuses on the interface between physics and computing, with deep dives into how artificial intelligence (AI) is contributing to medical physics and how silicon could form the basis of a future quantum computer. First, we hear from Tami Freeman, Physics World’s resident expert on medical physics, about a new positron emission tomography (PET)
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Gold standard: artist’s impression of the disc-shaped photonic switches integrated within an optical circuit. (Courtesy: C. Haffner/NIST) A highly compact, low-energy device capable of switching the paths taken by light within photonic systems has been unveiled by physicists in the US and Switzerland. The new switch could provide a basis for artificial-intelligence (AI) systems that
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Tricky technique: the new glass was made using pulsed laser deposition. (Courtesy: Jonne Renvall and Erkka Frankberg) Flexible glass that does not shatter on impact could soon be made using insights from a study of a glass-like material made from aluminium oxide. Erkka Frankberg at Tampere University in Finland and colleagues have come to this
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