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PC screen saver leads to discovery of new star
FOX News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Astronomers announced the discovery of a rare type of pulsar, found with help from a most unusual source -- a screen saver. Chris and Helen Colvin, owners of the personal computer running the screen saver are participants in a project called Einstein@home, an experiment in distributed computing that uses the donated idle time from hundreds of thousands of home computers across the globe in lieu of more expensive supercomputers. More

Physicists investigate fractional electrons
PhysOrg    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
One of the many intriguing puzzles in physics is the strange behavior of the electron as it effectively breaks into two separate quasiparticles inside some materials. These quasiparticles, called spinons and chargons (or holons), carry the electron's spin and charge, respectively. In a new study, physicists  have investigated this phenomenon, called spin-charge separation, and have developed a model that unifies two previous theories to propose a more complete electron fractionalization process. Read the associated Physical Review Letters article. More

Fractals boost superconductivity
Physics World    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Fractal patterns are ubiquitous in nature from the shape of a galaxy to the structure of a snowflake. They may also lie behind the mysterious phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, according to a group of physicists in Europe who have observed the characteristic scale-invariant patterns in the structure of a superconducting copper oxide, using a new kind of X-ray microscopy. More

Cloud-talk decoded: Physics and lasers read honeycomb cloud pattern
Scientific American    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A thin, patchy cloud cover with clusters that seem to continuously form, dissipate and reemerge might not be just flowing at random. When these cloud fields appear over the ocean at least, their cycles and patterns are in fact quite regular, and new research explains how precipitation keeps an accumulation of these clouds knit closely together. Deciphering the surprisingly rigid order of these common, lacy clouds can go a long way toward creating more solid meteorological and climate models.

Electrons caught moving on the edge
Physics World    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Researchers in Germany and the U.S. have used flashes of laser light to follow the motion of valence electrons as they are excited and ejected from atoms of krypton. They say that their technique could lead to the control of chemical reactions by steering the motion of individual electrons, allowing, for instance, the speeding up of photosynthesis. More

Gamma rays from nova explosion surprise astronomers
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A team of astronomers has found that novae -- the relatively quiet death of certain kinds of stars -- can emit the highest-energy rays known to nature. It was not previously thought that novae, which come about for different reasons than the brighter supernovae, could give rise to these gamma rays. More

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Celestial wish list
Science News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Astronomers tasked with compiling a priority list of U.S. astronomy projects for the next decade are seeing red, and not just because of NASA's meager science budget. A National Research Council report released Aug. 13 ranks several telescopes observing the universe at infrared and at even longer, redder wavelengths among the highest-priority instruments to be developed between 2012 and 2021. More

Hawking: How humankind will survive the future
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Listen, people of Earth: Everything's going to be fine. All we have to do is survive another century or two without self-destructing as a species. Then we'll get off this rock, spread throughout space, and everything will be all right. More

Bernanke announcement leaves quake-like aftershocks
MinnPost    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Chairman Ben Bernanke unveiled the latest news from the Federal Reserve System board at 2:15 p.m. last Tuesday: short-term interest rates will remain unchanged, remaining low to help the economy recover. Following the announcement, a small financial earthquake struck U.S. financial markets. Physicists are finding that these sorts of financial disturbances have more in common with actual, geological earthquakes than previously realized. Read the associated Physical Review E paper. More

Could thermodynamic fluctuations have led to the origins of life?
PhysOrg    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Scientists are currently investigating several ways in which life could have arisen from non-living matter. Researchers are now proposing that molecules that exist on the brink of stability have an evolutionary advantage over both more and less stable molecules. The insight offers a potential route from evolving, but non-living, molecules to rudimentary life. Read the associated Physical Review Letters article. More


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