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APS Physics - Weekly NewsBrief
May 12, 2009
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Little Ice Age Unlikely, Scientists Say
Some media reports and headlines recently suggested that the sun's present lack of activity could lead to another Little Ice Age, but many solar scientists say that's unlikely. Yes, the sun has been quiet lately, with very little magnetic activity on its surface; strong activity would be signified by dark patches called sunspots. Until recently, this was to be expected: The sun goes through roughly 11-year cycles, and 2008 was a predicted trough of activity. Full Article

Neutron Stars: Billions of Times Stronger Than Steel
from ScienceNOW
Talk about a hard body. New supercomputer simulations of the crusts of neutron stars--the rapidly spinning ashes left over from supernova explosions--reveal that they contain the densest and strongest material in the universe. So dense, in fact, that the gravity of the mountain-sized imperfections on the surfaces of these stars might actually jiggle spacetime itself. Full Article

Fermi Waffles on Dark Matter
from Discover Magazine
For the last few months there's been some excitement among particle-astrophysicists about intriguing results from the PAMELA satellite experiment and the ATIC balloon experiment. Full Article

Hunting the Mysterious Monopole
from NewScientist
They seem magical: magnets, every child's favorite science toy. Two otherwise ordinary lumps of metal draw inexorably closer, finally locking together with a satisfying snap. Yet turn one of them round and they show an entirely different, repulsive face: try as you might to make them, never the twain shall meet. Full Article

U.S. Radiation Dose has Doubled
from ScienceNews
Collectively, Americans now receive more than twice as much radiation each year as in the 1980s. That's according to a new tally by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements. Full Article

Introducing the Young Milky Ways
from ScienceNews
Astronomers have found more evidence that a class of galaxies that existed in the early universe represent the ancestors of spiral galaxies like the modern-day Milky Way. Full Article

Our Planet's Leaky Atmosphere
from Scientific American
Many of the gases that make up Earth's atmosphere and those of the other planets are slowly leaking into space. Hot gases, especially light ones, evaporate away; chemical reactions and particle collisions eject atoms and molecules and asteroids and comets occasionally blast out chunks of atmosphere. Full Article

For Super-Tough Spider Silk, Just Add Titanium
from NewScientist
Spider silk is already one of the toughest fibers known, and now it can be made even more resilient with an injection of metal. By infiltrating the protein structure of the silk, the metal makes each strand 10 times as hard to snap. Full Article

Using Dead Stars to Spot Gravitational Waves
from U.S. News & World Report
A bunch of dead stars could serve as ready-made recorders for gravitational waves subtle ripples in spacetime that if discovered would be the crowning achievement of Einstein's theory of general relativity, astronomers propose. Researchers have been spending billions of dollars to perfect sensitive, kilometer-long devices on the ground and launch even more sophisticated experiments in space to detect this cosmic symphony. Full Article

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