Reviews & Previews
The 20th century will go down in history — it pretty much already has — as the century of the physicist. Physicists’ revolutionizing of the scientific world view with relativity and quantum mechanics might have been enough to warrant that conclusion. Future historians may emphasize even more, though, the role of physicists in war and government. Two such physicists, one born at the century’s...
Letters to the Editor
Saved by the Bell02/22/2017 - 12:43 Quantum Physics, Earth, Technology
Physicists used light from stars to perform a cosmic Bell test, which verified that quantum particles were indeed “spooky,” Emily Conover reported in “Quantum effect passes space test” (SN: 1/21/17, p. 12).
Reader George Mitchell took issue with Conover’s description of entangled photons before they are measured as having multiple polarizations at once. “We don’t know...
Platinum, one of the rarest and most expensive metals on Earth, may soon find itself out of a job. Known for its allure in engagement rings, platinum is also treasured for its ability to jump-start chemical reactions. It’s an excellent catalyst, able to turn standoffish molecules into fast friends. But Earth’s supply of the metal is limited, so scientists are trying to coax materials that aren...
News in Brief
BOSTON — A new imaging technique takes advantage of DNA’s natural ability to “blink” in response to stimulating light. The new approach will allow unprecedented views of genetic material and other cellular players. It’s the first method to resolve features smaller than 10 nanometers, biomedical engineer Vadim Backman said February 17 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the...
Helium — the recluse of the periodic table — is reluctant to react with other elements. But squeeze the element hard enough, and it will form a chemical compound with sodium, scientists report.
Helium, a noble gas, is one of the periodic table’s least reactive elements. Originally, the noble gases were believed incapable of forming any chemical compounds at all. But after scientists...
A tsunami’s immense wall of water may not be stoppable. But there may be a way to take the ferocious force of nature down a few notches, using a pair of counterwaves.
If released at the right moment, a type of sound wave known as an acoustic-gravity wave could subdue a tsunami, applied mathematician Usama Kadri of Cardiff University in Wales reports January 23 in Heliyon. These acoustic-...
Astronomers have caught a star exploding just hours after light from the eruption first reached Earth. Measurements of the blast’s light suggest that the star rapidly belched gas in the run-up to its demise. That would be surprising — most scientists think the first outward sign of a supernova is the explosion itself.
“Several years ago, to catch a supernova early would mean to detect it...
Short bouts of suffocating conditions can desolate swaths of seafloor for decades, new research suggests. That devastation could spread in the future, as rising temperatures and agricultural runoff enlarge oxygen-poor dead zones in the world’s oceans.
Monitoring sections of the Black Sea, researchers discovered that even days-long periods of low oxygen drove out animals and altered...
50 Years Ago
First germanium integrated circuits
Integrated circuits made of germanium instead of silicon have been reported … by researchers at International Business Machines Corp. Even though the experimental devices are about three times as large as the smallest silicon circuits, they reportedly offer faster overall switching speed. Germanium … has inherently greater mobility than silicon, which...
Letters to the Editor
Power struggle02/08/2017 - 12:42 Health, Chemistry
Ninety percent of people who believe that they are allergic to penicillin are not, Emily DeMarco reported in “Most penicillin allergies are off base” (SN: 12/24/16 & 1/7/17, p. 5). A recent study found that testing for penicillin allergies reduced by 34 percent the use of vancomycin, described in the story as “a powerful, last-resort antibiotic.”
Reader Robin Colgrove...