June 30, 2009

The First Secretary of Climate Change
from Popular Science
Steven Chu, the new U.S. secretary of energy, is a Nobel-winning physicist and an unabashed advocate of fighting climate change. But can he negotiate the political realities of transforming the energy economy? More

Invisibility Cloak Could Hide Buildings from Quakes
from NewScientist
Borrowing from the physics of invisibility cloaks could make it possible to hide buildings from the devastating effects of earthquakes, say physicists in France and the UK. More

Source of Super Cosmic Rays Pinned Down
from MSNBC
As astronomers have long expected, exploding stars called supernovae can accelerate particles up to almost the speed of light, a new study shows. The discovery helps explain where the extremely energetic cosmic rays we find near Earth come from. More

Disorderly Genius: How Chaos Drives the Brain
from NewScientist
Have you ever experienced that eerie feeling of a thought popping into your head as if from nowhere, with no clue as to why you had that particular idea at that particular time? You may think that such fleeting thoughts, however random they seem, must be the product of predictable and rational processes. More

Scientists Discover Magnetic 'Superatom'
from UPI
U.S. scientists have discovered a "magnetic superatom" that might one day be used to create molecular electronic devices for future computers. Virginia Commonwealth University researchers said the superatom consists of a stable cluster of atoms that can mimic different elements of the periodic table. More

Glass Beads Cluster as They Flow
from ScienceNews
Particles in flowing granular material can cluster like a stream forming droplets as it comes out of a faucet. The clustering is due to attractive forces that create a weak surface tension in grains of glass, scientists report in the June 25 Nature. More

Potential Wind Power is 23 Times Current US Electricity Use
from Ars Technica
A trio of researchers has calculated the sort of yields we might see if the world took advantage of all the wind power available to it. It's a bit of a thought experiment, but the numbers are still impressive: 40 times the current global electric use. More

Researchers Claim First "Real" Quantum Processor
from DailyTech
Quantum computing has the potential to easily crack current cryptography systems, simulate chemical and nanochemical quantum systems, and speed up the search for solutions of certain types of math problems called NP Complete problems. Many have raced to create the world's first quantum processor. More

Reverse-Engineering the Quantum Compass of Birds
from Wired
Scientists are coming ever closer to understanding the cellular navigation tools that guide birds in their unerring, globe-spanning migrations. The latest piece of the puzzle is superoxide, an oxygen molecule that may combine with light-sensitive proteins to form an in-eye compass, allowing birds to see Earth's magnetic field. More