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  • Science Ticker

    Excitons' motions captured in images

    Quasiparticles called excitons transfer energy through materials such as solar cells, LEDs, semiconductor circuits and even plant cells. Now, that motion has been observed and captured in images, researchers report April 16 in ...
    04/16/2014 - 12:45 Quantum Physics
  • Gory Details

    How urine will get us to Mars

    Every day, you flush a liter or two of urine down the toilet. Unless you live in one of the dry places considering toilet-to-tap systems, you probably never consider drinking it.But if humans are ever going to get to Mars, we’re going to get there drinking our own pee. Now scientists have built a...
    04/11/2014 - 16:38 Chemistry
  • Context

    Robert Redford film foretold Shor’s quantum computing bombshell

    First of two partsLong before scientists were talking much about it, Robert Redford fans learned about the power of quantum computers.It was 1992. A goofy movie called Sneakers warned about the dangers of computers and the massive amounts of encrypted information they controlled. Redford and cohorts acquired a small box,...
    04/10/2014 - 13:00 Quantum Physics, History of Science
  • Science Ticker

    Small step taken for quantum communication

    In two separate experiments, a single atom in an optical cavity has strongly interacted with a photon from a faint light pulse and switch the photon’s state. The results are a step toward creating quantum networks that could be used in quantum computing...
    04/09/2014 - 13:07 Quantum Physics
  • Gory Details

    This is what happens when you pee in the pool

    Let’s just start with the premise that the next pool you dive into will contain pee. Because it probably will. There’s also probably going to be a wee bit of fecal matter, a dollop of human sweat and some guy’s skin cells floating around.Swimming pools are basically huge blue toilet bowls. We’ve all peed in them — be honest — and a new study...
    04/08/2014 - 13:12 Chemistry
  • Science Ticker

    Meet Big Bird, highest-energy neutrino ever detected

    Guest post by Andrew GrantSAVANNAH, Ga. — A speedy particle from beyond the solar system is the new record holder for the highest-energy neutrino ever detected, researchers from the IceCube experiment announced April 7 at a meeting of the American Physical Society.Buried under an Antarctic glacier, IceCube consists of thousands of detectors looking for flashes of...
    04/07/2014 - 17:30 Physics, Astronomy
  • Letters to the Editor


    Ancient genes persistStone Age interbreeding with Neandertals appears to have left its mark in humans’ genes. In “Neandertal hot spots highlighted in modern humans’ DNA” (SN: 3/8/14, p. 12), Bruce Bower reported that variants in genes...
    04/04/2014 - 15:30 Genetics, Microbes, Physics
  • Science Ticker

    U.S. marches to tick of new clock

    Guest post by Andrew GrantThe atomic clock NIST-F2 has launched as the country’s official civilian time and frequency standard, researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colo., announced at a press conference April 3. Now the world’s best standard-setting clock, NIST...
    04/03/2014 - 15:09 Quantum Physics, Technology
  • Science Ticker

    Oyster shells could inspire improved armor

    Making tiny indentations in the shells of windowpane oysters (Placuna placenta) has revealed how the protective layer keeps from crumbling, even after multiple hits. The shells are made of layered, diamond-shaped calcite crystals. When stressed, the atoms of the crystals at the impact point move a short distance, mirroring the pattern of the original crystal structure.The process spurs...
    03/30/2014 - 13:00 Materials
  • News

    Light filter lets rays through from only one direction

    Like a traffic cop directing cars, a layered stack of transparent materials permits light arriving from only a single direction to pass through. Such angle-sensitive filters could improve cameras and telescopes or allow solar cells to convert sunlight into energy more efficiently.People have created effective light filters for thousands of years. Stained glass, for instance, filters light by...
    03/28/2014 - 11:07 Materials, Physics