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  • News in Brief

    LIGO and Virgo probably spotted the first black hole swallowing up a neutron star

    Shudders in the cosmos have revealed what’s likely the sad end of a neutron star — getting swallowed by a black hole.

    If confirmed, it would be the first solid detection of this source of gravitational waves, revealing a type of cataclysm never before spotted. Researchers from the LIGO and Virgo gravitational wave observatories reported the candidate event, which was detected August 14,...

    08/15/2019 - 18:06 Astronomy, Physics
  • News

    Chemists have created and imaged a new form of carbon

    An elusive wreath of carbon has made its long-awaited debut.

    Scientists created a molecule called cyclocarbon and imaged its structure, describing the ring of 18 carbon atoms online August 15 in Science. The work unveils a new face of one of chemistry’s most celebrated elements.

    “It’s not every day that you make a new form of carbon,” says chemist Rik Tykwinski of the University of...

    08/15/2019 - 14:53 Chemistry, Physics
  • News

    New cloaking devices could hide objects from water waves and currents

    Invisibility cloaks are making a splash. Or rather, preventing splashes, perhaps.

    Although the science fiction idea of an invisibility cloak is a Harry Potter–style device that makes objects invisible to the eye, physicists have branched out. In addition to hiding objects from light waves under certain conditions (SN: 7/15/06, p. 42), researchers have made cloaking devices that can mask...

    08/15/2019 - 08:00 Physics
  • Rethink

    A proposed space telescope would use Earth’s atmosphere as a lens

    Telescopes keep getting bigger — and more expensive. But what if there were a better way?

    One astronomer has suggested a possible work-around: Turn the entire Earth into a telescope lens by using the planet’s atmosphere to bend and focus light.

    When light from stars hits Earth’s atmosphere, the light bends, or refracts. That bending concentrates the rays, focusing them in a region...

    08/09/2019 - 11:55 Astronomy, Physics
  • News

    Exploding stars scattered traces of iron over Antarctic snow

    Iron from outside the solar system has sprinkled down on Antarctica in recent years. Measurements of half a ton of snow turned up interstellar iron deposited within the last two decades, scientists report in a study accepted in Physical Review Letters. That iron comes from the explosions of massive stars, or supernovas, the team says.

    Within the snow, the researchers isolated 10 atoms of...

    08/09/2019 - 06:00 Physics, Astronomy
  • 50 years ago, Fermilab turned to bubbles

    Bubbles for Batavia —

    Use by visitors is expected to be especially large at the National Accelerator Laboratory now under construction at Batavia, Ill.... NAL staff and consultants agree that the laboratory will need a large bubble chamber, and it now plans to build one in collaboration with Brookhaven National Laboratory. — Science News. August 16, 1969 


    NAL was renamed...

    08/08/2019 - 08:00 Physics
  • Feature

    Scientists seek materials that defy friction at the atomic level

    It’s a moonless night. The wind howls outside. A door opens slowly, as if pushed by an invisible hand.


    That sound — a horror movie cliché — is the result of friction. A stealthier entrance calls for oiling the door’s hinges.

    Friction is everywhere — from a violinist bowing a string to children skidding down a slide. In the right situation, the ubiquitous force...

    08/01/2019 - 06:00 Physics, Materials
  • News in Brief

    Increased control over ions’ motions may help improve quantum computers

    Physicists are taking their quantum powers to the next level — the next energy level, that is.

    Researchers have controlled the motion of a trapped ion, an electrically charged atom, better than ever possible before, manipulating the energy level of its oscillation within an electromagnetic field. A single ion of beryllium, trapped by electromagnetic fields, was made to oscillate...

    07/22/2019 - 11:00 Physics
  • News

    Permanent liquid magnets have now been created in the lab

    The rules about what makes a good magnet may not be as rigid as scientists thought. Using a mixture containing magnetic nanoparticles, researchers have now created liquid droplets that behave like tiny bar magnets.  

    Magnets that generate persistent magnetic fields typically are composed of solids like iron, where the magnetic poles of densely packed atoms are all locked in the same...

    07/18/2019 - 14:00 Materials, Physics
  • News

    Scientists still can’t agree on the universe’s expansion rate

    SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — It’s one of the most talked-about issues in physics: Two measurements of the universe’s expansion rate disagree. Now, a technique that aimed to resolve the mismatch has produced a third estimate that falls between the previous two. So the controversy endures, scientists report in a study accepted in the Astrophysical Journal. 

    One measurement of how fast the...

    07/16/2019 - 14:01 Cosmology, Physics, Astronomy