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  Mobile version   RSS   Subscribe   Unsubscribe   Archive   Media Kit Oct. 9, 2012
Volume: III
Number: 37

National Society of Black Physicists    African Physical Society   South African Institute of Physics   African Astronomical Society  


Astronomers announce most precise measurement yet of the Hubble constant
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Astronomers using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have announced the most precise measurement yet of the Hubble constant. The Hubble constant is named after astronomer Edwin P. Hubble, who in 1920 discovered that the universe is expanding. It is a measure of the rate at which the universe is expanding. Determining the expansion rate is critical for understanding the age and size of the universe. The newly refined value for the Hubble constant is 74.3 plus or minus 2.1 kilometers per second per megaparsec. A megaparsec is roughly 3 million light-years. This new Spitzer result was combined with previously published data from NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, and the entire study is reported in the Astrophysical Journal. The Spitzer telescope, now in its later years, has become a valuable cosmology tool; owing to its infrared optics that allows it see through space dust to provide better views of variable stars. Scientists have also used the telescope to study exoplanet atmospheres. More

Physicists propose electron cloaking device
Physics World    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A team of physicists at MIT have proposed a way to make an object invisible to electrons. The proposition is published in Physical Review Letters. It involves fabricating objects out of nanoparticles that comprise an inner core and an outer shell. The core–shell nanoparticle could then be embedded in a host semiconductor. As electrons move in the semiconductor, the nanoparticles, which are sized on the order of the coherent electron transport length, would reflect the electrons. The reflections would superimpose with the incoming electron waves, and constructively or destructively interfere with them. By fine-tuning the nanoparticle size and spacing, electrons with a specific energy can selected to pass through the semiconductor preventing them from scattering and dephasing. The applications of this electron mobility optimizing design could be enormous if not revolutionary in semiconductor electron devices. More

How physics can help you when you're making your next soufflé    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Everybody knows that to cleanly crack an egg you have to apply just the right force at its center to crack the shell without shattering it. Now, two forthcoming papers in Physical Review Letters demonstrate the exquisite physics behind breaking eggs. In physics terms, the first paper reports on an experimental investigation of the indentation of nonspherical pressurized elastic shells with positive Gauss curvature, and elucidated, for example, why an eggshell is significantly stiffer when compressed along its major axis, as compared to doing so along its minor axis. In the second paper, scientists used numerical simulations and theoretical analyses to study the indentation of ellipsoidal and cylindrical elastic shells, both in pressurized and unpressurized cases. Their results show that indentation stiffness of convex shells is dominated by either the mean or Gaussian curvature of the shell depending on the pressurization and indentation depth. More

NSBP is participating in the 2012 Quadrennial Physics Congress
NSBP is pleased to announce the availability of financial support for its student members to attend 2012 Quadrennial Physics Congress. To receive financial support students must register for the meeting by Oct. 15. For more information contact NSBP at

The 2012 Quadrennial Physics Congress will be hosted by Sigma Pi Sigma, the physics honor society, in Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 8-12. It 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. More

Important dates
Oct. 15 — Registration Deadline, Artwork Submission Deadline, Abstract Submission Deadline

Increase your options for graduate or REU program admissions
NSBP    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The NSBP GradApps and REUApps services are open to all students and allows them to upload all the elements of an admissions application, including academic and work history, transcripts, letters of recommendation and a personal statement. Graduate and REU programs can subscribe to these databases to increase the programs' applicant pool, while at the same time allowing students can put their credentials in front of more programs than to which they would otherwise apply. More

Nobel predictions: Higgs boson not yet prize-worthy
USA Today    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The Royal Swedish Academy the week of Oct. 15 will announce the 2012 Nobel Prizes in physics, chemistry and medicine. Each year, a team at Thomson Reuters predicts possible winners. They rarely call the winners exactly but have a good track record in noting scientists who do go on to win the awards a few years later. Team leader David Pendlebury says that it is too early for the Higgs boson team. Instead he suggests that "quantum teleportation" inventors Charles Bennett, Gilles Brassard and William Wooters, or light-speed-slowing pioneers Stephen Harris and Lene Hau, look more like winners for the physics prize. For a full list of possible winners, see the 2012 Citation Laureates website, which bases its predictions on the publishing record of leading scientists. More

Neutron superfluid may put the brakes on pulsars' spins
Ars Technica    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Pulsars are the spinning remnant of a star gone supernova. Scientists use pulsars and their electromagnetic beacons in a variety of lines of inquiry. Pulsar beacons are so precisely periodic that they can be used as a very sensitive test for gravitational waves, a prediction of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. But over time pulsars do slow down, and here is where condensed matter physicists try to connect the highly dense matter in the pulsar’s core to its astrophysical behavior. A pulsar's interior is comprised mostly of neutrons, mixed with protons and electrons at densities higher than those found in atomic nuclei. As a pulsar cools, its interior becomes an exotic mixture of a neutron superfluid and a proton superconductor; the latter of which causes pulsars to have intense magnetic fields. Most models of pulsar slowdown assume it is caused by the intense magnetic fields channeling energy into electromagnetic radiation. But a new model, discussed in a Nature Physics paper, picks up on the idea that in the stellar core there are domains of superfluidity and superconductivity, and spin-slow-down is caused by magneto-mechanical breaking. In particular their model is based on a decrease in the effective moment of inertia due to an increase in the fraction of the stellar core that becomes superfluid as the star cools through neutrino emission. More

Astronomers discover star racing around black hole at center of our galaxy
UCLA Newsroom    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A team led by Andrea Getz at the UCLA Galactic Center Group has reported in Science the discovery S0-102, a star that orbits the black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. At 11.5 years the star has the shortest known orbit of any star near this black hole. The discovery may help astronomers determine whether general relativity is right in its fundamental prediction of how black holes warp space and time. Previously astronomers knew of only one star with a very short orbit near the black hole, S0-2 which has a period of 16 years. Monitoring these two stars together will reveal the true geometry of space and time near a black hole for the first time. S0-102 and S0-2 are each in an elliptical orbit around the galaxy's central black hole. The elliptical orbits allow scientists to calculate the mass of the black hole, and deviations from perfectly elliptical orbits are a signature of general relativity. More

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Supersolidity shot down by its own discoverer
Science Magazine    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The complicated mystery of supersolidity appears to be coming to an end. Supersolidity is a bizarre phenomenon, first reported in 2004, where individual atoms in ultracold, highly pressurized solid helium supposedly flow like a liquid without any viscosity. It now appears that this phenomenon simply does not exist. The idea has been controversial from the start. It turns out now that nearly all the supposed signs of supersolidity seem to have a mundane explanation. Ironically, the data that may mark the end of the story come from the same physicist who reported the first signs of the phenomenon. In papers appearing in Physical Review B and in Physical Review Letters, he reports how a simple artifact of his experimental system may have led to the first mistaken report of supersolidity. But even if supersolidity is not real, what physicists learned about solid helium in 8 years, i.e., its softness at temperatures above 0.2 K—or "giant plasticity" — is itself a new physics result that likely has quantum roots. More

Physicists make 3-D 'movies' of electrons in topological electrons
R&D Magazine    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A team of physicists reported in Physical Review Letters the creation of 3-D "movies" of electron behavior in a topological insulator. Topological insulators are materials that are insulators in their interior, but are strong conductors on their surfaces. In fact, the surface is even more conductive than normal metals — allowing electrons to travel at almost the speed of light and to be unaffected by impurities in the material, which normally hinder their motion.

The researchers used the pump-probe laser technique to first elicit electron scattering via the pump, and then take images using the probe. This methodology produced movies with a frame rate on the level of femtoseconds — so they caught the motions of electrons as they scattered in response to a very short pulse of light. They have already discovered interactions between a topological insulators surface and bulk electrons that had never been seen before, including surface electrons scattering into the interior lattice. The interaction between the two is mediated by phonon-assisted surface-bulk coupling, and this interaction happens much more intensely at high temperatures.

Dark-matter alternative, Modified Newtonian dynamics, succeeds in describing galactic mergers
Physics World    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The researcher that first developed the theory of modified Newtonian dynamics has now used it to successfully predict the rotational properties of two elliptical galaxies. Mordehai Milgrom and others have long argued that MOND offers a viable alternative to dark matter when it comes to explaining the bizarre properties of galaxies. In this latest work, reported in Physical Review Letters, Milgrom analyses the hydrostatics of a spherical envelope of hot, X-ray emitting gas in two elliptical galaxies, NGC 720 and NGC 1521, and shows the predictions of MOND are equally valid in these. This latest results may not win over MOND skeptics and dark-matter adherents, but this latest result is a new success for the theory, even if it still has some considerable failures. More

7 policy issues that every physicist should follow
NSBP    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The election will likely not resolve seven issues that impact the world of physics. Looming really large in U.S. federal spending on science is "sequestration," which can lead to draconian budget cuts (8 to 17 percent) immediately in this fiscal year. Also of great interest to physicists are the global supply of helium and critical isotopes, which are already having great impacts on low-temperature physics and medical physics worldwide. Educational outcomes for our students, and the health of our universities, and how they relate to government spending and institutional efficiencies should be at the foremost concern of every academic physics department. Open access to research information and online access to courses are transforming information and money flows like never before. And finally, politicization of science, reflected in fiscal planning in general and climate change specifically, continues to be a serious problem worldwide. More

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
Designed as a unique and much-needed resource for educators, managers and policymakers, the Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering publishes original, peer-reviewed papers that report innovative ideas and programs for classroom teachers, scientific studies and formulation of concepts related to the education, recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups in science and engineering.

Access now available to NSBP members at

Entire field of particle physics is set to switch to open-access publishing
Scientific American    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The entire field of particle physics is set to switch to open-access publishing, a milestone in the push to make research results freely available to readers. After six years of negotiation, the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics is now close to ensuring that nearly all particle-physics articles — about 7,000 publications last year, spread out over mainly 12 journals — are made immediately free on journal websites. Upfront payments from libraries will fund the access.

Darrell W. Gunter, a longtime executive in the scholarly publishing business, commented to Waves and Packets stated, "SCOAP3 represents a new way of doing business in the scholarly publishing industry and is the first of many cracks in the traditional subscription model." Gunter believes we will see many more of these types of partnerships. But particle physics has some uniqueness that other fields do not have, including the relatively small number of journals in the field, relatively large research groups, and the entire field being driven mainly by one central organization.

This new consortium does prove that one size does not fit all when it comes to open-access and scholarly publishing. The prestigious APS publication Physical Review Letters, which contains some of the best papers in particle physics, did not have the pricing structure to make it into the consortium, while other APS journals, Physical Review C and Physical Review D, are included.

365 Days of Astronomy Podcast
365 Days of Astronomy Podcast publishes daily podcasts, five to 10 minutes in duration. They are written, recorded and produced by people around the world. We are looking for individuals, schools, companies and clubs to provide five to 10 podcasts. You can do as few as one episode or up to 12 episodes (one per month, subject, of course, to our editorial discretion). Our goal is to encourage people to sign up for a particular day (or days) of the year. For more information, see the 365 Days of Astronomy website.

1 librarian's tale: 'We had to say no and walk away from the American Chemical Society'
Attempting Elegance    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
SUNY Potsdam will not be subscribing to an American Chemical Society online journal package for 2013. The campus will instead be using a combination of the Royal Society of Chemistry content, ACS single-title subscriptions, the ACS backfile and ScienceDirect from Elsevier to meet their chemical information needs. They are doing this because the ACS pricing model is unsustainable for their institution and they were unable to find common ground with the sales team from the ACS. Instead, they explored other options and exercised them. Others may find themselves in position similar to SUNY Potsdam's as ACS and other publishers standardize their pricing. In her blog, the director of libraries tells the tale of how they got to where they are. More

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National Society of Black Physicists jobs board postings
NSBP    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Faculty Position in Theoretical Polymer Physics
Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy
Tenure-Track Faculty Position in Astronomy
Assistant Professor
Tenure-Track Faculty Position in Nanomaterials Growth at West Virginia University
Physics: Assistant Professor in Experimental Condensed Matter Magnetism - Miami University of Ohio
Tenure-track faculty position in physics
Assistant Professor of Physics — Agnes Scott College
Faculty Position in Experimental Condensed Matter at University of Maryland College Park
Assistant Professor
Tenure-Track Faculty Position for Planetary Science
Tenure Track Faculty Position in Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences
Tenure-Track Assistant Professor - University of Maryland Baltimore County
Assistant Professor — Biophysics
Assistant Professor in Department of Physics & Center for Computational and Integrative Biology
Assistant Professor - Experimental Relativistic Heavy-Ion Nuclear Physics — Univeristy of Kansas
Assistant Editor, Physical Review Letters
Tenure-track Assistant Professor Position in Experimental Condensed Matter Physics at Rice University
2 Tenure-track Faculty Positions in Astronomy/Astrophysics at Ohio University
Postdoctoral Positions in Cosmology at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Latest research from Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter
IOP Publishing    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Domain wall manipulation in magnetic nanotubes induced by electric current pulses

Critical point of a para–ferrimagnetic phase transition of the ANNNI model in a field

Softened magnetic excitations in the s = 3/2 distorted triangular antiferromagnet α-CaCr2O4

Nonlinear Coulomb blockade microscopy of a correlated 1-dimensional quantum dot

The local environment of Co2+ ions intercalated in vanadium oxide/hexadecylamine nanotubes

Latest research from JASA Express Letters
Acoustical Society of America    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Effects of shapes and symmetries of scatterers on acoustic dual-negative refraction

A 3-dimensional parabolic equation model of sound propagation using higher-order operator splitting and Padé approximants

Aspect-dependent radiated noise analysis of an under way autonomous underwater vehicle

Is clear speech tailored to counter the effect of specific adverse listening conditions?

Averaging underwater noise levels for environmental assessment of shipping More

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Colby Horton, Vice President of Publishing, 469.420.2601
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