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Physics


— Science

Lasers could significantly shrink size and cost of particle accelerators

Particle accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) are wonders of modern engineering and vending machines for Nobel prizes, but they’re also large – as indicated by the LHC's name – and costly. A new theoretical study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator (BELLA) Center suggests how lasers could dramatically shrink the size and cost of particle accelerator. If the models hold true, it could remove a significant bottleneck from physics research and open up such machines to industrial and medical applications. Read More
— Science

Prime candidate crossed off list in search for dark matter particle

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) in Dresden, Germany have analyzed data from the HADES particle detector and concluded that the so-called "dark photons" are not the constituents of dark matter. Dark photons, or U bosons, are hypothetical particles that had thus far been the main candidate for that role, and this new result could make the search for the dark matter particle even more challenging than before. Read More
— Space

Illustris computer simulation creates the first realistic virtual universe

As you might expect, the scale and complexities of the underlying physics means creating a realistic virtual universe would require some hefty computing power. A team of astronomers is claiming to have achieved this impressive feat using a computer simulation called "Illustris," which took five years to program and, for the first time, can recreate the evolution of the Universe in high fidelity. Read More
— Science

Nanoparticles found to violate second law of thermodynamics

It may be a little late for April Fool's, but your skepticism is nonetheless warranted when reading that researchers have shown nanoparticles to disobey a fundamental law of physics which dictates the flow of entropy and heat in, it was believed, any situation. Specifically, researchers from three universities theoretically proposed then demonstrated that a nanoparticle in a state of thermal non-equilibrium does not always behave as larger particles might under the same conditions, with implications for various fields of research.

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— Space

NASA's Cold Atom Lab to make the ISS the coldest spot in the Universe

Quantum physics likes the cold. In particular, macroscopic quantum phenomena such as superconductivity, superfluidity, and Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) are only found at quite low temperatures. While current refrigeration methods can attain temperatures of a few nanoKelvins, attaining still lower temperatures is largely prevented by the need to support the cooling matter against the pull of Earth's gravity. Now NASA's Cold Atom Lab, scheduled for installation on the ISS in 2016, will aim for temperatures roughly four orders of magnitude smaller. Read More
— Science

First optical spectrum taken of ball lightning

A scientific team in China fortuitously recorded the first optical spectrum of an example of ball lightning. The ball lightning, which was accompanied by a cloud to ground lightning strike, appears to have consisted at least partially of vaporized soil from the location of the strike. While ball lightning may result from a variety of sources, this observation provides considerable evidence that the vaporized silicon explanation is valid, although possibly not unique. Read More
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