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Physics

— Physics

Researchers discover a universal law of superconductivity

The immutable laws that govern our universe – such as those that reign over the observable world in classical mechanics and those that rule the atomic physics world – are at the core of all of our scientific principles. They not only provide consistent, repeatable, and accurate rules that allow calculations and experiments to be tested or verified, they also help us make sense of the workings of the cosmos. MIT researchers claim to have discovered a new universal law for superconductors that, if proved accurate, would bring the physics of superconductors in line with other universal laws and advance the likes of superconducting circuits for quantum and super low-power computing. Read More
— Science

Put Christmas Lego to good use: Measure Planck’s Constant with it

Lego is a popular Christmas gift, and young and old alike can derive hours of pleasure building with those little plastic blocks. But, like a lot of playthings, the novelty wears off soon enough and you find yourself drifting back to watch Christmas TV re-runs. But what if you could use that Lego to construct real scientific equipment; would that maintain your enthusiasm? Well hang on to your plastic blocks, because engineers have designed an experiment that uses Lego and a few other bits and pieces that allows any keen tinkerer to build a device that not only determines Planck's Constant but may also help quantify the international standard unit of mass. Read More
— Science

Berkeley lab builds world record tabletop-size particle accelerator

Taking careful aim with a quadrillion watt laser, researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab claim to have managed to speed up subatomic particles to the highest energies ever recorded for a compact accelerator. By blasting plasma in their tabletop-size laser-plasma accelerator, the scientists assert that they have produced acceleration energy of around of 4.25 giga-electron volts. Acceleration of this magnitude over the short distances involved correlates to an energy rise 1,000 times greater than that of a traditional – and very much larger – particle accelerator. Read More
— Robotics

Researchers turn to cats to help soften robot landings

The animal kingdom is fertile ground for roboticists looking to improve on their designs, with everything from insects, fish, seahorses, jellyfish, caterpillars, snakes and birds providing inspiration. Now researchers at Georgia Tech are turning to cats to help soften robot landings. Rather than strapping some felines to a robot's underside, the team is studying the way cats twist in the air when falling to let future robots land safely from a jump or fall. Read More
— Science

What "Star Wars" laser bolts would actually look like

It's no secret that Star Wars is full of scenes that defy the laws of physics. From space battles inspired by WW I and II dogfights to beams of light clashing in lightsaber duels. The laser bolts fired from Han Solo's trusty blaster and Luke's X-wing also play by their own rules, traveling much slower than the speed of light and being perfectly visible in the vacuum of space. Researchers in Poland have now created a film to show what a laser bolt would actually look like. Read More
— Science

Scientists create a "water tractor beam"

If you've ever tried to retrieve an object that's floating away in a lake or the ocean, then you'll know how frustrating it can be, trying to draw that item towards you. According to research recently conducted at The Australian National University (ANU), however, it's possible to move such objects in whichever direction you wish – as long as you can generate the right type of waves. Read More
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