A Rocketry Revolution?

•January 27, 2017 • Leave a Comment


“Nearly a century after it was theorized, Harvard scientists report they have succeeded in creating the rarest material on the planet, which could eventually develop into one of its most valuable.

Thomas D. Cabot Professor of the Natural Sciences Isaac Silvera and postdoctoral fellow Ranga Dias have long sought the material, called atomic metallic hydrogen. In addition to helping scientists answer some fundamental questions about the nature of matter, the material is theorized to have a wide range of applications, including as a room-temperature superconductor. Their research is described in a paper published today in Science.

‘This is the Holy Grail of high-pressure physics,’ Silvera said of the quest to find the material. ‘It’s the first-ever sample of metallic hydrogen on Earth, so when you’re looking at it, you’re looking at something that’s never existed before.'”

Advance in high-pressure physics – Harvard Gazette

It’s just a(nother) phase

•January 11, 2017 • Leave a Comment


“Water is simple enough, but not too simple. This means that one possibility for explaining the apparent extra phase of water is that it behaves a little bit like a liquid crystal. The hydrogen bonds between molecules keep some order at low temperatures, but eventually could take a second, less-ordered liquid phase at higher temperatures. This could explain the kinks observed by the researchers in their data.

If confirmed, the authors’ findings could have many applications. For example, if changes in the environment (such as temperature) cause changes in a substance’s physical properties, then this can potentially be used for sensing applications. Perhaps more fundamentally, biological systems are mostly made of water. How biological molecules (such as proteins) interact with each other likely depends on the specific manner in which water molecules arrange to form a liquid phase. Understanding how water molecules arrange themselves on average at different temperatures could shed light on the workings of how they interact in biological systems.”

Scientists Find That Water Might Exist in a Whole New State – Smithsonian magazine 

Flipping [on] the Light Fantastic

•January 5, 2017 • Leave a Comment


“‘We can take the whole, intact protein, just the way nature made it, and stick this little knob on it that allows us to turn it on and off with light,’ said Hahn, Thurman Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology and a UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center member. ‘It’s like a switch.’

The switch that Hahn, Dokholyan and colleagues developed is versatile and fast – they can toggle a protein on or off as fast as they can toggle their light. By changing the intensity of light, they can also control how much of the protein is activated or inactivated. And by controlling the timing of irradiation, they can control exactly how long proteins are activated at different points in the cell…”

Scientists use light to control the logic networks of a cell – Phys.org

2016 didn’t totally suck…

•December 22, 2016 • Leave a Comment


“The well-known paradox presents the idea of a cat in a box that may be simultaneously alive and dead. The scenario was designed to illustrate some principles of the weird world of quantum physics. It is an example of quantum superposition, where particles can be in two different states at once. A US-French team created two microwave cavities (the boxes), while the cats were represented by large ensembles of photons. In a twist to the tale, the team showed that the ‘cat’ can be in two separate locations at the same time.”

‘Dead or alive’ cat in physics top 10 – BBC News

Avian GPS

•December 7, 2016 • Leave a Comment


“‘We think they are using quantum mechanics to navigate,’ said Daniel Kattnig, a researcher in the chemistry department at Oxford University. Kattnig works in a lab that studies radical pairs — a phenomenon in which atoms acquire extra electrons that are ‘entangled’ with one another, each affecting the other’s motion even though they’re separated by space…”

Why don’t birds get lost? They may have mastered quantum mechanics. – The Washington Post


Inflation vs. Light Speed Variation

•November 28, 2016 • Leave a Comment

lightspeed“Magueijo and Afshordi’s theory does away with inflation and replaces it with a variable speed of light. According to their calculations, the heat of universe in its first moments was so intense that light and other particles moved at infinite speed. Under these conditions, light reached the most distant pockets of the universe and made it look as uniform as we see it today. ‘In our theory, if you go back to the early universe, there’s a temperature when everything becomes faster. The speed of light goes to infinity and propagates much faster than gravity,’ Afshordi said. ‘It’s a phase transition in the same way that water turns into steam.'”


“No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.” – Albert Einstein

Theory challenging Einstein’s view on speed of light could soon be tested – The Guardian

Symmetries and the emergence of chimera states

•November 16, 2016 • Leave a Comment

“Order and disorder might seem dichotomous conditions of a functioning system, yet both states can, in fact, exist simultaneously and durably within a system of oscillators, in what’s called a chimera state. Taking its name from a composite creature in Greek mythology, this exotic state still holds a lot of mystery, but its fundamental nature offers potential in understanding governing dynamics across many scientific fields. A research team at the University of New Mexico has recently advanced this understanding with work that will be published this week in the journal Chaos…”

Chimera state: How synchrony and asynchrony co-exist – Phys.org