Sound waves break light transmission reciprocity
Physics World
by Isabelle Dumé
8h ago
Ordinarily, light transmits the same in both directions: if I can see you, you can see me. Now, however, researchers have created a device that uses travelling sound waves to break this symmetry, thereby reducing unwanted optical phenomena such as backscattering. The new device is the first to produce this beneficial effect for selective optical vortices, which are used in optical communications, and it could also have applications for optical tweezers and vortex-based lasers. Vortices are ubiquitous in nature – in gases, fluids, plasma and DNA, for example. In optical vortices, the wavefront ..read more
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Read all about it: how typography influences your understanding
Physics World
by Robert P Crease
9h ago
This January, something at Physics World changed. It took place right before our eyes, but practically no-one noticed. It concerns the body text of all articles in the print version of Physics World magazine, which had been set in a font called Dutch 801 for more than 15 years. Now, however, they are in Minion Pro. Headlines, standfirsts and captions, meanwhile, use a subtly different version of Franklin Gothic. How could such a radical and transparent makeover have been missed by our print readers? To find out, I sought out Robert Bringhurst, whom I consider the leading authority on typograph ..read more
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Search for gravitational waves set to resume following COVID-19 setbacks
Physics World
by No Author
3d ago
The LIGO–Virgo–KAGRA collaboration has announced that the search for gravitational waves will resume in May. The next observational run – the project’s fourth – was meant to start last year but was postponed due to a series of engineering delays resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The run will be the longest to date, operating for 18 months. Gravitational-wave detectors are L-shaped interferometers with arms several kilometres long. Laser beams are sent down each arm and then bounce off mirrors, called test masses. The beams are then recombined at the centre of the interferometer producing a ..read more
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Surprising heat transfer behaviour seen in new semiconductor under pressure
Physics World
by Isabelle Dumé
3d ago
The thermal conductivity of materials usually increases when they are subject to very high pressures. But researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have found that the opposite is true for boron arsenide – a newly discovered semiconductor that shows much promise for heat management applications and advanced electronics devices. The finding could change the way we think about heat transport under extreme conditions, such as those found in the Earth’s interior, where direct measurements are impossible. The researchers, led by Yongjie Hu, applied hydrostatic pressure to boro ..read more
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Quantum technologies benefit from the bottom-up approach of synthetic chemistry
Physics World
by Hamish Johnston
4d ago
This episode of the Physics World Weekly podcast features an interview with Danna Freedman, who uses synthetic chemistry to create quantum bits (qubits). Based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Freedman explains how this bottom-up approach allows her team to create quantum technologies on a molecular scale. Freedman explains why this approach could be used to create high-performance quantum sensors with a wide range of applications. These include biocompatible sensors that could someday be incorporated into medical devices. She also talks about another aspect of her research that f ..read more
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Ultrahigh-field MRI uncovers detailed structure of the brain’s cerebellum
Physics World
by Tami Freeman
4d ago
High-resolution imaging (A) Example FLASH images of the cerebellum and cerebrum; boxes indicate zoomed portions. (B) T2*-weighted magnitude images; the cortical depth was sampled from white matter (red) to the cerebrospinal fluid (yellow). (C) Phase image showing contrast in the cerebellar cortex (arrows). (D) T1 map. (Courtesy: CC BY 4.0/Radiology 10.1148/radiol.220989) The cerebellum, a small region of the brain located at the back of the head, is largely responsible for motor control, as well as being involved in behaviour and cognition. It also plays a role in various disease processes, su ..read more
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Graduate training powers offshore renewables sector
Physics World
by No Author
5d ago
As the climate crisis intensifies and fuel prices become increasingly volatile, renewable energy sources offer the precious hope of a secure and sustainable future. The sea waters surrounding the UK provide an abundant supply of both wind and marine power, which has driven rapid technical innovation in offshore energy systems as well as the emergence of a thriving industrial sector. As a result the UK is now one of the world’s largest markets for offshore wind, now accounting for up to 12% of the UK’s total energy use, and the country has become a global leader in the development of energy pla ..read more
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Doomsday Clock set at 90 seconds to midnight
Physics World
by Michael Banks
5d ago
“It is 90 seconds to midnight”. That is the latest conclusion from the science and security board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Yesterday, the 22-member group moved the Doomsday Clock – as a metaphor to indicate how near we are to a humanity-ending catastrophe – forward by 10 seconds. It is the first change since 2020 when it was 100 seconds to midnight. The latest move marks the closest point to midnight since the clock was set up in 1947 where it began at 23:53. The board said this is largely due to the war in Ukraine, which is now entering its second year. “Russia’s thinly veile ..read more
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The demise of an electronics giant: the men who killed General Electric
Physics World
by No Author
5d ago
When I think of the General Electric Company, more commonly known as GE, I think of the foundations of modern electronics; of the intellectual property war waged between the giants of electricity, Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison; and of the establishment that went on to electrify the US. GE is the company of jet engines, the X-ray machine and the light bulb, but that is just the beginning, as William Cohan explains in his detailed history of GE, Power Failure: the Rise and Fall of General Electric. Cohan, a financial writer and former GE employee, has given himself no easy task. Power Failure i ..read more
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Stimulating the brain at 40 Hz to treat Alzheimer’s disease
Physics World
by No Author
5d ago
What if exposure to 40 Hz light and sound could promote a healthier brain? That’s the hypothesis of scientists at The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT. Gamma band brain rhythms, especially those at 40 Hz, have been associated with large-scale brain network activity, working memory, sensory processing, spatial navigation, attention and more. Research has also shown altered 40 Hz rhythms in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy and schizophrenia, says Li-Huei Tsai, a professor at MIT and director of The Picower Institute. In the late 2000s, a collaboration including Tsai’s ..read more
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