Waves & Packets
Feb. 18, 2012

Hypothetical particle solves lithium problem
For more than a decade, scientists have been aware that the theory used to explain how the lightest elements are created overestimates the overall amount of lithium-7 in the universe. Now, physicists in the U.S. think the answer to this so-called lithium problem might lie in a hypothetical particle known as the axion. In a Physical Review Letters paper, Pierre Sikivie and colleagues at the University of Florida are proposing that after the Big Bang axions formed a Bose–Einstein condensate and that photons passing through it ultimately led to an increase in the baryon photon ratio, and a false impression of the amount of lithium that should have been created. But this theory has challenges; including requiring six different flavors of neutrinos, where currently only three have been observed. Results from the Planck satellite at least will get at the number of neutrino types, which will support or undermine this new theory.More

At DOE, body blows to fusion, nuclear physics and particle physics
Science Insider
Overall, the budget numbers for the Department of Energy's Office of Science, the largest funder of physical sciences research in the United States, look reasonably good. The office would see its budget climb by 2.4 percent to $4.992 billion. Programs thought to be supporting "clean energy" are administration priorities. The U.S. contribution to ITER would increase at the expense of other projects in DOE's fusion program. RHIC would only run for 10 weeks, half the time it did in 2011. The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams would see its 2012 budget cut by more than half. More

Optical fibers with integrated semiconductor junctions developed
An international team of researchers has integrated a semiconductor junction into an optical fiber for the first time. The device is described in Nature Photonics. It works at gigahertz frequencies and is the first step in creating an all-fiber optical-communications network where light is generated, modulated and detected within a fiber itself without the need for integration with electronic chips. Its range of applications could run from improved telecommunication systems and laser technology to more accurate remote-sensing devices. More

LHC to increase collision rate and energy
Ars Technica
LHC has announced its running schedule for 2012, which includes increases in energy and collisions. Each beam will be running at 4TeV in 2012, which adds a total of 1TeV to the collision energies. At the same time, the number of collisions will be increased by increasing the proton density in each bunch, and not by reducing the space between bunches — at least not in 2012. The data target for 2012 is 15 inverse femtobarns for ATLAS and CMS, three times higher than in 2011. After the 2012 run, the LHC is scheduled for an extended shutdown for systemic upgrades. More

Synchrotron science on the move in South Africa
Excitement is growing within South Africa's synchrotron light source user community. Synchrotron use amongst South Africa-based researchers has grown markedly in the past few years, including the well-reported studies of the possible human ancestor, Australopithecus sediba. Recently, scientists and policy officials convened a two-day workshop in Pretoria, South Africa, to finalize plans for the drafting of a strategic plan document to be submitted to the government's Department of Science and Technology, which is broadly responsible for science and technology in the country, and the National Research Foundation, which is responsible for the distribution of research funding similar to what the National Science Foundation does in the United States.More

Are mammals ferroelectric?
American Physical Society
A team of bioengineers have reported in Physical Review Letters their finding of ferroelectricity mammalian tissue samples. Using a piezoresponse force microscope (PFM)—a scanning probe microscope that analyzes the electrical signals generated from the response when the PFM tip is pressed to a surface, thus generating an image of the surface, the researchers were able to clearly identify signs of electric polarization in the sample. The result begs a number of the physiological or evolutionary purpose of bioferroelectricity, and what medical uses it may have in diagnostics and treatment. More

The shape of a ponytail and the statistical physics of hair fiber bundles
Daily Glow
Research published by Physical Review Letters provides the first quantitative understanding of the distribution of hairs in a ponytail. To derive the Ponytail Shape Equation, the scientists took account of the stiffness of the hairs, the effects of gravity and the presence of the random curliness or waviness that is ubiquitous in human hair. Together with a new quantity described in the article — the Rapunzel Number — the equation can, they say, be used to predict the shape of any ponytail. This work will be presented Feb. 28 at the March APS in Boston.More

A neutron star that's a fast particle accelerator may lie at the heart of the Crab Nebula
Ars Technica
The Crab pulsar is one of the brightest sources of gamma rays observable from Earth, but despite years of study, astrophysicists still do not fully understand the Crab's precise gamma ray spectrum. Close to the pulsar, most of the energy in the pulsar wind is in the form of electromagnetic energy from the pulsar itself. Further out, the energy is mostly in the form of the kinetic energy of the fast-moving plasma particles. How this transition occurs is not completely clear. A potentially promising new model, proposed in paper appearing in Nature, proposes that near the pulsar particles are accelerated outwards by strong electromagnetic fields. As the particles are accelerating outwards, they are also changing their angular momentum. Eventually a point in the particles' trajectory is reached that favors a spike in gamma ray emission. This spike happening in a narrow spatial zone away from the pulsar satisfactorily fits some of the gamma ray spectrum data from the Crab Nebula.More

Fast photon path and polarization control bring quantum photonic technologies closer
One of the challenges for these quantum photonics circuits is to manipulate single-photon and multiphoton states at a fast rate. A team of physicists from England and the Netherlands have reported in Physical Review Letters their use lithium niobate waveguides to demonstrate that applying a voltage to electrodes near the waveguide can rapidly manipulate quantum states of light made of one or two photons. The ability to rapidly control the polarization and path of single photons on a single platform will be useful for both fundamental quantum science and quantum technologies. More

Radar signals evidence of Mars ocean
Scientific American
A series of radar soundings by the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding instrument has identified what appear to be sedimentary deposits in the Martian north. The sediments, which could be mixed with ice, would represent the remains of a shallow ocean that existed some three billion years ago, according to a study published in Geophysical Research Letters. MARSIS is onboard the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter, which has orbited the Red Planet since 2003. The sedimentary interpretation of the formation agrees with data obtained by another sounding radar on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which surveyed the region a few years ago.More

Italian seismologists on trial for being wrong on earthquake prediction
In 2009, an earthquake devastated the Italian city of L'Aquila and killed more than 300 people. Now, scientists are on trial for manslaughter. All those indicted took part in a meeting held in L'Aquila on March 30, 2009, during which they were asked to assess the risk of a major earthquake in view of the many shocks that had hit the city in the previous months. Their rendered opinion gave reassurances that there was no danger of a major earthquake, which led to, as a matter of public policy and personal risk-taking, people not evacuating the city. The earthquake struck six days later. So the prediction model upon which the assessment relied has been called into question, as well as officials' interpretation of the model, with the latter facing criminal charges. More

National Society of Black Physicists jobs board postings
Marshall REU in Scientific Computing‎
PostDoc Space Telescope Science Institute
Professor and Director of Science and Technology
REU Program for Community College Students at Texas A&M — Commerce
Research in Sustainable Energy for sub-Saharan Africa
Yale University Center for Research on Interface Structure and Phenomena Postdoctoral Fellow
Iowa State University REU National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals
Iowa State University REU Biogeosciences Research Experiences for Undergraduates
Iowa State University REU Wind Energy Science, Engineering, and Policy
Iowa State University REU Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship
Notre Dame Physics REU Program
Iowa State University REU Microscale Sensing Actuation and Imaging
Jack E. Crow Postdoctoral Fellowship at National High Magnetic Field Laboratory
Iowa State University REU Interdisciplinary Research and Education Emerging Interface Technologies
Wiess Instructorship in Physics and Astronomy
University of Northern Iowa REU in Hyperspectral Imaging
REU Opportunities in Astronomy at the University of Wyoming
REU Program at Nevis Labs, Columbia University
2012 REU Program in Computational Sensing and Medical Robotics

Advice for graduate students
Inside Higher Education
Steven Stearns offers some insight and advice for graduate students. Know thyself and know thy advisor. More

More advice for graduate students
Inside Higher Education
So much comes down to good writing skills. Steven Stearns offers some tips on how to write well and write strategically. More

Overcoming the imposter syndrome
At one time or another nearly every graduate student and new faculty member wonders about his or her competence. This is a common fear often referred to as the impostor syndrome. The impostor syndrome runs rampant in academia — and women are especially prone to it. How do you get over the impostor syndrome? Easier said than done. More

Ready. Set. Go. Transitioning from college to graduate school
Compared to your undergraduate education, graduate school is faster paced. Professors expect a lot of work to be done, and there's a lot less hand-holding. MoreMore

Latest research from Journal of Physics G: Nuclear and Particle Physics
IOP Journal
Equation of state in the PNJL model with the entanglement interaction

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Breit equation with form factors in the hydrogen atom

Confined gluon from Minkowski space continuation of the PT-BFM SDE solution

Efimov effect in a 3-body system with attractive r-2 2-body interactions

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