We’re sometimes accused here at Physics World of being hopelessly in awe of supposedly esoteric science such as the Higgs boson or quantum entanglement. In fact, as if to prove the point, the lead news story and the lead feature in the May issue of Physics World are on those very topics!
However, the new issue of the magazine – which you can read online and via our apps – also contains some very down-to-Earth physics in the form of an article that describes how special “wave bypass” structures could enable bridges to cope with potentially damaging vibrations. The most famous example of such destruction was the Tacoma Narrows Bridge – the falling-apart of which you can watch in our archive video clip on page 33 of the digital magazine.
Elsewhere in the issue, we look at the exciting potential of the brain-imaging technique of magnetoencephalography, while we have a great careers article this month outlining the benefits of a career as a scientific consultant.
Billed as the world’s smallest movie, an animated film made using single atoms has been released by scientists working at IBM’s Almaden Research Center in the US. Called A Boy and his Atom, the production was made using a scanning tunnelling microscope tip to push individual atoms around on a surface – a technology that was invented at IBM in 1981.
Just think how handy it would be if your mobile phone could transform into different shapes depending on what you are using it for – nice and compact if you want to, say, securely enter a password in a public space or a broad console when playing a video game. That vision has moved one step closer to reality thanks to a prototype ultra-flexible mobile device unveiled yesterday by a group of researchers from the Department of Computer Science at Bristol University in the UK.
An opened diamond anvil cell. The diamond is visible at the centre of the left disc. (Courtesy: ESRF/Blascha Faust)
By Ian Randall in New Zealand
We owe our existence to the liquid nature of the Earth’s outer core. Without its internal convection our planet would have no magnetic field to shield us and solar winds would rip away most of our atmosphere. Indeed, this is probably what happened to our neighbour Mars. Despite its importance, however, we don’t know that much about conditions within the core. This is why a recent high-pressure experiment is so important.
I have always felt a bit uncomfortable about the “heroic” view of science – the idea that the most significant progress depends on the work of individual geniuses. Unfortunately, this is the way in which many people view scientific history, with the contributions of lesser mortals dismissed and swept aside.
However, it is fair to say that some physicists do stand head and shoulders above all others – none more so than Abdus Salam, who was (and still is) Pakistan’s only Nobel prize-winner.
Now two Pakistani film producers, Omar Vandal and Zakir Thaver, are creating a feature-length documentary about Salam’s scientific contributions – but they need your help to finish the job.
The proliferation of online video in recent years has triggered tidal waves of content across the globe. As well as all the dancing cats and piano-playing dogs, it has brought new opportunities for journalists to tell stories in more visual and personal ways.
Part of the XENON100 experiment: does it agree with CDMS? (Courtesy: XENON)
By Hamish Johnston
A week or so ago the CDMS experiment in the US reported the detection of three possible dark-matter particles. While that might not sound like much, it is the best evidence yet that dark matter – mysterious stuff that appears to make up one quarter of the mass/energy of the universe – can be detected directly.
But as I said in an earlier blog entry, the detection further muddies the waters in terms of our understanding of exactly what dark matter is. Different experiments say very different things about its possible properties, and now a team of physicists in Denmark, the UK and Switzerland have uploaded a preprint on the arXiv server that tries to make sense of some of this speculation and contradiction.
It may have become a household name in recent years, but for many the Large Hadron Collider is still a mysterious behemoth lurking somewhere beneath Switzerland. Or is it France?
A new exhibition will seek to bring the technology and the sense of scientific discovery of the LHC to those who have not made the trip to the facility itself. Collider: step inside the world’s greatest experiment will open on 13 November at the Science Museum in London, and run for six months.
Are you suffering from particle-collider withdrawal symptoms now that the LHC has begun its long shutdown? If so, you will be pleased to learn that you can focus your attention elsewhere.
The International Linear Collider Collaboration has posted an updated version of its 2013 Technical Design Report on the arXiv preprint server. It’s a short and sweet overview of the collider’s design, including “detailed descriptions of the accelerator baseline design for a 500 GeV e+e llinear collider, the R&D program that has demonstrated its feasibility, the physics goals and expected sensitivities, and the description of the ILD and SiD detectors and their capabilities”.