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Cutting ice with a nanowire
PhysOrg    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Researchers simulate how a weighted wire gradually slices down through a block of ice at the molecular level. Read the associated Physical Review Focus story. More

The Sun's magnetic field warps its environment
Physics World    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The Sun's extended magnetic field provides a vital shield for astronauts; without it they would be left exposed to potentially deadly cosmic rays entering in from outside the solar system. Now, a group of researchers in the U.K. and the U.S. offers an explanation of how this protective field is generated and sustained by violent processes at the surface of the Sun. The findings provide another insight into the solar magnetic field -- an incredibly complicated physical system. More

Green machine: Perfecting the plant way to power
NewScientist    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail
Take sunlight, add water, and there you have it: free energy. Plants have been doing this for quite some time, splitting water's hydrogen apart from its oxygen. Now scientists are close to  developing economically viable sun-powered water splitters, which could provide us with abundant quantities of clean-burning fuel. Read the associated Physical Review B article. More

Supersolidity flows back
Nature News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Supersolids -- bizarre quantum solids that flow effortlessly, as they have no friction -- have come back into the limelight. The first claim to have made one, in 2004, was cast into doubt in June this year. But backers of the supersolid interpretation are now poised to bounce back, with more definitive evidence of supersolid behaviour in a crystal of ultracold helium-4. Read the associated Physics Viewpoint article More

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String theory finally does something useful
Wired    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
String theory has long been touted as the best hope for a unified "theory of everything," bringing together the physics of the vanishingly small and the mindbendingly large, but no one has yet figured out how to test it. Now, physicists at Imperial College London and Stanford University have found a way to make string theory useful, not for a theory of everything, but for quantum entanglement. Read the associated Physical Review Letters article. More

Tube full of plasma creates solar eruption in the lab
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Explosive bursts normally seen only on the surface of the sun can now be captured in a 13-foot-long tube using lab-created plasmas and bursts of laser light. Physicists have created a scaled-down model of solar eruptions called coronal mass ejections, which can wreak havoc on satellites and create beautiful northern-light displays on Earth. The new experiments suggest these eruptions are set off when gushes of charged particles flow into twisted loops of magnetic field that extend from the sun's upper atmosphere. Read the associated Physical Review Letters article. More

Still no Earths, but getting closer
ScienceNews    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Only a few years ago, astronomers were thrilled if they found a star beyond the solar system harboring a single planet. Now they’re discovering more and more multiple-planet systems that may offer new clues about the formation of planets and their evolution. More

Second super-fast flip of Earth's poles found
NewScientist    Share    Share on
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Some 16 million years ago, north became south in a matter of years. Such fast flips are impossible, according to models of the Earth's core, but this is now the second time that evidence has been found. More

Physics of free kicks: The hidden advantage of long-distance soccer shots
Scientific American    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
When Brazilian defender Roberto Carlos struck a powerful free-kick from about 30 meters out in a 1997 international match against France, he could not have known that scientists would still be discussing his feat more than a dozen years later. Indeed, he could not even have known that the ball would improbably find the back of the net. But find the net it did, swinging well wide of a wall of French defenders, hooking viciously to the left, and glancing off the inside of the goalpost. The French goalkeeper could only turn and watch in apparent disbelief as the ball came to rest in his goal. More


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