Waves & Packets
Mar. 24, 2012

National Ignition Facility fires record-setting 2-megajoule laser
Popular Science
The National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Lab combined 192 lasers to fire a single 1.875-megajoule shot into a test chamber, and by the time it passed through its final focusing lens the shot had reached 2.03 megajoules, setting a new record for ultraviolet lasers. The power of the shot is indeed impressive, but also impressive is that the NIF team was able to fire the laser again just 36 hours later. Researchers eventually want this kind of laser to be able to fire off high-powered shots at 15 per second. Research at the NIF is a path to sustainable energy production by inertial fusion reaction. This latest result is a critical milestone for laser fusion. But the laser fusion research, at least for the purposes of energy production, faces an uncertain future and budgetary competition with an alternative fusion energy approach, magnetic confinement, which is being pursued in the multinational International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project.More

Charge hopping in glassy magnets
American Physical Society
Magnetodielectric materials, which have a dielectric constant that is modulated by an applied magnetic field, provide rich insight into the physics of spin-charge coupling. Magnetodieletric coupling is often mediated by lattice dynamics, typically leading to only very small shifts in the dielectric constant. Examples of strong coupling, i.e., large shifts are known, but only in very narrow temperature ranges and near-phase transitions. In a paper appearing in Physical Review Letters a team of researchers from India and Sweden propose a design for materials with strong magnetodielectric coupling based on tuning the spin-dependent electron hopping in site-disordered crystals. Their experimental and theoretical investigation on the magnetic and electrical properties of partially disordered La2NiMnO6 has produced the unexpected result that the spatial arrangement of the transition metal ions leads to large magnetodielectric coupling over a broad temperature range. More

Square Kilometer Array site recommendation given — Final decision not likely in April
The board of directors of the organization endeavoring to build the world's largest radio telescope, the Square Kilometer Array, met in Manchester, England, to consider the recommendation by an advisory committee on where to build the telescope. There are two locations under consideration, one in Africa led by South Africa, the other in Australia and New Zealand. The committee's report is still confidential, but confirmed leaks of its content indicate that the committee found the African bid to be superior. Separately, the European Union Parliament has passed a written declaration to support European-African research partnerships in radio astronomy. The SKA Africa Project Office announced a calibration milestone with the KAT-7 telescope, a precursor to the MeerKAT telescope and possibly to the SKA. Also, Canada has rejoined the SKA Organization, with representation by colleagues from the University of Calgary.More

Measuring the universe using motion of galaxy clusters
Ars Technica
Galaxy clusters are the largest objects in the universe that are held together by their own gravity. They are so big that the expansion rate and distribution of matter within the universe affects their formation and evolution. As a result, their numbers, sizes and motion record the history of the cosmos on its largest scales. One of the places galaxy clusters leave their imprint is on the universe's cosmic microwave background. As the CMB's photons scatter off hot gas in a cluster, its relative motion adds a very slight shift to the photon's wavelength, an effect known as the kinematic Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect. The kSZ effect has now been observed for the first time, as described in a paper recently posted to arXiv.More

Runaway planets zoom at a fraction of light-speed
Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Seven years ago, astronomers were boggled when they found the first runaway star flying out of our galaxy at a speed of 1.5 million mph. The discovery intrigued theorists, who wondered: If a star can get tossed outward at such an extreme velocity, could the same thing happen to planets? New research, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, shows that hypervelocity planets do indeed exist, and they are produced when a double-star system wanders too close to the supermassive black hole at the galactic center. Strong gravitational forces rip the stars from each other, sending one away at high speed while the other is captured into orbit around the black hole.More

Quantum optics may remove the uncertainty about quantum gravity
Ars Technica
One of the main challenges in physics today is to merge quantum theory and the theory of general relativity into a unified framework. Currently, there's no complete, reliable quantum theory of gravity, though there are many candidates, including superstring theory. But a major hindrance is the lack of experimental evidence of quantum gravitational effects. The fundamental length scale is beyond forseeable experiments. However, a related quantity known as the Planck mass may provide another way to check for quantum gravity in the laboratory. A recent Nature Physics paper proposes that it should be possible to use ensembles of particles with a total mass reaching the Planck mass. In this way, modern experimental techniques in quantum optics can be used to test potential modifications of the famous Heisenberg uncertainty principle that arise due to quantum gravity.More

NASA MESSENGER mission sends home mysteries of Mercury
Discovery News
The MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft is designed to fill in many of the gaps in our knowledge of the smallest planet in our solar system. Two new Science papers from the MESSENGER team respectively highlight the surface and internal structure of Mercury, from detailed observations of the Northern Hemisphere. Mercury's massive iron core is even more massive than previously thought, accounting for 85 percent of the planet. Gravity maps and computer models show that the core sports an extra solid layer of iron-sulfide. Convection is probably behind the mysterious rising of Mercury's surface, which in some areas is now tilted. More

Laser writer makes graphene supercapacitors on DVDs
Reported in Science, a U.S. team has employed a routine laser-writing technique to create sheets of graphene on the surface of an ordinary DVD. The graphene sheets can then be joined together to make electrochemical capacitors (or supercapacitors) that are able to store as much energy as a conventional battery but that can be charged 100–1000 times faster. Applications include roll-up computer displays, wearable electronics that harvest and store energy produced by body movement, electronic wallpaper and energy-storage systems that can be combined with flexible photovoltaic cells.More

Physicists create magnetic invisibility cloak
Physics World
Physicists and engineers have already demonstrated rudimentary invisibility cloaks that can hide objects from light, sound and water waves. Now, an "antimagnet" cloak has been devised that can conceal an object in a constant magnetic field. Cloaking an object is different from shielding it. To cloak an object you have to do more than bend the field around the object, you have to totally remove any field distortion caused by the object. A team of European researchers have reported via Science that they have made such a device. It is made of layers of a superconductor that repel external magnetic fields, along with ferromagnetic layers that have a field attracting effect. The specific design specifications for the layered material follow quite naturally from new solutions to Maxwell's equations. Because the cloak is capable of running under relatively strong magnetic fields and relatively warm liquid-nitrogen temperatures, and as it is made from commercially available materials, it could be readily put to practical use.More

North Iowa physics program saves itself
The Bachelor of Science degree in physics at University of Northern Iowa had been slated for closure by the University of Northern Iowa, while the Bachelor of Art degree had been spared. But right before the regents met to approve the changes, the university's provost swapped the recommendation, closing the BA degree while keeping the BS degree. The UNI case is far from isolated, and more of these cutting proposals will come in the future. The UNI physics community mobilized and met with some success. But other programs around the country would be well advised to be proactive against similar moves to eliminate programs. More

Scientists and engineers to converge on Capitol Hill in April
Science-Engineering-Technology Working Group
The Science-Engineering-Technology Working Group's Congressional Visit Day is a two-day annual event that brings scientists, engineers, researchers, educators and technology executives to Washington to raise visibility and support for science, engineering and technology. The 2012 event will be April 24-25. Funding issues are paramount, and the FY-13 appropriations process is hopefully moving apace even in this election year. This process is always tricky, and the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science budget request was recently met with skepticism in Congress. In addition to budgetary themes, policy matters concerning STEM education, science diplomacy, open access and the merit review process are also being actively considered in Congress. It is very important that members of Congress get firsthand feedback from scientists on the impact of government policy on scientific work.More

National Society of Black Physicists jobs board postings
Duncan Instructor
Introductory Course Instructor and Manager
Summer Intern
IAU Office of Astronomy for Development: Internship Opportunity
Postdoctoral Associate
Entrepreneurship for Scientists and Engineers in East Africa
Director, South African Astronomical Observatory
Student Essay Contest — New Frontiers in Astronomy and Cosmology
International Research Grant Competition — New Frontiers in Astronomy and Cosmology
Assistant Editor, Physical Review Letters
Assistant Professor of Physics — University of Wisconsin, River Falls
Marshall REU in Scientific Computing
Research in Sustainable Energy for sub-Saharan Africa
Notre Dame Physics REU Program
University of Northern Iowa REU in Hyperspectral Imaging
REU Program at Nevis Labs, Columbia University
William & Mary (NASA Langley, Jefferson Lab) Physics Department REU
Undergraduate Research in Computational Astrophysics
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey RiSE (Research in Science and Engineering) Summer Program
Research internships in computational astrophysics
Tenure Track (Open Rank) Faculty Position - Stony Brook Center for Science and Mathematics Education
Physics Research Experiences for Undergraduates More

Latest research from New Journal of Physics
IOP Journal
On thermalization of magnetic nano-arrays at fabrication

A nanostructural investigation of glassy gelatin oligomers: Molecular organization and interactions with low molecular weight diluents

Beyond pure state entanglement for atomic ensembles

Magnetic and electric coupling effects of dielectric metamaterial

Experimental simulation and limitations of quantum walks with trapped ionsMore

Latest research from AIP Advances — Special Topic: Physics of Cancer
AIP Advances — Special Topic: Physics of Cancer
Physical aspects of biological activity and cancer

Physics of cancer propagation: A game theory perspective

A theory of the cancer age-specific incidence data based on extreme value distributions

Host-guest interaction in cancer and a reason for the poor efficiency of the immune system in its detection and termination

Integrated intravital microscopy and mathematical modeling to optimize nanotherapeutics delivery to tumorsMore