NASA demands new designs for cost-hit Mars Sample Return mission
Physics World
by No Author
7h ago
NASA is seeking alternative designs for its Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission, which is meant to bring back soil and rocks gathered by the agency’s Perseverance rover. But with the MSR beset by cost hikes and delays, NASA concedes that the current design is “too expensive” and that its aim of returning material by 2040 is “unacceptably too long”. A partnership between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), the MSR is designed to return samples collected by Perseverance since 2021 at the Jezera crater on Mars. The material, once back on Earth, will boost our understanding of the red planet’s ..read more
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Local twist angles in graphene come into view
Physics World
by Isabelle Dumé
7h ago
Stacking layers of two-dimensional materials on top of each other and varying the twist angle between them massively alters their electronic properties. The trick is to get the twist angle just right, and to know when you’ve done so. Researchers in China have now developed a technique that helps with the second part of this challenge. By allowing scientists to directly visualize the variations in local twist angles, the new technique shed light on the electronic structure of twisted materials and accelerate the development of devices that exploit their properties. Graphene (a 2D form of carbon ..read more
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Quantum Barkhausen noise detected for the first time
Physics World
by Isabelle Dumé
12h ago
Researchers in the US and Canada have detected an effect known as quantum Barkhausen noise for the first time. The effect, which comes about thanks to the cooperative quantum tunnelling of a huge number of magnetic spins, may be the largest macroscopic quantum phenomena yet observed in the laboratory. In the presence of a magnetic field, electron spins (or magnetic moments) in a ferromagnetic material all line up in the same direction – but not all at once. Instead, alignment occurs piecemeal, with different regions, or domains, falling into line at different times. These domains influence eac ..read more
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Purpose-Led Publishing:  Antonia Seymour outlines the role of not-for-profit publishers
Physics World
by Hamish Johnston
1d ago
Purpose-Led Publishing is a coalition of three not-for-profit scientific publishers: IOP Publishing, AIP Publishing and the American Physical Society. The coalition launched earlier this year, and its members have promised that they will continue to reinvest 100% of their funds back into science. Members have also pledged to “publish only the content that genuinely adds to scientific knowledge,” and have also promised to “put research integrity ahead of profit”. This episode of the Physics World Weekly podcast features an interview with Antonia Seymour, who is chief executive of IOP Publishing ..read more
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US Electron-Ion Collider hits construction milestone
Physics World
by Michael Banks
1d ago
The US Department of Energy has given the green light for the next stage of the Electron-Ion Collider (EIC). Known as “critical decision 3A”, the move allows officials to purchase “long-lead procurements” such as equipment, services and materials before assembling the collider can begin. The EIC, costing between $1.7bn and $2.8bn, will be built at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island, New York. This will involve the lab revamping its existing 3.8 km-long Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider accelerator complex that collides heavy nuclei such as gold and copper to produce a quark–gluon plas ..read more
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Peter Higgs: the story behind his interview with Physics World
Physics World
by Matin Durrani
2d ago
I can’t really claim to have known the Nobel-prize-winning physicist Peter Higgs, but after the sad news emerged last week that he had died on 8 April at the age of 94, I was immediately reminded of my one brush with him. An obituary in the Times described Higgs as “warm, funny and engaging” – and that was exactly the person I encountered when we met at the offices of IOP Publishing in Bristol, UK, in May 2012. Higgs, then 82, had come to Bristol to speak at the city’s Festival of Ideas and to open the “Dirac–Higgs Science Centre” at Cotham School, where he spent five years as a child whi ..read more
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Shrimp-inspired nanoclusters enable multifunctional artificial vision systems
Physics World
by No Author
2d ago
Bioinspired device Left: schematic of the mantis shrimp visual system. Right: artificial photoreceptor based on chiral silver nanoclusters and the organic semiconductor pentacene. (Courtesy: CC BY 4.0/Nat. Commun. 10.1038/s41467-024-46646-5) Advances in artificial intelligence and autonomous systems have triggered increasing interest in artificial vision systems (AVSs) in recent years. Artificial vision allows machines to “see”, interpret and react to the world around them, much like humans do when we respond to a situation that we can see changing – a car braking in front of us when driving ..read more
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Can thinking like a scientist help us tackle societal issues?
Physics World
by No Author
2d ago
Mind over matter How can the thinking tools used by scientists to evaluate research help us make better decisions in our everyday lives? (Courtesy: iStock) Everyone makes mistakes. Long before he shared the 2011 Nobel Prize for Physics for his role in demonstrating the accelerating expansion of the universe, Saul Perlmutter was a postdoc in a team of researchers who thought they had found the first evidence of an exoplanet. All their measurements pointed to a planet orbiting a pulsar – until they went back to the observatory the following year and realized that what they had measured was, in f ..read more
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Adjuvant breast radiotherapy: KUH unlocks the clinical upsides of tangential VMAT
Physics World
by No Author
3d ago
The radiation oncology department at Kuopio University Hospital (KUH) in eastern Finland has, for more than a decade, been treating the overwhelming majority (>98%) of its cancer patients, across diverse disease indications, using a proven combination of volumetric modulated-arc therapy (VMAT) plus daily low-dose cone-beam CT for image guidance. Zoom in a little further and it’s evident that an innovative variation on the VMAT theme – known as tangential VMAT (tVMAT) – is similarly established as the go-to treatment modality for adjuvant breast radiotherapy at KUH. That reliance on tVMAT, w ..read more
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Mauro Paternostro: a vision of the quantum landscape
Physics World
by Tushna Commissariat
3d ago
We are in the midst of a quantum renaissance, with researchers in academia and industry all vying to “win” the quantum computing race. The quantum marketplace is booming, with scores of companies, large and small alike, investing in this technology, backed by huge government funding across the globe. Mauro Paternostro, a quantum physicist at the University of Palermo and Queen’s University Belfast, is an expert in quantum information processing and quantum technology. Working on the foundations of the subject, his team is doing pioneering research in cavity optomechanics, quantum communication ..read more
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