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  Mobile version   RSS   Subscribe   Unsubscribe   Archive   Media Kit Jan. 14, 2013
Volume: IV
Number: 1

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


Astronomers discover the largest structure in the universe
Royal Astronomical Society    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
An international team of astronomers has found a large quasar group that is 4 billion light-years across. It is heretofore the largest known structure in the universe. Quasars are the nuclei of galaxies from the early days of the universe that undergo 10-100 million year periods of extremely high brightness that make them visible across great distances. Quasars tend to group together in clumps or 'structures' of surprisingly large sizes, forming large quasar groups or LQGs. This LQG is so large that it challenges the Cosmological Principle: the assumption that the universe, when viewed at a sufficiently large scale, looks the same no matter where you are observing it from. The finding is described in detail in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. More

Giant outflows from Milky Way center caused by millions of star births
Radboud University Nijegen    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Measurements made using the 64 meter Parkes radio telescope in Australia and published in Nature show that huge flows of charged particles travelling at 1,000 kilometers per second are spewing from the center of our galaxy. The outflow from the galactic center carries off not just gas and high-energy electrons, but also strong magnetic fields. The outflows also correspond to the enormous 'Fermi bubbles' of gamma radiation detected by the NASA Fermi space telescope in 2010. These new observations indicate that the bubbles are the result of the formation of millions of stars close to the center of the Milky Way, and they help explain how the Milky Way generates and maintains its magnetic field. More

Magnetic forces without magnets
Ruhr-Universitat Bochum    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Before the formation of the first stars, the luminous matter consisted only of a fully ionized gas of protons, electrons, helium nuclei and lithium nuclei which were produced during the Big Bang. Density, and pressure, as well as electric and magnetic fields fluctuated around certain mean values. Because of this fluctuation at certain points in the plasma, weak magnetic fields formed. How strong these fields are in a fully ionized plasma of protons and electrons, specifically for the gas densities and temperatures that occurred in the plasmas of the early universe, has been calculated and reported in Physical Review Letters. The results indicate that weak magnetic fields, which are on the order of 1012 Tesla, fluctuate depending on position but on not time. Stellar winds and supernova explosions introduced mechanical forces that compressed and aligned the magnetic fields, which intern began to influence those events. The next step in this research is to examine how the weak magnetic fields affect temperature fluctuations in the cosmic background radiation. More

Proton's muon-capture rate accurately measured, backs QCD prediction
Physics World    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The rate at which protons capture muons has been accurately measured for the first time by the MuCap collaboration. Muon capture can be thought of as beta decay in reverse. It results in the formation of a neutron and a neutrino. The MuCap collaboration measures the rate of the muon capture process by stopping a beam of muons in a low-density gas of pure hydrogen, has analyzed 30 terabytes of data to extract a dimensionless factor that influences the rate of muon capture with unprecedented precision. The value of their result, reported in Physical Review Letters, is 8.06 ± 0.55 in excellent agreement with predictions based on chiral perturbation theory, an approximation of quantum chromodynamics applicable at low particle energies. More

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Nanotubes enhance photoacoustic mapping
Medical Physics Web    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Ionizing imaging modalities, often working in tandem with a contrast agent, are required to visualize optically transparent organs such as the bladder and lymph nodes. As a result, research is ongoing to find alternative methods that rely on non-ionizing radiation. Photoacoustic imaging is of profound interest in medicine because it uses non-ionizing radiation, and has the potential to be portable. But the method still needs contrast agents. Writing in Physics in Medicine and Biology, researchers from Korea and the US present one such approach that uses single-walled carbon nanotubes surface-doped with indocyanine green dye molecules. The animal studies demonstrated the proof of concept, but the next step is to determine the human toxicity of the carbon nanotubes. More

Elsevier Labs Virtual Seminar
Individual and Scholarly Networks: A two-part seminar on Building Networks and Evaluating Network Relationships

Tuesday, Jan. 22

Part 1: Building Networks 8 a.m. - 10 p.m. EST / 13:00-15:00 GMT
Part 2: Evaluating Network Relationships 10:30 a.m. -12:30 EST / 15:30 - 17:30 GMT

The event is free of charge, but registration is required. More information available here.

Elastic and conformational softness of globular proteins
American Physical Society    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Proteins rely on changes in molecular conformation as well as wholesale changes in shape in order function properly. Large conformational changes can be brought about by the cumulative effects of many smaller elastic changes. By combining neutron and light scattering experiments with molecular dynamics simulations, a team working at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, University of Tennessee and NIST has shown how measurements of protein flexibility can be used to distinguish elastic vibrations from true conformational alterations. Elastic and conformational changes should depend differently on temperature and hydration, but previous studies of protein flexibility have typically not separated the two contributions. The team first measured protein flexibility using incoherent neutron scattering. They compared that data to those from molecular dynamics simulations and light scattering experiments. They realized that the elastic fluctuations of individual atoms could be inferred from vibrational excitations of the full molecule, and by separating out the elastic part, the researchers showed that high protein flexibility at room temperature is due primarily to a higher rate of conformational changes. This research is reported in Physical Review Letters. More

Can the Fokker-Plank equation explain wealth inequalities?
Waves and Packets    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Two researchers at the Institute of Experimental Physics in Poland have applied statistical physics to study incomes of three-class (low-, medium- and high-income) economies. In work to appear in Physica A, they used nonlinear Langevin dynamics and its threshold Fokker-Planck counterpart to derive a unified formula for description of income of all society classes. The result was a more general formula that matched well the European Union's data on income for years 2006 and 2008. Their results also indicate how the number of households belonging to a given income society class most likely changed but the income structure of the society as a whole was not altered. Due to a step increase in the drift term of the Langevin equation, economic activity of the high income class is a said to be more risky than that of other income classes. More

Clock made from a single atom could lead to a precise mass measurement
Ars Technica    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Unlike other fundamental measures like length, the fundamental reference for the kilogram is based on an actual platinum-iridium cylinder in a vault in Paris, along with a number of supposedly identical replicas distributed around the world. The problem is that accumulation of surface-layers on the objects changes them over time, rendering them ineffective as a standard reference. A team of physicists has devised a new atomic clock by trapping a cesium atom in a Ramsey-Bordé interferometer. The device enables the measurement of the atom's Compton frequency. The precise frequency measurement using an optical frequency comb can then be used to determine the mass of the atom. This work, reported in Science, is an important proof of concept and contribution to the Avogadro Project. More

Quantum gas goes below absolute zero
Nature News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
It may sound less likely than hell freezing over, but physicists have created an atomic gas of potassium atoms with a sub-absolute-zero temperature for the first time. Using lasers and magnetic fields, they kept the individual atoms in a lattice arrangement. At positive temperatures, the atoms repel, making the configuration stable. The team then quickly adjusted the magnetic fields, causing the atoms to attract rather than repel each other. But the team also adjusted the trapping laser field to make it more energetically favorable for the atoms to stick in their positions. This result, described in Science, marks the gas's transition from just above absolute zero to a few billionths of a Kelvin below absolute zero. Their technique opens the door to generating negative-Kelvin materials and new quantum devices. The phenomena revealed in this work could also be of interest to cosmologists as an atomic analogue to expansion of the universes despite gravity. More

Nearby dwarf galaxy and possible protogalaxy discovered
Case Western Reserve University    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A team of astronomers have reported in the Astrophysical Journal their discovery of a faint dwarf galaxy and another possible young dwarf caught before it has had a chance to form any stars. The researchers also found more evidence pointing to two already known dwarf galaxies as probable forces that pulled the pinwheel-shaped disk galaxy known as M101 out of shape. Most galaxies reside in such small-group environments, which means the factors shaping M101 are likely the same shaping most galaxies throughout the universe, the researchers say. Perhaps most surprisingly, the researchers discovered two new clouds of hydrogen gas in the M101 group, more distant and distinct from M101's own supply of gas. A follow-up analysis of images from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey showed a faint patch of starlight associated with one of the glass clouds, confirming its status as a true dwarf galaxy with a population of both gas and stars. But the same analysis found no stars inside the other, indicating that it could be a proto dwarf-galaxy, i.e., the density of gas inside the cloud is too low for gravity to squeeze the gas down and form stars. More

Breakthrough iron-based superconductors set new performance records
Brookhaven National Lab    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A collaboration led by scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory has created a high performance iron-based superconducting wire. The new iron, selenium, and tellurium material is described in Nature Communications, and demonstrates a unique layered structure that outperforms competing low-temperature superconducting wires while avoiding the high manufacturing costs associated with high-temperature superconductor alternatives. In addition to the raw materials being relatively inexpensive, and the final product being far less fragile, the synthesis process itself can be performed at just half the temperature of cuprate-based superconducting materials. But the key breakthrough is the discovery that adding layers of cerium-oxide in between the films and substrates dramatically increased the superconductor's critical current density, or maximum electricity load, as well as the critical temperature at which the material becomes superconducting. 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.

Access now available to NSBP members at

NASA's GALEX reveals the largest-known spiral galaxy
NASA    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A team of astronomers from the United States, Chile and Brazil has discovered the largest-known spiral galaxy based on archival data from NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) mission. GALEX is an orbiting UV space telescope. Measuring tip-to-tip across its two outsized spiral arms, NGC 6872 spans more than 522,000 light-years, making it more than five times the size of our Milky Way galaxy. The galaxy's unusual size and appearance stem from its interaction with a much smaller disk galaxy named IC 4970, which has only about one-fifth the mass of NGC 6872. The odd couple is located 212 million light-years from Earth. Distinct bars in the spiral have different star formation characteristics, with one rippling with star formation, and another with no sign of recent star formation. Placing these galaxies into their proper cosmological context may require astronomers to consider that IC 4970 may have spawned from NGC 6872, instead of the more common merger of galaxies. These observations and their implications are described in detail in Astronomy & Astrophysics. 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.

Second draft of Next Generation Science Standards released
National Center for Science Education    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The second public draft of the Next Generation Science Standards is available on-line — and your feedback is invited. The Next Generation Science Standards are intended to be "rich in content and practice, arranged in a coherent manner across disciplines and grades to provide all students an internationally benchmarked science education." The second draft will be available on-line for feedback from Jan. 8 to Jan. 29. After the writing team reacts to the review, a final draft is expected in the winter of 2013, with the final version of the standards released for adoption thereafter. More

AfAS and NSBP release statement on astrophysicist in Mali
Waves and Packets    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Cheick Modibo Diarra is a Malian astrophysicist who, after earning his doctorate at Howard University, worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as an interplanetary navigator on the Magellan and Ulysses missions. He was the CEO of Microsoft Africa when he returned to his homeland Mali in April 2012 as acting Prime Minister. On December 11, 2012, Diarra was arrested in his home in Bamako by soldiers that led the 2012 Malian coup d'etat. Hours later he was released whereupon he promptly resigned as Prime Minister. Since that time he has reportedly been under house arrest and in need of medical attention. The joint AfAS/NSBP statement calls for adequate medical attention to be afforded to him, and that his basic human rights be respected to the fullest. More

National Society of Black Physicists jobs board postings
NSBP    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Tenure-Track Faculty Position in Experimental Plasma Physics
Undergraduate Research Assistantship
NanoJapan: International Research Experience for Undergraduates
Research Experiences for Undergraduates: Materials Physics at the University of Florida
Astronomy/Astrophysics Grad Student Summer Researcher at National Solar Observatory in India
Summer Research Student
NASA Postdoctoral Fellowships
American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) Minority Undergraduate Summer Experience Program (MUSE)
Faculty Position in Astrophysical Dynamics
Rayleigh Endowed Chair in Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics
University of Idaho
University of Idaho
Assistant Professor of Physics-Tenure Track Bates College
REU Student
Two-Year Visiting Assistant Professor of Physics
Faculty Position in Experimental Astrophysics and Cosmology
National Radio Astronomy Observatory Research Experience for Undergraduates

Latest research from the Reports on Progress in Physics
IOP Publishing    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Optical trapping and binding

The role of dynamic measurements in correlating structure with optoelectronic properties in polymer : fullerene bulk-heterojunction solar cells

Radiation guiding with surface plasmon polaritons

Single-molecule nanometry for biological physics

History and progress on accurate measurements of the Planck constant


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Latest research from Planetary and Space Science
Elsevier    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Lunar sinuous rilles: Distribution, characteristics, and implications for their origin

Timescale for oceans in the past of Titan

Astrometric results of the mutual events between the Saturn's satellites observed at Yunnan Observatory

JUpiter ICy moons Explorer (JUICE): An ESA mission to orbit Ganymede and to characterise the Jupiter system

Electrospray charging of minerals and ices for hypervelocity impact research


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