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  Mobile version   RSS   Subscribe   Unsubscribe   Archive   Media Kit Nov. 17, 2012
Volume: III
Number: 42

National Society of Black Physicists    African Physical Society   South African Institute of Physics   African Astronomical Society  


How Earth's wandering poles return home
Physics World    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
"True polar wander" is the relative movement between the mantle (and so the surface of the Earth) and the Earth's spin axis or its rotational axis. Researchers believe that over the past 1 billion years, the Earth's surface has "tipped over" and then returned to its original location six times along the same axis — a process called "oscillatory true polar wander." A team of geophysicists from the U.S. and Canada has reported in Nature their new theory that explains this curious phenomenon. Scientists know that thermal convection from the Earth's mantle to the surface causes mechanical deformations in the Earth's crust. The new work shows how the mechanical deformations couple with the rotational motion of the planet itself and subsequently leads to "self-righting" dynamics when the rotational axis and mass distribution shift over time. More

Advance in multimode optical fibers leads to significant advance in medical endoscopy
American Physical Society    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
In medical endoscopy, light is sent down a thin optical fiber that is inserted inside the body, and a series of optical elements relay an image to the end of the endoscope where a medical practitioner can interpret it. Thinness of the fiber is desirable from a patient comfort perspective, and also from the perspective of getting an image from a minimally perturbed state. But thin fibers lead to speckle, that is, the linear, deterministic mixing of propagated modes that distorts an image. In Physical Review Letters, a research team in Korea has proposed a way to work through the speckle though a technique called phase conjugation. Through this technique it is possible to unscramble a distorted image though characterization of the transmission matrix, which relates the distorted image back to the original optical field, i.e. how an object appears to how it actually looks. This technique has been used in radar and acoustic applications for decades. But now they are increasingly finding their way into the arsenal of techniques for biomedical applications. More

Scientist combine the power of Hubble, Spitzer and gravitational lensing to find most distant galaxy
NASA    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
By combining the power of NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, and by exploiting gravitational lensing, astronomers have set a new record for finding the most distant galaxy seen in the universe. Light from the newly discovered galaxy, named MACS0647-JD, has taken 13.3 billion years to reach Earth. The researchers believe that they are observing the galaxy as it was 420 million years after the big bang, i.e., when the universe was 3 percent of its present age of 13.7 billion years. Because of its small size, astronomers can reasonably assert that this new galaxy is very young and has dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of merging events with other galaxies and galaxy fragments in its future. It is less than 600 light-years wide. Astronomers estimate that a typical galaxy of a similar age should be about 2,000 light-years wide. For comparison, the Large Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy companion to the Milky Way, is 14,000 light-years wide. Our Milky Way is 150,000 light-years across. Without the magnification powers of the massive galaxy cluster MACS J0647+7015, this observation would not have even been possible. The Cluster Lensing And Supernova Survey with Hubble group uses massive galaxy clusters as magnification lenses to find Type Ia supernovae, distant galaxies, and distributions on normal and dark matter in them. The paper describing this discovery is posted on arXiv and will appear in the Astrophysical Journal. More

Increase your options for graduate or REU program admissions
NSBP    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The NSBP GradApps and REUApps services are open to all students and allows them to upload all the elements of an admissions application, including academic and work history, transcripts, letters of recommendation and a personal statement. Graduate and REU programs can subscribe to these databases to increase the programs' applicant pool, while at the same time allowing students can put their credentials in front of more programs than to which they would otherwise apply. More

New result from LHC constrains physical effects of supersymmetry
CERN Bulletin    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Earlier this week, physicists from the LHCb collaboration presented evidence of a very rare Bs0 → μ+ μ- decay, the rate of which can be predicted very precisely in the Standard Model. Deviations from the expected values could be the signal of the existence of new particles, for example those from supersymmetry. But after analyzing data gather over the last two years they have found the decay rate to be 3.2+1.5-1.2) x 10-9, which is in very good agreement with the rate predicted via the Standard Model. This result, described in a paper posted on arXiv, does not rule out SUSY, but even at 3.5 σ it constrains what the physical effects of SUSY are on this particular decay channel. Bloggers are chattering about the result. Peter Woit puts SUSY in intensive care, whereas Gordon Kane argues that the measurements are still compatible with some types of SUSY. Meanwhile, Matt Strassler can always be relied upon to take a more measured approach. Jim Gates, one of the progenitors of SUSY, has long maintained that the actual experimental discovery of SUSY might take an incredibly long time as it could be hidden in some way by nature. More

Novel engineered enzyme converts carbon dioxide to methane
Ars Technica    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A simple modification of an enzyme that reduces N2 gas to NH3 gas has led to an enzyme that reduces CO2 to methane, a reaction that takes the transfer of eight electrons. The enzyme also combined two molecules, carbon dioxide and acetylene, to form propylene, a three-carbon ingredient in many plastics. This new enzyme is ripe for detailed biophysical studies, and may have many-fold environmental and industrial applications. The report of this work appears in the Proceedings in the National Academy of Sciences. More

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Planets without stars might hint to common mechanism of planet formation
Ars Technica    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Could reports of planets with no apparent star to orbit really be examples of common instances of massive gravitational collapses of gas clouds without fusion? A recent observation points to that possibility. Stars form when gas clouds condense in their gravitational fields igniting sustained fusion reactions. Brown dwarfs are stars where the collapse is not powerful enough to sustain fusion reactions. One rough distinguishing characterization of planet formation, as opposed to star formation, is the gravitational collapse of clouds of gas plus dust without the ignition of fusion reactions. Recent observations of the object CFBDSIRJ214947.2-040308.9, reported in Astronomy & Astrophysics, has led astronomers to conclude that it formed through this mechanism, rather than from a planetary disk, which typically is associated with a star. CFBDSIRJ214947.2-040308.9 does not have a nearby star, and that allowed researchers to get detailed information about its atmosphere, and to determine that its mass is too small to have ever supported fusion. This then suggests that there are many other planetary objects out there waiting to be discovered. More

Binary stars may explain the misalignment of planetary orbits
Ars Technica    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The most widely accepted theories of planet formation, i.e., that they form from a flat protoplanetary disk that was once contiguous with the material that formed the rapidly spinning new star, have trouble explaining systems where the planets have orbits that are in the opposite direction of their star's rotation. A new model reported in Nature suggests that these misaligned systems are form in two-star systems. Gravity from the companion star, especially when the two are not aligned, would force planets closer to one of the stars, and protoplanetary disk itself would tilt drastically in accordance with the total gravitation and spin of the two stars. In some cases, the disk could have flipped entirely over. Binary star systems normally do not persist as one star leaves the system. The only indication of its former presence is a so-called hot Jupiter orbiting in the opposite direction to the remaining star's rotation. More

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
Designed as a unique and much-needed resource for educators, managers and policymakers, the Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering publishes original, peer-reviewed papers that report innovative ideas and programs for classroom teachers, scientific studies and formulation of concepts related to the education, recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups in science and engineering.

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The 'pseudogap phase' in cuprates coexists and competes with the superconducting phase
SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Using angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy, a research team at SLAC and Stanford University has shown that the nonsuperconducting "pseudogap phase" in cuprates coexists and competes with the superconducting phase over a wide range of temperatures and compositions — a most surprising result. The pseudogap is one of the biggest mysteries in high-temperature superconductivity. The complex electronic structure of cuprate superconductors has made it very difficult for scientists to determine their phase diagrams and exactly how they become superconducting, let alone how to modify them to make their critical superconducting transition temperatures above room temperature. But this experiment has yielded important new aspects of the phase diagram that had been hidden. This work has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. More

365 Days of Astronomy Podcast
365 Days of Astronomy Podcast publishes daily podcasts, five to 10 minutes in duration. They are written, recorded and produced by people around the world. We are looking for individuals, schools, companies and clubs to provide five to 10 podcasts. You can do as few as one episode or up to 12 episodes (one per month, subject, of course, to our editorial discretion). Our goal is to encourage people to sign up for a particular day (or days) of the year. For more information, see the 365 Days of Astronomy website.

A Cooper pair sighted in a single molecule
University of Wisconsin Synchrotron Research Center    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
In work published in Physical Review Letters, researchers at the University of Wisconsin's Synchrotron Research Center outline their discovery that electrons can form Cooper pairs in some aromatic molecules as small as benzene. The benzene ring allows the electrons, when the molecule absorbs a photon with a certain amount of energy, to flow around in a ring-shaped orbital where they can form a 2-electron pseudo particle just like a Cooper pair. Aromaticity does not seem to be the enabling factor as the phenomena also exists in larger benzenelike molecule, like naphthalene and anthracene, but not so much for pyrrole, a heterocyclic aromatic compound with 5-atom ring. Cooper pairs have been found in graphene, so this new result provides a reductionist model for studying Cooper pair formation and maybe even superconductivity at the single molecule level. More

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4th-graders figure out how voting is different from counting
University of California, Irvine — By: Dr. Don Saari    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Scientists have long used elections as a laboratory for elaborate analyses of making choices. One of the masters in the field is Dr. Donald Saari, a mathematician at the University of California, Irvine. During a classroom visit 21 years ago, Saari witnessed firsthand how with innocence coupled with awakened curiosity and insight freed from years of blind acceptance standard election procedures, even fourth-graders can cut through the conceptual difficulties to achieve a critical understanding of the subtle difference between voting and counting. This brings us to the coming end-of year Waves and Packets poll that will ask the standard question of what has been the year's most significant discovery in physics and astronomy. Probably most people will say the Higgs, but that will not be very interesting considering the breadth of discovery in our field. So, we will implement a scheme that flattens the effect of the very much deserved attention on the Higgs. In the meantime, consider two points raised by Saari's story: How do we foster creativity and inventiveness in our students and colleagues, and how much fun it can be to visit a K-12 classroom. More

National Society of Black Physicists jobs board postings
NSBP    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Tenure-track Position Applied Physics - Cornell University
Assistant Professor - University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Faculty Position in Computational Science — Virginia Tech College of Science
Faculty Positions in Interdisciplinary Science/Science Education Research
Faculty Positions in Science, Technology, and Innovation
Postdoctoral Research Position in Stellar Astrophysics at the Space Telescope Science Institute
Tenure-track Assistant Professor of Physics — Duquesne University
Tenure-Track Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy — Valparaiso University
Chair, Department of Physics
National Radio Astronomy Observatory Research Experience for Undergraduates
LIGO Livingston Operations Manager
Tenure Track Assistant Professor in Evolution
Tenure Track Position in Experimental Quantum/Nano-Optics at the University of New Mexico
Astronomy Faculty Position at University of Arizona
Associate Professor in Geometry and Topology in Physics at the University of Chicago
Member-Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards
Post Doctoral (12-0164)
Renewable Energy REU at Colorado School of Mines
Lecturer (Physics), U.S. Coast Guard Academy

Latest research from Physica E: Low-dimensional Systems and Nanostructures
Elsevier    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Structural, optical and magnetic properties of Cu and V co-doped ZnO nanoparticles

Developing ultrasensitive pressure sensor based on graphene nanoribbon: Molecular dynamics simulation

Vibration analysis of circular and square single-layered graphene sheets: An accurate spring mass model

Coupling effects in a photonic crystal microcavity with embedded semiconductor quantum dot

Light scattering calculations from Au and Au/SiO2 core/shell nanoparticles

Latest research from Semiconductor Science and Technology
IOP Publishing    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The electronic structure of clean and adsorbate-covered Bi2Se3: an angle-resolved photoemission study

Thermoelectric transport in topological insulators

Terahertz magneto-optical spectroscopy in HgTe thin films

Probing the band topology of mercury telluride through weak localization and antilocalization

Introduction to topological superconductivity and Majorana fermions

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