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Apr. 21, 2012
Volume: III
Number: 15
National Society of Black Physicists    African Physical Society    South African Institute of Physics   African Astronomical Society   
1st observation of coherent quantum phase slip in Josephson junction
Physics World    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
An international team of physicists has observed coherent quantum phase slip, the quantum tunneling of magnetic flux through a thin layer of superconducting material. Superconductors normally expel magnetic fields from their interiors, so it has been difficult to observe coherent quantum phase slip experimentally, though it was predicted six years ago. This 1st observation is reported in Nature, and perhaps made possible by the experimental use of certain strongly disordered superconductors near the superconductor–insulator transition. The implications of this work are profound and the applications could range from superconducting electronics and spintronics to metrology and quantum computers. More

The Lancet highlights role of physics in medicine
Medical Physics Web    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The British medical journal The Lancet this week published its Physics and Medicine Series, a set of five articles and two comments that highlight the many ways in which physics has revolutionized medical practice. The Series, published to coincide with the anniversary of Albert Einstein's death, calls for medical physics to be promoted as a career choice and recognized as a vocational discipline. More

New optical technique promises rapid and accurate diagnosis of malaria infection
Optical Society of America    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Correctly and quickly diagnosing malaria is essential for effective and life-saving treatment. But rapid detection, particularly in remote areas, is not always possible because current methods are time-consuming and require precise instrumentation and highly skilled microscopic analysis. A promising new optical imaging system, based on speckle imaging of red blood cells and described in Biomedical Optics Express, may make the diagnosis of this deadly disease much easier, faster, and more accurate. When irradiated with a tilted laser, healthy and diseased blood cells give statistically different speckle images due to structural and dynamic changes in the cell membranes. These types of images combined with "fuzzy logic" image analysis algorithm allows for an accurate diagnosis in 30 minutes where in some cases a diagnosis can take upwards of 8 hours. More

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Most LAT detected gamma rays cannot be attributed to individual point sources
SLAC Today    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
In a forthcoming paper in the Astrophysical Journal, scientists using the Large Area Telescope (LAT) onboard the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope report that the pulsars, active galactic nuclei, and the all the rest of the gamma-ray sources pinpointed by the LAT account for only about 10 percent of the gamma-ray photons that have been detected. Most of the gamma rays detected by the LAT are "diffuse" emissions originating from cosmic rays that interacting with the gas and radiation fields in interstellar medium, which if filled with gas, dust, and high-energy particles. This new analysis suggests that the density of cosmic rays is higher than anticipated in the outer reaches of the galaxy, and that the total amount of gamma radiation from cosmic ray electrons due to interactions with infrared and visible light is larger than previously thought. More

2012 Quadrennial Physics Changed
Important Deadline Changed
PhysCon Chapter Reporter Award — May 15
Would your college physics club/SPS Chapter like $500 to help offset your expenses to the 2012 PhysCon, as well as the chance to share your experiences with others? More

The 2012 Quadrennial Physics Congress will be hosted by Sigma Pi Sigma, the physics honor society, in Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 8-12. It will center on the theme Connecting Worlds Through Science & Service. Undergraduates, practicing physicists and physics alumni from a broad spectrum of career paths will gather together to address the interconnectivity of the modern world and what it means to science.

Important dates
Sept. 17 — Early Registration Deadline
Oct. 15 — Registration Deadline, Artwork Submission Deadline, Abstract Submission Deadline

Measurements of atmospheric electric field could help forecast weather
Environmental Research Web    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Local weather conditions can change the electrical conductivity of the atmosphere or even the amount of charge it contains. This in turn affects the atmospheric electric field. In a report in Environmental Research Letters researchers demonstrate that the atmospheric electric field decreases as fog begins to form and then increases again as the fog lifts. These changes in electric field are detected before other instruments can identify the processes, which demonstrates the potential use of electric field measurements for the prediction of fog formation and fog lifting. In a separate analysis they also demonstrated that a rising boundary layer coincides with an increasing electric field. So they suggest that electric field measurements can be a useful addition to more routine weather observations. More

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Physicists observe the splitting of an electron inside a solid
Physics World    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A team of physicists have observed the properties of an electrons in a nanowire as two separate manifestations, each carrying a particular property of the electron: a spinon carrying its spin — the property making the electron behave as a tiny compass needle — and an orbiton carrying its orbital moment — which arises from the electron's motion around the nucleus. The electron's break-up into two new particles was gleaned from X-ray stimulation of the one-dimensional Mott insulator Sr2CuO3. Scattering of an X-ray photon caused an electron to switch spin orientations with its neighbor, and that caused a discontinuity in spin arrangement. The researchers were able to resolve spin excitations from the collective electron excitations. This result is reported in Nature. More

ALMA's first results tackle the controversial Fomalhaut
Astrobites    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The first science results from the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) have been published. The observations, to be reported in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, reveal the dust ring encircling the star Fomalhaut with unprecedented resolution. This star, just 25 light years from Earth, has received much attention from planet hunters in recent years, as the star's exquisite dust ring is believed to be an ideal laboratory for planet formation. For several years, it was believed that the star was home to a Jupiter-like planet, Fomalhaut b, which was first identified in optical images from the Hubble Space Telescope in 2008. However, the planet’s existence was challenged when infrared observations from the Spitzer Space Telescope failed to find the planet. Now, using high-resolution images from ALMA, Boley et al. show that Fomalhaut likely hosts not one but two planets, each with a mass comparable to the mass of the Earth. 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.

IceCube detector puts the chill on fireball model of gamma ray bursts
Ars Technica    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Gamma ray bursts (GRBs) can accelerate protons to energies of 1018 eV. According to standard "fireball" model for GRB explosions, the proton acceleration should be accompanied by a flood of neutrinos. But an analysis of high-energy neutrinos observed by the IceCube experiment at the South Pole, published in Nature, has found too few neutrinos relative to what GRB models say we should see. The IceCube detector system picks up the Čerenkov radiation emitted after a neutrino collides with an atomic nucleus. Detections of Čerenkov radiation are then correlated with satellite detections of GRBs. But this new result will force researchers to reexamine both the GRB and cosmic ray models, which should ultimately lead us to a better understanding of some of the Universe's most energetic events. More

Gravitational Wave Astronomy Workshop
The South African Institute of Physics in collaboration with U.S.-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory will be hosting a workshop from May 31-June 1 to promote gravitational wave astronomy in Africa. The workshop will cover an overview of the field, including laser interferometry, data analysis, numerical relativity, approximate analytic methods, source modeling and astrophysical implications, pulsar timing and current African activity in gravitational wave astronomy.

New study finds mysterious lack of dark matter in Sun's neighborhood
European Southern Observatory    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A team using the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory, along with other telescopes, has mapped the motions of more than 400 stars up to 13,000 light-years from the Sun. From this new data they have calculated the mass of material in the vicinity of the Sun, in a volume four times larger than ever considered before. The team found no evidence for dark matter in the volume. Dark matter has long been thought to be an explanation for gravitation effects seen in galaxy formation and rotation. But all attempts so far to detect dark matter in laboratories on Earth have failed. Despite the new results, the Milky Way apparently rotates much faster than the visible matter alone can account for. So new theories and new methods will have to be developed to move beyond current understanding. More

International Conference of Physics Students
The International Conference of Physics Students is an annual conference of the International Association of Physics Students. Usually, up to 400 students from all over the world attend the event. The 2012 ICPS will be held in the Netherlands in Aug. 4-10. During this week, approximately 400 students from around the world can enjoy lectures from top-class physicists, trips to scientific institutions and cultural excursions. Registration opens in February at

Dirac cones could exist in bismuth-antimony films
Physics World    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
New theoretical results published in Nano Letters suggest that Dirac cones could exist in thin films made of bismuth and antinomy. Dirac cones have only been seen in graphyne and graphyne sheets. These calculations would only be predictive at ultra-cold temperatures, and have not been experimentally verified, but devices fabricated from bismuth-antimony films would be an important technological advance because they would conduct electricity extremely well while having low thermal conductivity. More

NASA mission wants amateur astronomers to target asteroids
NASA    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A new NASA outreach project will enlist the help of amateur astronomers to discover near-Earth objects (NEOs) and study their characteristics. A new citizen science project called "Target Asteroids!" will support NASA's Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security -Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission objectives to improve basic scientific understanding of NEOs. OSIRIS-Rex is scheduled for launch in 2016. Amateur astronomers will help better characterize the population of NEOs, including their position, motion, rotation and changes in the intensity of light they emit. Professional astronomers will use this information to refine theoretical models of asteroids, improving their understanding about asteroids similar to the one OSIRIS-Rex will encounter in 2019, designated 1999 RQ36. 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.

New AAAS analysis of the House budget's impacts on R&D
AAAS    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The recently passed House budget resolution and the looming across-the-board spending cuts would reduce discretionary spending dramatically, and these cuts would likely have significant impacts on federal R&D. To try to clarify what these impacts might be, AAAS has produced a new analysis that estimates potential R&D cuts based on House and Administration spending proposals, the automatic spending cuts in the Budget Control Act, and current R&D spending patterns, along with some simple assumptions. While these figures should be interpreted with caution due to the uncertainty involved, the analysis finds that the House budget could reduce total baseline spending in key budget accounts by 15 percent below the President's request, amounting to a 5 percent cut in nondefense R&D from the current year, without accounting for the across-the-board cuts scheduled to take place in January 2013. Factoring in these additional cuts, the House budget could yield reductions in total R&D of up to 12 percent below the current year, with nondefense R&D receiving a disproportionate amount of the cuts. Over the next decade, the House budget could reduce nondefense R&D by up to 27 percent, or $161 billion, below the President's request. While most research areas would receive sharp reductions, some — including clean energy — could be particularly hard hit. More

House panel would protect domestic fusion program
Science Insider    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The details will not be out for another week, hopefully in time for the Science, Engineering and Technology Working Group's Congressional Visits Day, but in their version of the 2013 budget for the Department of Energy (DOE), legislators on a spending panel in the House of Representatives would reverse dramatic cuts to the U.S. fusion research program that the White House proposed in February. They would, however, take a big bite out of DOE's fledgling Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which aims to quickly develop the most promising energy-related basic research for technological exploitation. More

More budget updates: NIST fares well. House panel tops Senate mark for NSF
Science Insider    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
There is still a lot of political drama to play out, but the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) seems to be faring well so far in the 2013 budget process. The Senate appropriations subcommittee that covers the agency recommended a 10% increase for FY 2013. A key House panel has recommended a 4.1% increase for the National Science Foundation. The House and Senate marks are both below the request made by the Obama Administration. But the House mark is higher than the Senate’s recommended budget. The House mark for the DOE Office of Science would result in an overall budget decrease in FY-13, a move in the complete opposite direction as President Obama's request. The Senate has yet to make an FY-13 mark for the Office of Science. More

Accepted/rejected — Now what?
NSBP    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Most programs will communicate their decisions in March through April for the following fall class. Congratulations, you have been offered admissions to programs of your choice. Now what do you do? First, consider the funding. Is it guaranteed for multiple years? Is the funding enough to cover tuition and a reasonable lifestyle? What kind of housing is available? And what is your relative ranking of all the things that factor into your happiness? More

After you're accepted to graduate school    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
You may have applied to more than one graduate program, but even if you applied to only a single program, you must assess how the program into which you have been accepted will fit your specific needs. This can be done through self-assessment, inquiries and research. You should identify what it is you are looking for in a graduate program — academically, personally and professionally. More

National Society of Black Physicists jobs board postings
NSBP    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Kenyon College One-year Visiting Assistant Professor of Physics
Faculty Positions in Science, Technology, and Innovation
NASA Postdoctoral Fellowships
High School Instructor of Physics
Entrepreneurship for Scientists and Engineers in East Africa
Director, South African Astronomical Observatory
Tenure Track (Open Rank) Faculty Position — Stony Brook Center for Science and Mathematics Education
National Astrophysics and Space Science Program
Postdoctoral Research Associate Positions

Latest research from Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter
Journal of Physics    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The electronic structure and optical response of rutile, anatase and brookite TiO 2

Metamagnetism and weak ferromagnetism in nickel (II) oxalate crystals

Exciton phase transitions in semiconductor quantum wells with disc-shaped electrode

Temperature-dependent Raman scattering study of the defect pyrochlores RbNbWO 6 and CsTaWO 6

The physics of protein–DNA interaction networks in the control of gene expression

Latest research from Applied Physics B
Applied Physics B    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Enhancement of performance for blue organic light emitting devices by utilizing an adjustable chromaticity layer

Dual-wavelength asynchronous and synchronous mode-locking operation by a Nd:CLTGG disordered crystal

A lightweight balloon-borne laser diode sensor for the in-situ measurement of CO2 at 2.68 micron in the upper troposphere and the lower stratosphere

Emission characteristics of Dy3+ ions in lead antimony borate glasses

Synthesis, characterization, thermo- and photoluminescence properties of Bi3+ co-doped Gd2O3:Eu3+ nanophosphors


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