APS Weekly NewsBrief
Jan. 18, 2011

A spark of genius
The Economist
Albert Einstein never learned to drive. He thought it too complicated and in any case he preferred walking. What he did not know -- indeed, what no one knew until now -- is that most cars would not work without the intervention of one of his most famous discoveries, the special theory of relativity. Read the associated Physical Review Focus article.

A twisted way to take pictures
Powerful lab microscopes may soon get a screwy upgrade. By twisting a stream of electrons into a tornado-like vortex, physicists have created a new type of beam to take snapshots of atoms, biological tissue and tiny computer parts.More

Heat engine may be world's smallest
Physicists in the Netherlands have built a heat engine that might be the tiniest ever created. Based on "piezoresistive" silicon, and smaller than a typical biological cell, the engine could find applications in watch mechanisms or as a mechanical sensor.More

Recalling a fallen star's legacy in high-energy particle physics
The New York Times
Physicists reflect on the premature closing of the Tevatron particle collider, which was one of the leading physics research facilities in the world for decades.More

Caltech geeks out, invoking Feynman's spirit
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Richard Feynman's futuristic vision was legendary. In a recent gathering on the Caltech campus where Feynman taught, hundreds came together to ponder the physicist's predictions and extend them another half century in an event called "Feynman's Vision: The Next 50 Years."More

Step forward in finding Alzheimer's cure
Focus Taiwan
Taiwan's top research institute Academia Sinica announced new scientific findings at a press conference that could help develop cures for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Read the associated Physical Review Letters article.More

Ethereal quantum state stored in solid crystal
Quantum entanglement has been captured in solid crystals, showing that it is more robust than once assumed. These entanglement traps could make quantum computing and communication more practical.More

What's in a thunderstorm? Antimatter, for one
The Los Angeles Times
To the great surprise of physicists and meteorologists alike, NASA's orbiting Fermi gamma-ray observatory has discovered that thunderstorms are emitting powerful bursts of antimatter into space.

We must learn to love uncertainty and failure, say leading thinkers
The Guardian
Being comfortable with uncertainty, knowing the limits of what science can tell us, and understanding the worth of failure are all valuable tools that would improve people's lives, according to some of the world's leading thinkers.More