APS Weekly NewsBrief
Aug. 31, 2010

Very tiny, very cool
Science News
Annoyingly tiny fridges may not be restricted to hotels or dorm rooms much longer. A new study soon to appear in the journal Physical Review Letters proposes a way to construct the smallest refrigerator yet, based on just a few particles and capable of cooling to near absolute zero.More

Research improves silicon for quantum computing
EE Times
A team of scientists from University College London (UCL) and the National High Magnetic Field Lab (NHMFL) in Florida has discovered a more efficient way to encode quantum information in silicon. More

Better light measurement through quantum cloning
Quantum mechanically cloned photons offer an improved way to measure the power in a light source. Read the associated Physical Review Letters article.More

Pushy hydrogen boosts molecular microscopy
Physics World
Physicists in Germany discovered a simple way of using a scanning tunneling microscope to take images of molecules at the atomic scale. The secret to the technique is Pauli exclusion, a short-range force that arises from the fact that two or more electrons cannot occupy the same quantum mechanical state. Read the associated Physical Review Focus article.More

Hackers blind quantum cryptographers
Nature News
Quantum hackers have performed the first 'invisible' attack on two commercial quantum cryptographic systems. By using lasers on the systems -- which use quantum states of light to encrypt information for transmission -- they have fully cracked their encryption keys, yet left no trace of the hack.More

Nuclear theory nudged
Nature News
For 40 years, physicists at the Oak Ridge Electron Linear Accelerator (ORELA) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee fired bursts of neutrons at various targets to probe the structure of atomic nuclei. Now, with the facility effectively mothballed by a shortage of funds, a newly published result based on data gathered at ORELA has challenged a well-established theory of the nucleus. Independent experts say that further measurements should be made to follow up the tantalizing claim, which would involve putting the facility back on line. Read the associated Physical Review Letters article.More

Distant astrophysical beacons reveal masses of the solar system's planets
Scientific American
Electromagnetic pulses from far-flung celestial objects can provide a sort of scale with which to gauge the mass of the planets, according to a new study. The technique relies on the regularity of ultrashort blasts of radiation from pulsars, which result from the collapse of a massive star to an extremely dense and rapidly spinning magnetized remnant. More

LHC computing grid pushes petabytes of data, beats expectations
Ars Technica
The LHC isn't simply the most powerful particle accelerator ever created. Handling the huge amounts of data it produces has required the creation of one of the biggest computer grids on the planet. The planning and testing of the computer facilities has been taking place for years, but it's only recently that the grid has had to deal with the output from actual collisions. How did it do? "From the IT perspective, we didn't notice when the beams came on," said CERN's Wolfgang von Rueden, "We had tested it with much higher throughput conditions."More