Physics

Join the audience for a live webinar at 6 p.m. BST/1 p.m. EST on 12 August 2020 on the discovery of a novel battery electrolyte that was guided by machine-learning software without human intervention Want to take part in this webinar? Innovations in batteries take years to formulate and commercialize, requiring extensive experimentation during the design
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Left to right: first author Mohamed Ghanem, colleague Brian MacConaghy and co-author Adam Maxwell. (Courtesy: Center for Industrial and Medical Ultrasound/APL/University of Washington) Acoustic tweezers that allow the remote manipulation of internal objects from outside the body could one day be used to expel urinary stones or control ingestible cameras. Researchers at the University of
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Incoming: did a wayward star switch-off the X-ray corona of a distant supermassive black hole? (Courtesy: NASA/JPL-Caltech) Over the course of just one year, the bright X-ray corona surrounding a supermassive black hole dipped dramatically in brightness, before steadily recovering its initial luminosity. The event was observed by an international team of astronomers, led by
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Empty space: fewer commercial flights mean poorer weather forecasts. (Courtesy: Shutterstock/Volodymyr-Goinyk) The grounding of commercial air flights during the COVID-19 pandemic has made weather forecasts less reliable. As well as affecting short-term forecasts, the reduction in aircraft weather observations has impacted longer-term forecasts and could handicap early warnings of extreme weather, warns Ying Chen, an
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Screenshot showing the web-based tool for calculating foetal dose. (Courtesy: N Saltybaeva et al www.fetaldose.org) The number of CT examinations in pregnant patients has grown constantly during the past decades. But human embryos and foetuses are sensitive to ionizing radiation doses greater than 0.1 Gy. The potential health risks make it important to estimate radiation
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Mars bound: NASA’s Perseverance rover will explore the Martian geology and climate and look for signs of past microbial life. (Courtesy: NASA/Joel Kowsky) The summer of Mars launches continued yesterday as NASA successfully sent its Mars 2020 on a seven-month journey to the red planet. Taking off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at
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Old school: a game of go played without quantum effects. (Courtesy: Goban1) A quantum-mechanical version of the ancient board game go has been demonstrated experimentally by physicists in China. Using entangled photons, the researchers placed go pieces (called stones) in quantum superpositions to vastly increase the complexity of the game. They foresee the technology serving
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How long does a particle take to quantum-mechanically tunnel through a barrier? Physicists have pondered this question since tunnelling was first identified 90 years ago. In this episode of the Physics World Weekly podcast, Aephraim Steinberg of the University of Toronto explains how his team used the spins of ultracold atoms to measure how long
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Photographs and sketches of observed experimental particle release events. The microbubbles are covered with 0.5 μm polystyrene particles and held in an acoustic trap. (Courtesy: Diego Baresch, Institut de Mécanique et d’Ingénierie de Bordeaux (CNRS/Université de Bordeaux/Arts et Métiers Paristech/Bordeaux INP)) Researchers at Imperial College London, UK have demonstrated for the first time that microscopic bubbles
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Taken from the July 2020 issue of Physics World. Members of the Institute of Physics can enjoy the full issue via the Physics World app. Medical physicist and entrepreneur Maryellen Giger talks to Margaret Harris about how she established the use of AI in breast cancer imaging Picture of health Maryellen Giger’s career has focused
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By: Hannah Pell “The American Physical Society (APS) has a vision of the future of physics publishing, in 2020 or so.” So begins a 1993 Science article titled “Publication by Electronic Mail Takes Physics by Storm.” Burton Richter, then-president of APS and former head of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), elaborated: “Any physicist, any
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Growth of ZrTe5 nanostructures. (Courtesy: Chin. Phys. B) A supportive “mattress” of material has made it possible to grow nanoribbons of a previously hard-to-synthesize topological insulator. The technique, which is based on conventional chemical vapour transport, produces crystalline nanostructures of zirconium pentatelluride (ZrTe5) with a high carrier mobility, and could be used to produce ultrathin
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Oesophageal radiotherapy calls for a fine balancing act between dose to the heart and dose to the lungs. (Courtesy: iStock/leonello) As treatments for oesophageal cancer improve, patients are living longer, especially those with early-stage localized disease. But longer survival puts oesophageal cancer patients at greater risk of developing serious radiation-induced late toxicities of the heart
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For the first time, 3D human tissue has been assembled in the microgravity of space. Through a magnetic levitation device, researchers in Russia, led by Vladislav Parfenov at the Russian Academy of Sciences and 3D Bioprinting Solutions, enabled a cosmonaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to fabricate human cartilage from a few isolated cells.
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The first quantum phase battery. (Courtesy: Andrea Iorio) Researchers in Spain and Italy have constructed the first-ever quantum phase battery – a device that maintains a phase difference between two points in a superconducting circuit. The battery, which consists of an indium arsenide (InAs) nanowire in contact with aluminium (Al) superconducting leads, could be used
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The big picture: scientists have spotted large-scale resonant waves travelling in both directions around the globe. (Courtesy: NASA) The Earth’s entire atmosphere vibrates like a giant bell, with various large-scale resonant waves travelling in both directions around the globe. That is the conclusion of scientists in Japan and the US, who have confirmed a nearly
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Light of the moon: a dinoflagellate seen under a microscope. Its crescent shape is bounded by a cell wall. The central orange regions are cell nuclei and bioluminescence originates in vesicles surrounding these nuclei when the cell walls are deformed. (Courtesy: Maziyar Jalaal, Nico Schramma, Antoine Dode, Hélène de Maleprade, Christophe Raufaste and Raymond E.
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Microfluidics maestro: Cellular Highways chief executive Samson Rogers poses with a prototype of the company’s first commercial sell-sorting instrument. (Courtesy: Cellular Highways) Companies that use physics to unlock next-generation drugs for respiratory disorders and enable advanced cancer treatments are the first recipients of a new award for early-stage companies in healthcare and medicine. Nebu~Flow, a
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Taken from the July 2020 issue of Physics World. Members of the Institute of Physics can enjoy the full issue via the Physics World app. David Reitze, executive director of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, talks to Richard Blaustein about how gravitational-wave observations are set for a multi-detector boost Making waves David Reitze says that
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Heating up: artistic representation of how light is squeezed at room temperature. (Courtesy: Christine Daniloff/MIT) An optomechanical device that adjusts – or “squeezes” – the uncertainties in the quantum properties of laser light has been developed by Nancy Aggarwal at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and colleagues. The team created their source of squeezed light
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The Case for Fahrenheit vs Celsius in terms of human comfort.  By Allison Kubo Hutchison Scientists have to know how to speak the languages of many units. Improper unit conversions have caused much heartache and suffering in the past, including the loss of a $125 million dollar Mars orbiter. In general, peer-reviewed science journals only
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Mediator atoms in graphene. Courtesy: C Ewels Graphene and other carbon materials are known to change their structure and even self-heal defects, but the processes involved in these atomic rearrangements often have high energy barriers and so shouldn’t occur under normal conditions. An international team of researchers in Korea, the UK, Japan, the US and
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The different lamellae that make up the bone samples studied and their nanostructural orientation. Courtesy: C Charnay A new X-ray technique has revealed hitherto unknown structures in human bone. The technique, which uses a synchrotron beam to map the 3D orientation of nanocrystals and nanostructures within a material, advances our understanding of bone structure and
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Hair cleansers: a felted dog fur mat (left) and loose human hair deployed on a porous surface. (Courtesy: Megan Murray, Soeren Poulsen and Brad Murray/Environments) Have you ever thought about how much human hair is cut and thrown away every day around the world, and wondered if something useful could be done with this renewable
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Nature in all its glorious diversity has come up with some very clever solutions to difficult problems. In this episode of the Physics World Weekly podcast the science writer Michael Allen talks about a longhorn beetle from southeast Asia, whose ability to survive sizzling temperatures has inspired the creation of a highly reflective material that
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The CellGPS workflow: nanoparticles are used to concentrate 68Ga and then loaded into cells; isolated single cells are administered into mice; emitted gamma rays are captured using a small-animal PET scanner and processed to estimate the location of the moving cell in real time. (Courtesy: Nat. Biomed. Eng. 10.1038/s41551-020-0570-5) The ability to accurately track the
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Magnesium-rich: an atomic-resolution scanning transmission electron microscopy image of an enamel crystallite looking down the long axis of the crystal. The dark areas show magnesium ions forming two layers on either side of the core. (Courtesy: Northwestern University) The fundamental building blocks of human tooth enamel contain characteristic impurities that could contribute to their toughness,
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