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  Mobile version   RSS   Subscribe   Unsubscribe   Archive   Media Kit Oct. 15, 2012
Volume: III
Number: 37

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


Green laser pointer detects explosives
Optical Society of America    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
By using an ordinary green laser pointer, a research team at Ben-Gurion University in Israel has developed a new and highly portable Raman spectrometer that can detect extremely minute traces of hazardous chemicals in real time. Raman spectrometers rely on highly focused beams of light at precise wavelengths to illuminate small samples of materials. Some of the light that scatters off the sample will be frequency-shifted owing to the vibrational modes of sample, and that provides a compositional fingerprint of the material. The new system has the capability to both scan a wide field and detect the relatively weak Raman signal. The sensor's compact design makes it an excellent candidate for rapid field deployment to disaster zones and areas with security concerns. The work will be described at the upcoming FiO/LS conference. More

Possible cosmological solution to the Pioneer Anomaly
R&D Magazine    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The so-called Pioneer Anomaly refers to the two space probes, Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 that were launched in the early 70s and seemed to violate the Newtonian law of gravity by decelerating anomalously as they traveled outward from our solar system and beyond a distance of 3 billion kilometers from the Sun. There was nothing in physics to explain why this happened. Previous explanations, including one proposed just months ago, focused on thermal effects in the spacecraft. But a new explanation, published in Physical Review D, suggests that it can be explained by the effect of the expansion of the universe on the movement of photons. Beams of radio waves were sent to and bounced off the Pioneer spacecraft to measure the probes’ movement. The time it took for the photons to complete a round trip was used to calculate the respective spacecrafts’ distances and speeds. This new theory suggests that the photons move faster than expected from the Newtonian theory thus causing the appearance of deceleration, though the craft were actually traveling at the correct speed predicted by the theory. 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

X-ray laser reveals fast demagnetization in ferromagnets
R&D Magazine    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
While studying a magnetic material with pump-probe free electron laser, a team of researchers discovered a surprising effect in the demagnetization of ferromagnetic materials using DESY's free-electron laser FLASH. The scientists found that electrons can move very quickly between areas with different magnetization and thereby influence the demagnetization of the material. Physicists have previously known that ferromagnetic materials can be demagnetized extremely quickly when they are radiated with laser light pulses. But in these new experiments, reported in Nature Communications, the team found that electrons cross magnetic domain boundaries causing the destruction of the local magnetization. Previous explanations had rested upon spin–orbit interaction, magnetocrystalline anisotropy, and electron–phonon coupling. More

Physics of the Red Bull Stratos jump
Wired    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Felix Baumgartner's freefall jump from a stratospheric balloon at 120,000 feet provided valuable medical and scientific research data for future pioneers. In his regular blog, professor Rhett Allain explains some of the kinematics of the jump. More

Physicists explore the thermodynamics of making fresh water
American Physical Society    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Many places on the planet lack freshwater but have plenty of saltwater. One method for making potable fresh water from saltwater is electrochemical separation, i.e., placing electrodes in a vat of water, applying a potential difference to them, where upon the ions will be adsorbed into the electrodes. This of course requires energy.

In an energetically converse process, energy is extracted from an electrochemical cell by changing the salt content of the solution by continuously introducing fresh water thus keeping constant the stored charge in the electrodes. Due to the concentration change, the cell voltage rises, therefore increasing the stored energy. The surplus energy is then extracted by discharging the cell.

Understanding these processes at the microscopic level can reap huge dividends when it is scaled up to industrial sizes. A team of physicists in Italy have reported in Physical Review Letters a performance equation that connects these two different concepts, i.e., the dependence of the voltage on bulk salt concentration and the salt adsorption upon charging an electrochemical cell. Their equation demonstrates that an electrode setup having good performance for the freshwater producing process should also work for the energy producing process and vice versa.

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

Carbon dioxide enhances fragility of ice crystals
Environmental Research Web    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A team of researchers at MIT has performed molecular dynamics simulations using a first-principles force field to study the role of carbon dioxide in the fracture of hexagonal ice (the most common form of natural snow and ice on Earth). With an initial nonequilibrium geometry that included an imposed imperfection (crack), the team examined the fracture toughness and critical strain of ice as the number of carbon dioxide molecules at the crack tip is increased. The results, reported in Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics clearly show that the effect of carbon dioxide on ice fracture is more than creating vacancies in the ice crystal. Carbon dioxide molecules affect the bonds between water molecules at the crack tip and decrease their strength by altering the dissociation energy of hydrogen bonds. Increasing temperature and carbon dioxide concentration lead to a decreasing surface energy, which qualitatively agrees with the observation of the cause of deglaciation. More

Physics World focuses on the next generation of big science physics facilities
Institute of Physics    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A special focus issue of Physics World examines the challenges of building the next generation of "big-science" physics facilities. A whole host of projects is set to come online or inch nearer towards completion over the next decade, including ITER experimental fusion reactor in Cadarache, France, as well as at the European Spallation Source in Lund, Sweden. Not only that, the Square Kilometer Array, which is to be split between Australia/New Zealand and Africa, is closer to becoming reality. Physicists are planning either further ahead, including a successor to CERN's Large Hadron Collider, a muon collider, as well as an electron-ion collider that would allow physicists to study gluons in unprecedented detail. More

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ALMA observations reveal death spiral of old star
Ars Technica    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
As stars evolve to red giants they swell to a huge size and shed much of the gas in their outer layers. This is one process that seeds the galaxy with dust and heavy elements for the next generation of stars and planets. New observations of the giant red star R Sculptoris, reported in Nature, have revealed both a fascinating spiral structure in the ejected gas. In addition, the astronomers discovered that nearly three times the expected mass has been jettisoned into space. The operating wavelengths combined with the better sensitivity of ALMA allowed astronomers to see find structure inside the gas including nonuniform material distribution, a winding spiral pattern, and even more gas than what was previously observed. From the spiral structure, the astronomers have concluded that the star has or had an unseen companion that shaped the gas it ejected. Moreover, the detailed interior structure will allow astronomers to construct better models of how the death processes of red giants, e.g., thermal pulses, distribute gas into interstellar space. 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

New coherent X-ray diffraction strain imaging observes thin films without damaging them
Argonne National Lab    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The theoretical and experimental framework of a new coherent diffraction strain imaging approach has been reported in Nano Letters by researchers at the Argonne National and IBM. This new technique rests upon nanofocused X-ray Bragg projection ptychography, which is a technique that solves the diffraction-pattern phase problem by interfering adjacent Bragg reflections coherently. The technique is capable of imaging lattice distortions in thin films nondestructively at spatial resolutions of <20 nm using coherent nanofocused hard X-rays. In the test system to demonstrate the concept, the researchers measured the lattice strain in an epitaxially grown semiconductor. More

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.

Gravitational lenses suggest big collisions make galaxies denser
EurekAlert    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Using gravitational lenses, a team of astronomers has discovered that the centers of the biggest galaxies are growing denser. They conclude that this is evidence of repeated collisions and mergers with massive galaxies as opposed to collisions with smaller galaxies. According the lead author of the Astrophysical Journal paper, "The last 6 billion years, the matter that makes up massive elliptical galaxies is getting more concentrated toward the centers of those galaxies. This is evidence that big galaxies are crashing into other big galaxies to make even bigger galaxies."

Previous simulations have shown that when a small galaxy merges with a larger one, the pattern is different. The smaller galaxy is ripped apart by gravity from the larger galaxy, and stars from the smaller galaxy remain near the outskirts — not the center — of the larger galaxy. In fact, the simulation showed that collisions between large galaxies are the only galaxy mergers that lead, over time, to increased mass density on the center of massive elliptical galaxies.

On the origin of carbon-12, life's most crucial isotope
Big Ten Science    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A team of nuclear physicists at Michigan State University has gained new insight into the triple-alpha process, an important nuclear reaction that gave rise to the formation of carbon-12, one of the most abundant, and crucial, isotopes in the universe. Previous models had considered the process by which stars create carbon to be a two-step process. The problem is that two-body models predicted that red giants could not exist, though they most certainly do exist. The current work, reported in Physical Review Letters, combines the Faddeev hyperspherical harmonics and the R-matrix method while paying particular attention to long-range effects caused by the pairwise Coulomb interactions to obtain a full solution to the three-body α+α+α scattering problem. In this new model, red giants are predicted to exist, and the new reaction rate agrees with the compilation of nuclear astrophysics reaction rates. More

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UK students pursuing physics degrees minimally deterred by increasing fees
Institute of Physics via    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A new report, "Gravitating towards physics: How will higher fees affect the choices of prospective physics students?," uses secondary data, focus groups and a survey, involving more than 500 applicants, to understand better the potential implications of the new funding model. The report finds that physics students are significantly more likely than the average student to say that cost will not have any effect on their decision about whether to go to university; 39 percent of the physics sample in contrast to 29 percent of the U.K. average for all subjects. "While the report does throw up some concerns — particularly in relation to diversity — we're delighted to find physics in rude health," says Professor Paul Hardaker, chief executive at the Institute of Physics, which undertook the study. The report concludes that those who choose to study physics believe they will be positively received by future employers as a physics degree proves their level of intelligence, mathematical skills and the ability to work in a team. 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

National Society of Black Physicists jobs board postings
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Tenure Track Faculty Position in Experimental Particle Physics
National Radio Astronomy Observatory Jansky Fellowship Program
Faculty Postiions in Physics UC Berkeley
Experimental Particle Physics Faculty
Cornell University Tenure Track Assistant Professor in Experimental Physics
Faculty Positions in Science, Technology and Innovation
AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow
Tenure-track faculty position in physics at Middlebury College
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 in Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences Tenure-Track Faculty Position for Planetary Science

Latest research from Quantum Electronics
IOP Publishing    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Analysis of the efficiency of using 1265-nm cw laser radiation for initiating oxidative stress in the tissue of a solid malignant tumor

Numerical investigation of the effect of the temporal pulse shape on modification of fused silica by femtosecond pulses

Supercontinuum generation in thulium-doped fibers

Direct experimental measurement of SRS-induced spectral tilt in multichannel multispan communication systems

New regime of single-pulse lasing in fibre lasers with mode locking by nonlinear polarisation evolution

Latest research from Progress in Nuclear Energy
Elsevier    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Fusion energy conversion in magnetically confined plasma reactors

Microstructural examination of reactor pressure vessel steels by positron annihilation point of view

Review of the development of the transportation, aging, and disposal waste disposal system for the proposed Yucca Mountain geologic repository

High Level Waste management in Asia: R&D perspectives

Heat transfer of pulsating turbulent pipe flow in rolling motion

Improvement of LWR thermal margins by introducing thorium

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