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Physics

Roman lead ingot from the Bou Ferrer shipwreck (Photo: Directorate-General de Cultura, Ali...

The study of archaeology has long been carried out using tools from the physics lab. Among these are carbon-14 dating, thermoluminescence dating, x-ray photography, x-ray fluorescence elemental analysis, CAT and MRI scanning, ground-penetrating sonar and radar, and many others. What is less well known is that archaeology has also made substantial contributions to physics. This is the story of old lead; why it is important to physics, and what ethical problems it presents to both sciences.  Read More

The Universe is big, and so is the challenge of understanding its large-scale structure (P...

Our knowledge of the large-scale structure of the Universe is gradually taking shape. However, our improved vision is mostly being statistically squeezed from huge data sets. Working backward from a statistical analysis to a putative fact about the (singular) Universe, to which statistics do not apply on a cosmological scale, is a dicey business. A case in point is a recent look at the biggest known structures in the Universe – large quasar groups.  Read More

qCraft brings quantum mechanics to Minecraft

“Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it,” Niels Bohr famously wrote. However, Minecraft players can now be slightly closer to parsing the perplexities of quantum theory, thanks to qCraft, a collaboration between Google and Dr. Spyridon Michalakis, a scholar of quantum mechanics. What does this new mod bring to the game? Only quantum teleportation, observer dependencies, and Schrödinger’s Cat, for starters.  Read More

The Nobel Medal awaits Francois Englert and Peter Higgs, winners of the 2013 Nobel Prize i...

Following a last-minute delay, physicists Francois Englert and Peter Higgs were today jointly awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics for their independent formulation of the Higgs mechanism, which supplies fundamental particles with mass. Their theory was recently validated by the discovery of a Higgs boson at CERN's Large Hadron Collider.  Read More

A schematic drawing of the Q-Weak experiment, showing how the scattered electrons are anal...

Researchers at the Jefferson Accelerator Laboratory have measured the weak charge of the proton for the first time. Early results from the Q-Weak experiment find the weak charge of the proton and the neutron to be consistent with predictions of the Standard Model.  Read More

Inside the tunnel of the Fermilab Main Injector proton accelerator - the driving power beh...

Particle physicists have been eagerly awaiting the first trials of the new Main Injector neutrino beam at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in the US. This new facility is the result of reconfiguration of the Fermilab particle accelerators in the wake of the shutdown of the Tevatron in 2011. The new beam source is now online, and is well on route to becoming the world's most intense focused neutrino source.  Read More

Usain Bolt leaves the pack in his dust while setting a new world record for the 200-meter ...

Usain Bolt is often described as the world's fastest man. The reigning Olympic champion in the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints as well as a member of the Olympic champion 4x100 meter relay team, Bolt is the first man to win six Olympic gold medals in sprinting, and is a five-time world champion. Long and lanky at 6 ft 5 in tall, he towers above the (mostly) much shorter sprinters. How has he managed to come out on top for the past five years? A team of physicists from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) has analyzed Bolt's past performances in the 100-meter sprint to understand what makes a record-breaker.  Read More

The Last Ride of the Pony Express - painted by  George M. Ottinger in 1873 - showing a Pon...

After linking the world for 167 years, the commercial electric telegraph is no more. The speed with which electromagnetic telegraph systems took over both short- and long-distance communication in the mid 19th century set the pattern which telephones and the internet would follow, spawning the connected world we now live in. The closing down of India's state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam, Ltd. (BSNL) network on Monday sparked a last-minute rush of people looking to send a souvenir telegram to mark the historic event before the electric telegraph was relegated to the history books.  Read More

Quantum physicists appear to be as confused about quantum mechanics as the average man in ...

An invitation-only conference held back in 2011 on the topic "Quantum Physics and the Nature of Reality" (QPNR) saw top physicists, mathematicians, and philosophers of science specializing in the meaning and interpretation of quantum mechanics wrangling over an array of fundamental issues. An interesting aspect of the gathering was that when informally polled on the main issues and open problems in the foundations of quantum mechanics, the results showed that the scientific community still has no clear consensus concerning the basic nature of quantum physics.  Read More

The speed of entanglement dynamics is at least 10,000 times faster than light according to...

Quantum entanglement, one of the odder aspects of quantum theory, links the properties of particles even when they are separated by large distances. When a property of one of a pair of entangled particles is measured, the other "immediately" settles down into a state compatible with that measurement. So how fast is "immediately"? According to research by Prof. Juan Yin and colleagues at the University of Science and Technology of China in Shanghai, the lower limit to the speed associated with entanglement dynamics – or "spooky action at a distance" – is at least 10,000 times faster than light.  Read More

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