A cloaking device from off-the-shelf superconductors and magnetic tape

Matthew Francis This artist’s depiction shows how to make a magnetic cloaking device. Ferromagnetic materials attract magnetic fields (left), while superconductors expel magnetic fields (middle). Combining the two in a particular way cancels out the individual effects, l The dream of turning solid objects invisible is an ancient one. In recent years a number of … Continue reading

Fields Apart

By Sam Kean “Shut up and calculate!” As physics became more mathematical and abstract during the past century, that phrase—first uttered by physicist David Mermin—became its mantra. Indeed, the more that physicists stopped worrying about what their complicated equations meant and simply ran the numbers, the more progress they made. Some of their predictions have now … Continue reading

What Makes Tires Grip the Road On a Rainy Day?

A team of scientists from Italy and Germany has recently developed a model to predict the friction occurring when a rough surface in wet conditions (such as a road on a rainy day) is in sliding contact with a rubber material (such as a car tire tread block) in an article to be published shortly … Continue reading

Faster-than-Light Neutrino Puzzle Claimed Solved by Special Relativity

The relativistic motion of clocks on board GPS satellites exactly accounts for the superluminal effect, says physicist. kfc 30 Comments It’s now been three weeks since the extraordinary news that neutrinos travelling between France and Italy had been clocked moving faster than light. The experiment, known as OPERA, found that the particles produced at CERN … Continue reading

New pursuit of Schrödinger’s cat

Quantum theory is reliable but fraught with paradox. Philip Ball asks if scientists will now find an object existing in two places at once Philip Ball Quantum mechanics is more than a hundred years old, but we still don’t understand it. In recent years, however, physicists have found a fresh enthusiasm for exploring the questions … Continue reading

A physicist flirts with philosophy

James Lloyd  Søren Kierkegaard Five years ago, I wouldn’t touch philosophy with a barge pole. I was nearing the end of my physics degree, and this had provided me with an adequate enough explanation of the workings of the cosmos. Philosophy, in my view, was obsolete – important to the Ancient Greeks, but of about … Continue reading

Physicists Create Magnetic Invisibility Cloak

By Kate McAlpine, ScienceNOW The sneaky science of “cloaking” just keeps getting richer. Physicists and engineers had already demonstrated rudimentary invisibility cloaks that can hide objects from light, sound, and water waves. Now, they’ve devised an “antimagnet” cloak that can shield an object from a constant magnetic field without disturbing that field. If realized, such … Continue reading

More details on the "faster than the speed of light" neutrinos

John Timmer Last night, in response to a worldwide surge in interest, the OPERA experiment released a paper that describes the experiments that appear to show neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light. And today, CERN broadcast a live seminar in which one of the work’s authors described the content of the paper. Both … Continue reading

Physicists who measured particles traveling faster than speed of light don’t dare dream

Associated Press, GENEVA — Physicists on the team that measured particles traveling faster than light said Friday they were as surprised as their skeptics about the results, which appear to violate the laws of nature as we know them. Hundreds of scientists packed an auditorium at one of the world’s foremost laboratories on the Swiss-French … Continue reading

‘White’ light suppresses the body’s production of melatonin

Exposure to the light of white LED bulbs, it turns out, suppresses melatonin 5 times more than exposure to the light of High Pressure Sodium bulbs that give off an orange-yellow light. "Just as there are regulations and standards for ‘classic’ pollutants, there should also be regulations and rules for the pollution stemming from artificial … Continue reading

New partnership looks to industrialize spider silk production

Bob Yirka   (PhysOrg.com) — For thousands of years, human beings have looked with envy upon the silk webs spun by spiders; not only are they stronger than steel but they are tougher too (a vest made of spider web material can stop bullets better than Kevlar) and can be stretched farther than rubber before … Continue reading

Graphene nanoribbons grow due to domino-like effect

Lisa Zyga   Computer simulations show that graphene nanoribbons can grow from anthracene polymer on a gold surface in a way that resembles the domino effect. Image credit: Jonas Björk, creator. ©2011 American Chemical Society (PhysOrg.com) — While many labs are trying to efficiently synthesize large two-dimensional sheets of graphene, a team of researchers from … Continue reading

Separating a photon from the flock

Chris Lee Measurements are funny things sometimes. It is, on the whole, pretty easy to detect light. It is even pretty easy to detect single photons. But a single photon has very little energy in it, so a single photon detector can’t easily distinguish between one photon or two photons. Instead, the experimenter needs to … Continue reading

Did Einstein discover E = mc2?

Philip Ball Who got there first? Who discovered that E = mc2? It’s not as easy a question as you might think. Scientists ranging from James Clerk Maxwell and Max von Laue to a string of now-obscure early 20th-century physicists have been proposed as the true discovers of the mass–energy equivalence now popularly credited to … Continue reading

How to Grow Nanoflowers

The uncanny similarity between metallic nanoflowers and the real things suggests similar growth laws, say physicists kfc 09/01/2011 One way to grow nanowires is to start by spreading a thin layer of plastic on a conducting substrate, such as copper. The plastic must have vertical pores in its structure stretching from the copper substrate to … Continue reading

Quick and Cheap Data Storage?

New Multiferroic Material Is Both Electrically Charged and Magnetic HZB scientists observe how a material at room temperature exhibits a unique property — a „multiferroic" material with potential uses for cheap and quick data storage. Researchers at Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) in close collaboration with colleagues in France and UK, have engineered a material that exhibits … Continue reading

Hang on, we didn’t know how molecules conduct electricity?

Chris Lee Sometimes the intersection of physics, engineering, and "we want the shiny" can be a bit weird. In the drive to smaller and more efficient electronic devices, some are trying to shrink existing approaches, while others are heading straight to the ultimate end point: using molecules to do everything. The basic idea is that … Continue reading

How an argument with Hawking suggested the Universe is a hologram

John Timmer The proponents of string theory seem to think they can provide a more elegant description of the Universe by adding additional dimensions. But some other theoreticians think they’ve found a way to view the Universe as having one less dimension. The work sprung out of a long argument with Stephen Hawking about the … Continue reading

College upperclassmen still fail at scientific reasoning

John Timmer Most of us develop a sort of intuitive logic about how the natural world works. Unfortunately, a lot of that informal reasoning turns out to be wrong, which complicates scientific education. But as students make their way through the science education pipeline, they should gradually start moving beyond the informal reasoning of their … Continue reading

Creating Faster Electronics Using Graphene

The Nobel Prize winning scientists Professor Andre Geim and Professor Kostya Novoselov have taken a major step forward towards creating electronics using the wonder material graphene. Writing in the journal Nature Physics, the academics, who discovered the world’s thinnest material at The University of Manchester in 2004, have revealed more about its electronic properties. Research … Continue reading

Early Talking Doll Recording Discovered

On May 11, 2011, scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California recovered sound from an artifact that historians believe is the earliest surviving talking doll record. The artifact is a ring-shaped cylinder phonograph record made of solid metal, preserved by the National Park Service at Thomas Edison National Historical Park. Phonograph inventor … Continue reading

Soft-Drink Cans Focus Sound Waves to a Point, Beating Diffraction Limit

To focus sound to a point, all you need is a thirst for fizzy drinks. Jon Cartwright of Nature magazine Sound, like light, can be tricky to manipulate on small scales. Try to focus it to a point much smaller than one wavelength and the waves bend uncontrollably–a phenomenon known as the diffraction limit. But … Continue reading

Pipe Flow Turbulence

Kyle Niemeyer Turbulence is one of the great mysteries of modern science. It is also one of the most important, as most of the flows we’re interested in are turbulent. In some applications, such as industrial reactors, turbulence is desirable due to its mixing properties; in many others, we want to avoid turbulence due to … Continue reading

Universe Almost Certainly Not a Hologram

By Duncan Geere, Wired UK An astrophysicist’s attempt to measure quantum “fuzziness” — to find out if we’re living in a hologram — has been headed off at the pass by results suggesting that we’re probably not. In October 2010, Wired.com reported on Craig Hogan’s experiments with two of the world’s most precise clocks, which … Continue reading

The Cutting-Edge Physics of Jackson Pollock

Lisa Grossman Jackson Pollock, famous for his deceptively random-seeming drip paintings, took advantage of certain features of fluid dynamics years before physicists thought to study them. “His particular painting technique essentially lets physics be a player in the creative process,” said physicist Andrzej Herczynski of Boston College, coauthor of a new paper in Physics Today … Continue reading

How Much Ice Do You Need For Your Drinks?

Rhett Allain Let me start with some assumptions. Suppose you get n drinks and these start at room temperature. Let me say room temperature is 22 °C (about 72 °F). You start with ice and drinks. The ice is just at 0 °C. The cans are filled with water. I am actually surprised that canned … Continue reading

Neutrino transformation could help explain mystery of matter

Dave Mosher A technician works on equipment that feeds a particle beam into the MINOS neutrino oscillation experiment. Two research teams have found new evidence of transformations in elusive elementary particles called neutrinos. The findings may finally help explain why the universe didn’t vanish shortly after its birth. “These results are just the beginning of … Continue reading

If I ruled the world

Rolf-Dieter Heuer Governments must spend more on pure scientific research, says the director-general of Cern. That would protect the world from recession Rolf-Dieter Heuer with one of the 1,232 dipole magnets used in the Large Hadron Collider International law should oblige governments to invest in basic science, through hard times as well as good. Applied … Continue reading

Static electricity?

John Timmer For many of us, static electricity is one of the earliest encounters we have with electromagnetism, and it’s a staple of high school physics. Typically, it’s explained as a product of electrons transferred in one direction between unlike substances, like glass and wool, or a balloon and a cotton T-shirt (depending on whether … Continue reading

Physicists Apply Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity to Superconducting Circuits

In recent years, UC Santa Barbara scientists showed that they could reproduce a basic superconductor using Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Now, using the same theory, they have demonstrated that the Josephson junction could be reproduced. The results are explained in a recent issue of the journal Physical Review Letters. The Josephson junction, a device … Continue reading

Clean, cheap hydrogen production from water using cobalt catalyst

Kyle Niemeyer For years, proponents of the hydrogen economy have argued that hydrogen will replace traditional hydrocarbon fuels for transportation purposes. But, so far, a lack of new, inexpensive methods for hydrogen production and storage has impeded this goal. Over the last several years, an MIT professor has been pushing cobalt catalysts as a cheap … Continue reading

Reducing the signal-to-noise ratio to get a lock on quantum signals

Chris Lee There is an art to making good measurements. In the ideal case, you want a really sensitive measuring device so that you can measure the smallest of changes to the signal you are interested in. But what you find is that most of the sensitivity is wasted, because in addition to signal, there … Continue reading

Spaser on a wire: tiniest lasers

Chris Lee The laser is a very special light source: the spatial, temporal, and frequency aspects of laser light can be exquisitely controlled. This control has enabled much of modern life, and it has had a major impact on research itself. But even the smallest laser is rather large. And many of the things we … Continue reading

Heaviest elements yet join periodic table

David Shiga Elements 114 and 116 have been officially added to the periodic table, becoming its heaviest members yet. They both exist for less than a second before decaying into lighter atoms, but they bring researchers a step closer to making even heavier elements that are predicted to be stable for decades or longer, forming … Continue reading

Moving Mirrors Make Light from Nothing

Researchers claim to have produced sought-after quantum effect. By Geoff Brumfiel of Nature magazine A team of physicists is claiming to have coaxed sparks from the vacuum of empty space. If verified, the finding would be one of the most unusual experimental proofs of quantum mechanics in recent years and "a significant milestone", says John … Continue reading

Quantum Knowledge Cools Computers

From a laptop warming a knee to a supercomputer heating a room, the idea that computers generate heat is familiar to everyone. But theoretical physicists have discovered something astonishing: not only do computational processes sometimes generate no heat, under certain conditions they can even have a cooling effect. Behind this finding are fundamental considerations relating … Continue reading

"We Are Crossing the Boundary Between Knowledge and Belief"

Experimental Physics and The Limits Of Human Knowledge Rolf-Dieter Heuer Rolf-Dieter Heuer is the director of the European Organization for Nuclear Research and oversees the vast CERN laboratories in Switzerland. He sat down with Martin Eiermann to talk about the search for the Higgs Boson, the limits of human knowledge and the distinction between science … Continue reading

New Nanolens Breaks Resolution Record

Lisa Grossman A new kind of lens reaches an unprecedentedly sharp focus by giving up on being perfect. The lens is the first ever to help take visual light images of structures smaller than 100 nanometers, which could make it useful for nanotechnology and probing the insides of cells. Ordinary lenses, like those used in … Continue reading

Faster Transistors

In the 1980s and ’90s, competition in the computer industry was all about "clock speed" — how many megahertz, and ultimately gigahertz, a chip could boast. But clock speeds stalled out almost 10 years ago: Chips that run faster also run hotter, and with existing technology, there seems to be no way to increase clock … Continue reading

Super Energy Storage

Activated Graphene Makes Superior Supercapacitors for Energy Storage Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory have helped to uncover the nanoscale structure of a novel form of carbon, contributing to an explanation of why this new material acts like a super-absorbent sponge when it comes to soaking up electric charge. The material, … Continue reading

Clocks With Unprecedented Accuracy

A team of physicists from the United States and Russia announced that it has developed a means for computing, with unprecedented accuracy, a tiny, temperature-dependent source of error in atomic clocks. Although small, the correction could represent a big step towards atomic timekeepers’ longstanding goal of a clock with a precision equivalent to one second … Continue reading

Floating Gyroscopes Vindicate Einstein

By Lisa Grossman Four superconducting ping-pong balls floating in space have just confirmed two key predictions of Einstein’s general relativity, physicists announced in a press conference May 4. “We have completed this landmark experiment testing Einstein’s universe, and Einstein survives,” said physicist Francis Everitt of Stanford University, the principal investigator on NASA’s Gravity Probe B … Continue reading

Bubbles exhibit weird sandy behaviour

A SQUIRT of bubbles can act like a liquid or a solid depending on its density – a feat thought unique to grainy materials such as sand. Pour sand, seeds or powder down a chute and they can flow like a liquid. But if the grains are packed so that they fill 64 per cent … Continue reading

Replacing Batteries May Become a Thing of the Past, Thanks to ‘Soft Generators’

Battery technology hasn’t kept pace with advancements in portable electronics, but the race is on to fix this. One revolutionary concept being pursued by a team of researchers in New Zealand involves creating "wearable energy harvesters" capable of converting movement from humans or found in nature into battery power. A class of variable capacitor generators … Continue reading

‘God particle’ may be discovered soon

RONAN McGREEVY THE LARGE Hadron Collider at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (Cern) in Switzerland is working so well that it may discover a mysterious particle years ahead of schedule, one of its lead scientists has said. Belfast-born Dr Steve Myers, director of accelerators and technology at Cern, gave a lecture last night in … Continue reading

25 years on, the search for higher-temp superconductors continues

By John Timmer Christian Benke Twenty-five years ago this week, the physics community got a bit of a shock. A paper in Condensed matter cautiously proclaimed that its authors, based at IBM’s Zurich Research Lab had detected "Possible high Tc superconductivity in the Ba-La-Cu-O System." The abstract (which happens to contain a typo) reported a … Continue reading

New Spin on Graphene Makes It Magnetic

A team led by Professor Andre Geim, a recipient of the 2010 Nobel Prize for graphene, can now show that electric current — a flow of electrons — can magnetise graphene. The results, reported in Science, could be a potentially huge breakthrough in the field of spintronics. Spintronics is a group of emerging technologies that … Continue reading

New tech shows Einstein wrong: we can watch Brownian motion

By Christopher Dombrowski 2D random walk Christopher Dombrowski The seemingly random movement of Brownian motion just got a little more classical. Scientists have been able to image the ultrafast motions of a trapped particle, revealing the underlining trajectories causing Brownian motion. This is the first time inertial Brownian motion of a particle in a fluid … Continue reading

Plasmons Create Beautiful Full-Color Holograms

By Lisa Grossman By harnessing the power of tiny waves dancing in an electron sea, Japanese physicists have developed a novel way to project holograms that don’t change color when you move your head. “In a conventional hologram, if you change the angle, the color changes,” said optical physicist Satoshi Kawata of Osaka University in … Continue reading

Is gravity not actually a force?

Forcing theory to meet experiments By Matt Ford How are controversial ideas handled by modern science? A common charge leveled against science (generally by those who are unhappy with its conclusions) is that the only way to get funding or continue your research is by going along with the current theories and not rocking the … Continue reading