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The votes have been counted and in this episode of the Physics World Weekly podcast we can finally reveal what is the greatest element of them all. After three well-fought group contests, silicon, carbon and iron qualified for the grand final, in which they did battle on this podcast last week. Over the past seven days, you have been given the chance to vote for a winner on Twitter, so listen to the podcast to find out the results.

Also in the podcast, the epidemiologist Richard Wakeford is in conversation with Physics World’s James Dacey about the challenges of determining the public health risks relating to radiation. High-profile events such as the 1986 accident at Chernobyl show that exposure to high doses can bring about fast and lethal outcomes. But the impacts becomes much less certain when it involves low to intermediate levels of radiation. Find out more in this extended Q&A with Wakeford published earlier this week.

Finally, Hamish Johnston and Matin Durrani ask whether a metallic form of hydrogen has been produced in a lab for the first time. That is the claim of a research group in France that have used a diamond anvil cell to squeeze hydrogen to incredibly high pressure. Others in the field, however, remain sceptical about the claims, which would represent a holy grail for condensed matter physics.

If you like what you hear then please subscribe via your chosen podcast app and we’re also available now to follow on Spotify.

The post Battle of the Elements winner revealed, Chernobyl revisited, and the quest for metallic hydrogen appeared first on Physics World.

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In this week’s Physics World Weekly, we reveal the element that will join carbon and silicon in the grand final of our Battle of the Elements. Over the past few weeks, Physics World editors have been stating the case for what they believe to be the greatest element of them all. Last week, iron did battle with nitrogen and lithium and we asked you to vote for your favourite via a Twitter poll. Listen to the podcast to see which of those elements make it through to the final then pop over to our Twitter page to vote for the overall winner.

Also in this week’s podcast, Physics World’s materials editor Anna Demming reports from the Japanese embassy in London where she discovered how machine learning is helping materials research. Then we’ve got a rather unusual story about how researchers at MIT are creating music from the properties of amino acids.

If you like what you hear then please subscribe via your chosen podcast app and we’re also available now to follow on Spotify.

The post Battle of the elements final showdown, machine learning and musical amino acids appeared first on Physics World.

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Excitement is mounting in our Battle of the Elements as we reach the third and final knockout round.

In the latest Physics World Weekly podcast, Margaret Harris argues the case for lithium, Liz Kalaugher explains why nitrogen should top the table and Hamish Johnston flies the flag for iron. After listening to the arguments, you can help us celebrate 2019 as the International Year of the Periodic Table by voting for your favourite out of these three in our latest Twitter poll.

We also hear from the theoretical physicist Jose D’Incao, who explains why he is part of a team that is doing ultracold-atom experiments on the International Space Station. Moving even further away from Earth, we chat about astrobiology and the scientific and philosophical implications of life on other planets.

The post Battle of the Elements round three, ultracold atoms in space, life on other planets appeared first on Physics World.

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In July the world will be celebrating 50 years since Apollo 11, when Neil Armstrong took those historic first steps on the Moon. In this episode of the Physics World Stories podcast, Andrew Glester looks back at some of the lesser known stories from the Apollo era.

Glester catches up with Kevin Fong, presenter of 13 Minutes to the Moon, the BBC podcast exploring the final dramatic 13-minute descent of the Apollo 11 mission, when everything came close to going badly wrong. Fong explains why the Apollo rockets’ guidance systems were so ground-breaking at the time. He also describes the extraordinary psychology of the Apollo astronauts who risked their lives in the pursuit of progress.

Next up, Alan Andres speaks about Chasing the Moon, the book he co-authored with Robert Stone that has been turned into a PBS documentary. He discusses the complex dual life lived by Wernher von Braun, Nazi scientist-turned NASA rocket pioneer. Andres also explains why James Webb, the American government official who oversaw NASA from 1961 to 1968, left such a lasting legacy on the US education system.

Glester also visits the Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK where he catches up with a trio of Apollo aficionados. Science presenter Dallas Campbell shares some of his favourite stories including the surprising modest origins of the US flag that was planted into the lunar surface. Astronomer Nick Howes speaks about the social value of the Apollo programme and why we need to recapture the era’s spirit of adventure. While geoscientist Louise Alexander explains why it is still worth analysing samples of lunar rock returned during the Apollo missions.

Finally, you can hear an archive interview with Apollo astronaut Alan Bean, who went to the Moon on Apollo 12. Since retiring, Bean developed a passion for painting and creates works inspired by his adventures in space. This pursuit brought Bean the freedom of expression he never had as an astronaut where speed of thought and precision were among the required skills.

In the July episode of Physics World Stories, Glester will look forward to some of the missions that will see humans (and machines) return to our nearest celestial neighbour. Also look out for the July issue of Physics World magazine, a special issue devoted to the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11.

The post 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 – hidden stories appeared first on Physics World.

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In the latest Physics World Weekly podcast, we present the second round in our Battle of the Elements contest. To celebrate 2019 as the International Year of the Periodic Table, Physics World editors have been arguing the cases for their favourite elements over the past few weeks. First up, Tami Freeman makes the case for technetium, Michael Banks argues that helium is no lightweight, and Anna Demming argues for carbon. To cast your vote for one of these elements visit our Twitter page and three more Physics World journalists will make the case for their element next week.

We also chat about how reactor physics is depicted in the television miniseries Chernobyl and learn why habitable zones for alien life could be smaller than previously thought.

The post Battle of the Elements round two, reliving the Chernobyl disaster, smaller habitable zones for alien life appeared first on Physics World.

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In the latest Physics World Weekly podcast, we present the opening round in our Battle of the Elements contest. To celebrate 2019 as the International Year of the Periodic Table, Physics World editors have been arguing the cases for their favourite elements over the past few weeks. First up, James Dacey makes the case for gold, Susan Curtis argues for silicon, and Matin Durrani throws his weight behind uranium. To cast your vote for one of these elements visit our Twitter page and three more Physics World journalists will make the case for their element next week.

Later in the podcast, we visit the University of Colorado to meet Nico Hernandez Charpak to talk about nanoimaging and latino science podcasting. As always, there’s the usual roundup of news, which this week has a special focus on biomaterial research – from polar bears’ transparent hair to the stealthy teeth of deep-sea dragonfish.

If you like what you hear then please subscribe via your chosen podcast app and we’re also available now to follow on Spotify.

The post Battle of the Elements round one, deep-sea dragonfish and Latino science podcasting appeared first on Physics World.

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In the latest Physics World Weekly podcast, Matin Durrani speaks about a feature about Albert Einstein’s time in Oxford in the 1930s. The celebrated physicist seduced – and then shocked – his audiences with his new thinking about how science works. Einstein in Oxford is the subject of a feature article by Andrew Robinson in the June issue of Physics World.

Elsewhere in the podcast we’re speaking about how labs can improve their eco credentials, the fears that the 5G network might hinder weather forecasting, and the curious case of the rising waters of Lake Ontario.

If you like what you hear then please subscribe via your chosen podcast app and we’re also available now to follow on Spotify.

The post Einstein in Oxford, sustainable labs and another 5G controversy appeared first on Physics World.

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In this episode of the Physics World Weekly podcast, we’re focussing on quantum physics and the contentious idea of cold fusion. First up, Anna Demming reports on her trip to the House of Commons in London, where she attended a special event about Quantum Technologies in Oxfordshire. Later in the show, we bring a discussion of some of the other research highlights making the headlines this week. That includes the news that Google and several research institutes in North America have reopened what they call the “cold case” of cold fusion. Despite the many failures to observe cold fusion, the scientists maintain that the case is not yet closed.

If you like what you hear then please subscribe via your chosen podcast app and we’re also available now to follow on Spotify.

The post Google reignites the cold fusion debate and Oxfordshire boasts its quantum credentials appeared first on Physics World.

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In this episode of the Physics World Weekly podcast, we begin by looking at the latest developments in the world of atomic clocks. It’s a timely topic as this Monday was World Metrology Day, a celebration of the field of measurement science. Hamish Johnston reports from JILA in Colorado where he caught up with Jun Ye who explains why even more accurate timekeepers will help us to test the frontiers of physics including general relativity and theories of dark matter.

Later in the podcast, we take a look at the emerging communications technology known as LiFi. Standing for light fidelity, LiFi is an alternative to WiFi that allows people to connect to the Internet via data encoded into light bulbs – perhaps even the the lights in your own home. We’re joined by “the father” of LiFi Harald Haas who’s in conversation with Physics World’s industry editor Margaret Harris about the journey of innovation from concept to commercial product. Haas, the co-founder and chief scientific officer  of Pure LiFi, reflects on the progress made since he caught the public imagination with 2011 TED talk, which included a live demonstration of a prototype LiFi system in action.

Forget Wi-Fi. Meet the new Li-Fi Internet | Harald Haas - YouTube

As always, we also bring you a roundup of some of the research highlights making the headlines this week, including an update on the LISA Pathfinder mission and the progress for a new type of radiotherapy treatment. If you like what you hear then please subscribe via your chosen podcast app and we’re also available now to follow on Spotify.

The post Improving the world’s most accurate clocks and connecting to the Internet via lights appeared first on Physics World.

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In the May edition of the Physics World Stories podcast, Andrew Glester reflects on the biggest astronomy story of the year – the first ever image of a black hole and its “shadow.” Unless you’ve been living in a black hole yourself, you will have seen the glowing donut/eye of Sauron/smiley face, which is actually the supermassive black hole at the centre of the M87 elliptical galaxy, some 55 million light-years from Earth. The image represents an incredible feat of science and engineering, produced from petabytes of data captured by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a network of individual radio telescopes and telescopic arrays scattered across the globe.

To find out more about the story behind the discovery, Glester catches up with three scientists from the EHT team who also hold positions at Radboud University in the Netherlands. First up is Monika Mościbrodzka, a member of EHT’s data analysis team who speaks about the significance of the discovery and the future prospects for the project. “Black holes are no longer just a theory. It’s now reality”, she says.

Global networking: the Event Horizon Telescope combines the signals of eight radio telescope observatories including the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile and the South Pole Telescope (SPT) in Antarctica. (Courtesy: Akiyama et al and ApJL)

Meanwhile, Freek Roelof explains how the group generated the image from all the raw radio wave data. He worked on data collection at the Submillimeter Telescope (SMT) on Mount Graham, Arizona. When not doing cutting edge science Roelof plays the guitar and you can hear some of his black-hole-inspired songs in the podcast.

Since the publication of the image, many people have asked the question: “Why did these astronomers look all the way to the M87 galaxy, when we have a black hole – Sagittarius A* – at the centre of our own galaxy?” The reason comes down to scale. Despite being a thousand times further away, the black hole at the centre of M87 is a whopping 0.7 billion solar masses, a thousand times more massive than Sagittarius A*.

But now that the EHT has proved its capability, you wouldn’t bet against the collaboration capturing an image our Sagittarius A* at some point. In the meantime, you can take a look at this virtual reality simulation based on best-fit models of observations of Sagittarius A*. Its creator, Jordy Davelaar, joins the podcast to explain how and why he created it.

If you enjoy what you hear, then you can subscribe to Physics World Stories via your chosen podcast host. Also check out our other podcast Physics World Weekly, which brings you regular updates on the latest research developments in the physical sciences.

The post The story behind the first ever black hole image appeared first on Physics World.

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