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Jan. 28, 2012
Volume: III
Number: 4
National Society of Black Physicists    African Physical Society    South African Institute of Physics   African Astronomical Society   
Physicists make a graphene microdistillery
The Register    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A team led by Andre Geim, one of the Nobel prize-winning scientists who first reported the making of graphene, has now found out that the material can stop air and other gases, but it lets water right through. They sealed a bottle of vodka with a graphene oxide membrane and found that the distilled solution became stronger and stronger with time. The result has been published in Science. More

Graphene could be perfect absorber of light
Physics World    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Physicists in Spain and the U.K. have calculated that graphene could be used to create a perfect absorber of light if the material is doped such that is electrically charged, and if it is patterned into a periodic array." The work could lead to improved light-detection devices, particularly in the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum, where current technologies struggle to function. The paper describing this work is available on arXiv, and will be published in Physical Review Letters. More

Want to make a giant telescope mirror? Here's how
NPR    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
VideoBriefThe world's largest mirrors, 27 feet in diameter, for the world's largest telescopes, the Giant Magellan Telescope, are made under the football stadium at the University of Arizona. The process involves heating chunks of glass to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit, spin casting the melt followed by annealing in a mold for two-and-a-half months, then polishing. The GMT will be operational in about 10 years and will be located in Chile. More

Fermilab plans for a future of discovery
Symmetry Breaking    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The only laboratory in the United States dedicated entirely to particle physics recently released its plan for the next two decades. According to the document: The keys to Fermilab's long-term future are two facilities that could be operating in the 2020s: the Long-Baseline Neutrino Experiment and Project X. Read the full document, "A Plan for Discovery." More

Cooling semiconductor by laser light
University of Copenhagen    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute have succeeded in producing a semiconductor membrane with a thickness of 160 nanometers and an unprecedented surface area of 1 by 1 millimeter. They then let the membrane interact with a laser in such a way that its mechanical movements affected the light that hit it. They discovered that a certain oscillation mode of the membrane cooled it down from room temperature to minus 269 degrees Celsius, which was a result of the complex and fascinating interplay between the movement of the membrane, the properties of the semiconductor and the optical resonances. The result has been published in Nature Physics. More

Scientists create 1st free-standing 3-D cloak    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A team of scientists at the University of Texas at Austin have created a cloak possible of concealing 3-D objects using a method known as plasmonic cloaking. The latest experiment, published in the New Journal of Physics, comes as a number of research facilities have announced similar success in cloaking objects. Plasmonic cloaking is reportedly superior to other recent cloaking methods in that it hides the object not only by scattering light, but rather by coating a cylinder with a nanometer-sized plasmonic material that then scatters electromagnetic waves in optical and microwave frequencies. Previous efforts rendered objects invisible along a plane, in two dimensions, by bending microwaves around the objects. Last year, researchers demonstrated an invisibility cloak that worked in three dimensions, concealing a bump on a reflective surface. More

SLAC team creates 1st atomic X-ray laser
SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Scientists working at the U.S. Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have created the shortest, purest X-ray laser pulses ever achieved. This feat, reported in Nature, will enable more precise investigations into ultrafast processes and chemical reactions than had been possible before. The team also reported the creation and probe of a 2-million-degree piece of matter in a controlled way for the first time. More

How fast does quantum information flow through a lattice?
Ars Technica    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
In nonrelativistic systems, where particle speeds are much less than the speed of light, interactions still occur very quickly, and they often involve lots of particles. As a result, measuring the speed of interactions within materials has been difficult. The theoretical speed limit is set by the Lieb-Robinson bound, which describes how a change in one part of a system propagates through the rest of the material. In a new study, published in Nature, the Lieb-Robinson bound was quantified experimentally for the first time, using a real quantum gas. More

International Conference of Physics Students
The International Conference of Physics Students is an annual conference of the International Association of Physics Students. Usually, up to 400 students from all over the world attend the event. The 2012 ICPS will be held in the Netherlands in Aug. 4-10. During this week, approximately 400 students from around the world can enjoy lectures from top-class physicists, trips to scientific institutions and cultural excursions. Registration opens in February at

Rap music powers rhythmic action of medical sensor
Purdue University    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The driving bass rhythm of rap music can be harnessed to power a new type of miniature medical sensor designed to be implanted in the body. Acoustic waves from music, particularly rap music, were found to effectively recharge a miniature implantable medical pressure sensor. Such a device might ultimately help to treat people stricken with aneurisms or incontinence due to paralysis. The heart of the sensor is a vibrating cantilever, a thin beam attached at one end like a miniature diving board. Music within a certain range of frequencies, from 200-500 hertz, causes the cantilever to vibrate, generating electricity and storing a charge in a capacitor. More

Efficient production of Rydberg positronium may answer does antimatter weigh more than matter
EurekAlert    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Physicists at the University of California, Riverside, have separated the positron from the electron in positronium — a bound state between a positron and an electron — long enough to measure the effect of gravity on it. The two-step process as described in Physical Review Letters, consists of incoherent laser excitation, first to the 23P state, and then to states with principal quantum numbers ranging from 10 to 25, leads to lifetimes on the order of microseconds before the positron and an electron annihilate one another. More

2012 Quadrennial Physics Congress
The 2012 Quadrennial Physics Congress, hosted by Sigma Pi Sigma, the physics honor society. This meeting will take place Nov. 8-12 in Orlando, Fla., and will center on the theme Connecting Worlds Through Science & Service. Undergraduates, practicing physicists and physics alumni from a broad spectrum of career paths will gather together to address the interconnectivity of the modern world and what it means to science.

The Congress will feature talks by distinguished scientists such as Dr. John Mather, Physics Nobel Laureate; Freeman Dyson, acclaimed scientist and author; Dr. John Grunsfeld, astronaut and former chief scientist of NASA; Dr. Jocelyn Bell Burnell, world-class astrophysicist known for discovering pulsars, and many more.

Kepler mission announces 11 planetary systems hosting 26 planets
NASA    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
NASA's Kepler mission has discovered 11 new planetary systems hosting 26 confirmed planets. The discoveries boost the list of confirmed extra-solar planets to 729, including 60 credited to the Kepler team. Kepler scientists have another 2,300 candidate planets awaiting additional confirmation. Such observations will help astronomers better understand how planets form. The new discoveries are published in multiple papers that appear in either the Astrophysical Journal or the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. More

Elusive matter found to be abundant far above Earth
American Geophysical Union    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Space physicists have long lacked clues as to how much cold (i.e. low-energy) plasma exists tens of thousands of miles above Earth and how it may impact our planet's interaction with the sun. Now, a new method developed by Swedish researchers makes cold plasma measurable and reveals significantly more cold, charged ions in Earth's upper altitudes than previously imagined. The new evidence of abundant cold ions may change our understanding of space weather and lead to more accurate forecasting of it, as well as shed light on what's happening around other planets and moons — for instance, helping explain why the once robust atmosphere of Mars is so wispy today. More

Debate over Research Work Act heats up
The Scholarly Kitchen    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The Research Works Act was introduced in the U.S. Congress in December. If passed, the legislation would prohibit the NIH's public access policy and anything similar enacted by other federal agencies, locking publicly funded research behind paywalls. Some commenters have declared the RWA antithetical to the principle of openness and free information flow in science, and have directed much ire onto commercial publishers that have supported RWA, particularly Elsevier. Such rhetoric is probably not useful.

It is probably more useful to appreciate that dissemination and permanent archiving of peer-reviewed scholarly research in a uniform and standard way is a necessary service. Such service has nonzero costs. The service providers make considerable investments to offer it, and they expect a return on their investment.

Clearly, public access and public use are attractive concepts. However, there are several myths fueling the entire issue, including the following, (1) that all published papers are from taxpayer supported research, (2) that taxpayers cover the full costs of the performance, reporting and archiving the research that is publicly supported. (3) that taxpayers have unlimited free access and usage rights to any and all taxpayer supported products, including a published research paper, and (4) that the Internet has wrung most of the publishers' costs out of the system.

In some sense, publishers are just one link in the long chain of service providers in the performance and reporting of research. Taxpayer dollars were no more given to any publisher than they were to the makers of research equipment or office supplies, and no one is suggesting that any of those companies should give away their products for free. Maybe the public's claim for access to research is more correctly visited upon researchers and their institutions, the actual direct recipients of taxpayer dollars, and not necessarily the publishers. In the past, articles have always been generally available directly from researchers. The Internet has just displaced that expectation.

What this is really all about is changing the dynamics between consumers (authors, subscribers and the general public) and corporations (the various publishers). The basic questions are who pays, on what end of the production chain and to what group the market responds to the most. What needs to be resolved is how does the scientific research industry reconcile the natural facts, recognize the myths and eschew their effects in order to make an efficient enterprise and help make for more science literate society.

National Society of Black Physicists jobs board postings
NSBP    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Summer Undergraduate Intern
University of Florida Materials Physics Research Experience for Undgraduates
Undergraduate Summer Research Assistant
Research internships in computational astrophysics
Tenure Track (Open Rank) Faculty Position - Stony Brook Center for Science and Mathematics Education
Physics Research Experiences for Undergraduates
Atmospheric Chemistry REU
Undergraduate Research Student
Center for Emergent Materials, CEM, Summer REU Program at The Ohio State University
REU Student
REU - Undergraduate Researcher
Summer REU in Materials and Condensed Matter Physics at Penn State University
Summer MRSEC REU Experience
SURF - Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship
REU-Research Experience for Undergraduates
Summertime MRSEC REU Participant
Higher Education Research Experiences for Undergraduates
The Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education
Research Experience for Undergrads — University of Utah
University of Colorado Physics REU

Advice for graduate students
Inside Higher Education
Steven Stearns offers some insight and advice for graduate students. Know thyself and know thy advisor. More

More advice for graduate students
Inside Higher Education
So much comes down to good writing skills. Steven Stearns offers some tips on how to write well and write strategically. More

Overcoming the imposter syndrome
At one time or another nearly every graduate student and new faculty member wonders about his or her competence. This is a common fear often referred to as the impostor syndrome. The impostor syndrome runs rampant in academia — and women are especially prone to it. How do you get over the impostor syndrome? Easier said than done. More

Ready. Set. Go. Transitioning from college to graduate school
Compared to your undergraduate education, graduate school is faster paced. Professors expect a lot of work to be done, and there's a lot less hand-holding. More

Latest research from Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter
IOP Journal    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Hydrogen embrittlement in a magnesium grain boundary: A 1st-principles study

Fully relativistic pseudopotential formalism under an atomic orbital basis: Spin–orbit splittings and magnetic anisotropies

Multisubband transport and magnetic deflection of Fermi electron trajectories in 3 terminal junctions and rings

Swift heavy ion damage to sodium chloride: Synergy between excitation and thermal spikes

An effective quantum parameter for strongly correlated metallic ferromagnets

Latest research from Journal of Geophysical Research — Space Physics
Journal of Geophysical Research — Space Physics    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Long-term changes in the thermospheric neutral winds over Arecibo: Climatology based on over 3 decades of Fabry-Perot observations

A case study of upstream wave transmission to the ground at polar and low latitudes

Cassini observations of ion and electron beams at Saturn and their relationship to infrared auroral arcs

Magnetospheric location of the equatorward prebreakup arc

Evidence of multiple reconnection lines at the magnetopause from cusp observations


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