Physics

The function of cardiac implantable electronic devices such as pacemakers can be affected by direct irradiation of the device during radiotherapy. (Courtesy: CC BY-SA 3.0/Lucien Monfils) When a patient with a pacemaker or other type of cardiac implantable electronic device (CIED) requires radiotherapy, the treatment plan is designed to avoid direct irradiation of the device,
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Hot stuff: upward propagating hydrogen flames. The image on the left shows continuous flame front propagation while the image on the right shows fractal-like propagation. (Courtesy: Fernando Veiga-López et al/Phys. Rev. Lett.) Hydrogen flame fronts can spread efficiently in adverse combustion conditions, researchers in Spain and Germany have shown. The team, led by Mario Sánchez-Sanz
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Taken from the May 2020 issue of Physics World, where it appeared under the headline “Serendipity in action”. Members of the Institute of Physics can enjoy the full issue via the Physics World app. Accidental discoveries lie at the heart of many technological innovations. James McKenzie runs through his favourites Serendipitious success Microwave ovens are
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Uncertain times: electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virions, which are the cause of COVID-19. (Courtesy: NIAID-RML/CC BY 2.0) Models of disease spread inform governments on when and how to ease the measures currently in place to contain COVID-19. But physicist Susanna Manrubia, an expert in modelling biological phenomena at the Spanish National Centre for Biotechnology in Madrid,
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Powerful blue lasers are producing the high-quality copper welds needed to make batteries for electric vehicles, as Richard Stevenson reports Power of blue Copper absorbs around 50% of incident light at blue wavelengths, compared to 2–5% of infrared light, making powerful blue lasers a better choice for welding this industrially-important metal. (Courtesy: Laserline) If you
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Cosmonaut Borisenko Andrey Ivanovich with the SPRUT-2 bioimpedance analyser. (Courtesy: Roscosmos) Microgravity is an unhealthy environment for the human body. Long-term exposure causes a decrease in bone density, loss of muscle mass and a shift of body fluids into the top half of the body, which can impact cardiovascular system function. From long stays aboard
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Dark star crashes: the computer simulation of two merging neutron stars (left) blended with an image of heavy-ion collisions at CERN to highlight the connection of astrophysics with nuclear physics. Courtesy: Lukas R Weih and Luciano Rezzolla/Goethe University Frankfurt and CMS/CERN) Gravitational waves from neutron star mergers could provide vital information for testing theories of
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We’ve all wished for weightlessness at some point in our lives—that fantastical quality that powers the magic of flying broomsticks and fuels our fascination with space travel. Although we’re a long way from floating down the street, physicists have developed ways to mitigate the effect of gravity, from carefully aligning sound waves to mimicking free
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[embedded content] “Particle of doubt” is the latest musical offering from David Ibbett, who is guest composer at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory outside Chicago. It is about the neutrinos and is sung in the above video by the soprano Beth Sterling. My favourite line is “You should be changeless. But the change gives us hope
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The electromagnetic spectrum, an assortment of energy wiggling throughout space and time, is overwhelmingly underappreciated in our lives. There is no combination of existence that could happen without it. To celebrate the role that light plays in our lives, our ecosystem, and the operation of the universe, UNESCO declared March 16th as the International Day
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Martin Booth, Patrick Salter and Andrew Rimmer describe how fundamental research on adaptive optics led them to start a company based on creating microscopic marks inside diamonds and other transparent materials Technology transfer Tools that were originally designed to enhance optical microscopy proved key to developing Opsydia’s laser-etching system. (Courtesy: Opsydia) Your company, Opsydia, started
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Light show: Celebrating 60 years of the laser. (Courtesy: iStock/Terraxplorer) In October 1959, Theodore “Ted” Maiman, a relatively unknown 32-year-old physicist, set out to make what was then known as “optical maser” out of a crystal of pink ruby.  The project didn’t have the most auspicious of starts. Maiman’s employers at Hughes Research Laboratory were
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Widely tuneable continuous-wave lasers based on OPO technology make it quicker and easier to characterize the internal energy structure of different qubit contenders Light fantastic: experiments to measure the properties of single-photon emitters frequently require a continuous-wave light source that can easily be tuned across a wide frequency range. (Courtesy: Hübner Photonics) Physicists are still
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UUltrasound is a powerful tool for looking inside the body. The scans see through layers of tissue to reveal pumping hearts, developing fetuses, troublesome blood clots, and injured muscles. They are relatively low-cost, portable, and have few side effects. Patients aren’t exposed to ionizing radiation or confined in a small space. They are, however, slathered
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The graphene-coated mask. Courtesy: G Li Could a graphene coating make surgical masks easier to sterilize and re-use? According to a team of researchers at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), the answer is yes. Led by Guijun Li of PolyU’s industrial and systems engineering department, the team developed a laser manufacturing process that deposits
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Invisible nuclei: acoustically induced transparency allows gamma rays to travel through a sample of otherwise absorbent iron. (Courtesy: iStock/Andrey Prokhorov) Iron nuclei can be made transparent to gamma rays that they would normally absorb using a new technique called “acoustically induced transparency” (AIT).  This feat was achieved by physicists in the US and Russia, who
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Laurence Bradley is a laser scientist at the UK’s Central Laser Facility (CLF). This post is part of a series on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the personal and professional lives of physicists around the world. If you’d like to share your own perspective, please contact us at pwld@ioppublishing.org. Careful alignment: Laurence Bradley at work
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Pionic helium: In this experiment, a pion – shown here with one orange and one blue particle representing its quark and anti-quark – replaces one of the two electrons in the helium atom. This new metastable atom is then excited with laser light (shown here in red) to probe its properties. (Courtesy: Max Planck Institute
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© AuntMinnie.com Using MRI and PET independently, researchers have further established that there is a significant relationship between excessive iron accumulation and tau protein deposits in brain regions linked to Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study published in Brain. Quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM) on MRI and tau-PET imaging showed significantly higher levels of iron and
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Neurons. (Courtesy: iStock/ktsimage) A new technique that efficiently retrieves scattered light from fluorescent sources can be used to record neuronal signals coming from deep within the brain. The technique, developed by physicists at Sorbonne University in Paris, France, uses matrix factorization algorithms to overcome the fact that opaque biological tissues are strong scatterers of visible
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Diamond is a remarkable and useful material because of its rare beauty, hardness and extremely high thermal conductivity. At the microscopic level, the gem has crystal defects that are proving to be extremely useful for creating a range of quantum technologies. In this episode of the Physics World Weekly podcast, Daniel Twitchen of the company
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[embedded content] As an antidote to those glossy, big-budget TV programmes about the wonders of the universe, the cosmologist Peter Coles of Ireland’s Maynooth University is putting out a series of videos that point out that the universe is actually a bit disappointing. In his first video, shown above, he explains why stars really aren’t
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If you’re on the receiving end of a snapping shrimp’s attack, prepare to be stunned. Also known as pistol shrimp, these little crustaceans shoot lethal rounds at predators and prey at highway speeds—a direct hit can be outright fatal or shock the recipient into submission. It’s not just the force of the attack that’s stunning
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“Spin cooling”. Courtesy: G Hétet, ENS The force from the spin of defects known as nitrogen vacancy (NV) centres can be used to cool down a macroscopic diamond particle. This “spin cooling” method, which has been demonstrated for the first time by a team of researchers from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in France, is conceptually
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Next big thing: Haifei Zhan and colleagues reckon that carbon nanothreads have a future in energy storage. (Courtesy: Queensland University of Technology) Computational and theoretical studies of diamond-like carbon nanothreads suggest that they could provide an alternative to batteries by storing energy in a strained mechanical system. The team behind the research says that nanothread
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Cool result: The laser cooling setup. (Courtesy: Benjamin Augenbraun) Physicists at Harvard University and Arizona State University in the US have succeeded in laser-cooling YbOH molecules – a crucial first step towards using these molecules to make precision measurements of the electron’s electric dipole moment (eEDM). Their work was augmented by a related effort, carried out by researchers
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Join us for a live webinar on 14 May 2020 exploring quality assurance for adaptive planning Want to take part in this webinar? Iridium Kankernetwerk is a busy oncology department that provides about 5600 radiation-therapy treatments per year across four locations in Belgium. The department was looking to optimize its quality-assurance programme through standardization and
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Fundamental constants: a minimum value of viscosity has been calculated by Kostya Trachenko and Vadim Brazhkin (Courtesy: iStock/3quarks). Viscosity is an everyday phenomenon recognizable in the difference between slow-pouring liquids like honey and runny substances like water. Yet the complex molecular interactions that create viscosity make it very hard to calculate theoretically. Now, a pair
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Energy efficient: Google’s Sycamore quantum processor. (Courtesy: Erik Lucero/Google) Researchers in the US have created a new energy-based benchmark for quantum advantage and have used it to show that noisy intermediate-scale quantum (NISQ) computers use several orders of magnitude less energy than the world’s most powerful supercomputer when doing a specific task. As quantum computers
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Relative calm: the Sun as seen by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. (Courtesy: NASA/SDO) The Sun appears to be far less active than other similar stars, an international team of astronomers has discovered. Timo Reinhold at Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research  and colleagues made the unexpected discovery after studying long-term data gathered by the
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In this episode of the Physics World Weekly podcast we chat about how a serendipitous collaboration involving the co-founder of the Shady Oak Butterfly Farm in Florida and an evolutionary biologist in California has shed light on how structural colour evolves in the buckeye butterfly. We also report back from an online event in which
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