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Quantum pendulum trick explained
Science News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Physicists have explained yet another quirk of the quantum world: why, if you swing a pendulum through a quantum fluid, it speeds up rather than slows down. Tiny "quasiparticles" ricocheting around in the fluid are to blame, Finnish researchers report in an upcoming issue of Physical Review Letters. More

Tiny water hammers bash blades
PhysicsWorld    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A miniature version of a well-known plumbing nuisance could be having a more deadly effect on industrial machinery than we first thought. That is according to researchers who have characterized something known as the "water hammer" effect and how it can enable water droplets to penetrate surfaces. Read the associated Physical Review Letters article. More

For fully mature black holes, time stands still
Space.com via Yahoo News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The end of a black hole's evolution is believed to be a mind-bending condition known as Kerr spacetime. A new study proposes a method to tell how far any black hole is from reaching this end state. More

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Atom counting helps kilogram watch its weight
NewScientist    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail
At a conference at the Royal Society in London, researchers discussed ways to replace the aging chunk of metal that serves as the world's standard kilogram with a kilogram based on a fundamental constant. Read the associated APS Physics Synopsis article. More

Like NASCAR drivers, microbes forced to circle forever to the left
Science Magazine    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
It's a pretty effect with an even prettier explanation: By putting the common gut bacterium Escherichia coli in just the right place, physicists have found they can make it swim in counterclockwise loop-the-loops. Other scientists had forced the bacterium to swim in clockwise circles. But the new effect has a particularly appealing explanation, and together the two findings might allow researchers to shuttle bacteria about in tiny "lab-on-a-chip" devices. Read the associated Physical Review Letters article. More

Strain and spin could drive ultralow energy computers
PhysicsWorld    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Tiny layered magnets could be used as the basic processing units in highly energy-efficient computers. So say researchers who have shown that the magnetization of these nanometer-sized magnets can be switched using extremely small voltages that induce mechanical strain in a layer of the material. The resulting mechanical deformations affect the behavior of electron spins, allowing the materials to be used in spintronics devices. These are electronic circuits that exploit the spin of the electron as well as its charge. More

Astronomers claim earliest galaxy yet from Hubble
The Associated Press via Yahoo News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
An international team of astronomers say they've glimpsed the earliest galaxy yet, a smudge of light from nearly 13.2 billion years ago -- a time when the cosmos was a far lonelier place. The research hasn't been confirmed, and some astronomers are skeptical. The new findings are based on an image from the Hubble Space Telescope and are published in the journal Nature. The scientists calculate the new-found galaxy dates to just 480 million years after the Big Bang. More

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Did Vikings navigate by polarized light?
Nature News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A Viking legend tells of a glowing 'sunstone' that, when held up to the sky, revealed the position of the Sun even on a cloudy day. It sounds like magic, but scientists measuring the properties of light in the sky say that polarizing crystals -- which function in the same way as the mythical sunstone -- could have helped ancient sailors to cross the northern Atlantic. A review of their evidence is published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B1. More

Atomic disguise makes helium look like hydrogen
NewScientist    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
In a feat of modern-day alchemy, atom tinkerers have fooled hydrogen atoms into accepting a helium atom as one of their own. The camouflaged atom behaves chemically like hydrogen, but has four times the mass of normal hydrogen, allowing predictions for how atomic mass affects reaction rates to be put to the test. More

APS Weekly NewsBrief
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