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  • News

    A new test of water ripples supports the idea of quantum heat in a vacuum

    Empty space might feel hot to a traveler zipping through at a rapidly increasing clip — or so some physicists predict. And a new experiment provides a hint that they might be right.

    That idea, known as the Unruh effect, seems to be supported by an analogous effect that appears in a tank of rippling water. Patterns in the waves, when analyzed as if seen by an accelerating observer, appear...

    09/18/2017 - 07:00 Quantum Physics
  • Science Visualized

    Tiny ‘supraballs’ put a new spin on creating long-lasting color

    Tiny balls of melanin could someday paint the rainbow. They’re one of the key ingredients in a new way to craft a spectrum of structural colors — hues created when light interacts with special nanostructures.

    Structural colors are a longer-lasting alternative to chemical pigments, which lose all pizazz when they break down. Examples of durable hues abound in nature. For instance, many...

    09/15/2017 - 14:08 Materials
  • News

    Animal goo inspires better glue

    Finding a great glue is a sticky task — especially if you want it to attach to something as slick as the inside of the human body. Even the strongest human-made adhesives don’t work well on wet surfaces like tissues and organs. For surgeons closing internal incisions, that’s more than an annoyance. The right glue could hold wounds together as effectively as stitches and staples with less...

    09/15/2017 - 12:00 Animals, Materials, Biomedicine
  • News

    How to peel permanent marker off glass

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    Permanent markers aren’t so permanent after all. All that’s required to peel the ink from glass is the surface tension of water and a little patience, scientists report.

    When glass marked with permanent ink is slowly dipped in water, the writing lifts off the glass and floats intact atop the water. For the first time, scientists have now explained the physics behind...

    09/14/2017 - 07:00 Condensed Matter
  • News

    Minuscule jitters may hint at quantum collapse mechanism

    A tiny, shimmying cantilever wiggles a bit more than expected in a new experiment. The excess jiggling of the miniature, diving board–like structure might hint at why the strange rules of quantum mechanics don’t apply in the familiar, “classical” world. But that potential hint is still a long shot: Other sources of vibration are yet to be fully ruled out, so more experiments are needed.

    ...

    09/01/2017 - 11:05 Quantum Physics
  • News

    Tiny quantum storage device fits on a chip

    A newfangled data storage device, which takes up less than a millionth the amount of space of its predecessors, could be a key component of futuristic communication systems.

    Scientists fashioned a tiny crystal that stores snippets of quantum information — which unlike computer data “bits” that come only in 0s and 1s, can also exist as both 0 and 1 simultaneously. This crystal is the...

    08/31/2017 - 14:00 Technology, Quantum Physics
  • News

    Molecules face the big chill

    Molecules are seriously chilling out. Scientists report the first cooling of molecules below a previously impassable milestone. The result, in which scientists cooled molecules down to tens of millionths of a degree, is a step toward reaching the ultracold temperatures already achievable with atoms, researchers report August 28 in Nature Physics.

    Scientists regularly chill atoms to less...

    08/28/2017 - 12:41 Physics
  • How Bizarre

    Scientists create the most cubic form of ice crystals yet

    Cube-shaped ice is rare, at least at the microscopic level of the ice crystal. Now researchers have coaxed typically hexagonal 3-D ice crystals to form the most cubic ice ever created in the lab.

    Cubed ice crystals — which may exist naturally in cold, high-altitude clouds — could help improve scientists’ understanding of clouds and how they interact with Earth’s atmosphere and sunlight,...

    08/28/2017 - 07:00 Physics
  • News

    Rumors swirl that LIGO snagged gravitational waves from a neutron star collision

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    Speculation is running rampant about potential new discoveries of gravitational waves, just as the latest search wound down August 25.

    Publicly available logs from astronomical observatories indicate that several telescopes have been zeroing in on one particular region of the sky, potentially in response to a detection of ripples in spacetime by the Advanced Laser...

    08/25/2017 - 15:14 Astronomy, Physics
  • Letters to the Editor

    Inquiries about the moon's twilight zone, and more reader feedback

    Locked up

    Simulations suggest that heat from an infant Earth, the sun and the moon could have vaporized the moon’s metals into a thick atmosphere, Lisa Grossman reported in “Metallic air may have swaddled moon” (SN: 8/5/17, p. 7). One way to test the idea would be to look for a ring of extra sodium in rocks around the moon’s twilight zone, where sodium snow would have accumulated. This zone...

    08/23/2017 - 16:00 Astronomy, Microbiology, Physics