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Archive for the ‘physics’ category: Page 8

Apr 20, 2019

Thermodynamic magic enables cooling without energy consumption

Posted by in categories: energy, physics

Physicists at the University of Zurich have developed an amazingly simple device that allows heat to flow temporarily from a cold to a warm object without an external power supply. Intriguingly, the process initially appears to contradict the fundamental laws of physics.

If you put a teapot of boiling water on the kitchen table, it will gradually cool down. However, its is not expected to fall below that of the table. It is precisely this everyday experience that illustrates one of the fundamental laws of physics—the second law of thermodynamics—which states that the entropy of a closed natural system must increase over time. Or, more simply put: Heat can flow by itself only from a warmer to a colder object, and not the other way round.

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Apr 19, 2019

Lightning Totally Does Strike Twice, And Now Scientists Know Why

Posted by in categories: climatology, physics

There’s something about the meandering streak of lightning that implies random chaos. Yet bolts from the blue not only hit the same places with regularity, but successive discharges often reuse the exact same channel.

It’s never been entirely clear how the path laid down by one bolt sticks around for repeat performances, but new research has discovered lingering pockets of charge in the wake of a single lightning strike, which could provide a map for more to follow.

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Apr 16, 2019

[1810.11490] Could Solar Radiation Pressure Explain ‘Oumuamua’s Peculiar Acceleration?

Posted by in categories: physics, space

The news we had finally found ripples in space-time reverberated around the world in 2015. Now it seems they might have been an illusion.

LIGO’s detectorsEnrico Sacchetti

THERE was never much doubt that we would observe gravitational waves sooner or later. This rhythmic squeezing and stretching of space and time is a natural consequence of one of science’s most well-established theories, Einstein’s general relativity. So when we built a machine capable of observing the waves, it seemed that it would be only a matter of time before a detection.

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Apr 16, 2019

The Quest for the Most Elusive Material in Physics

Posted by in categories: energy, physics

Zack Geballe spent months screwing together pairs of polished diamonds at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Geophysical Laboratory. Theory predicted that squeezed between the diamonds’ tips could be one of the most miraculous substances of modern physics—a material that, at near room temperature, could transport electricity without losing power. He just needed to get the samples to Argonne National Lab outside Chicago to heat them up with laser pulses.

When Argonne beam line scientist Yue Meng turned the lasers on, all four diamonds cracked in half.

“It was a total catastrophe,” Geballe told me while I was visiting him at the Geophysical Laboratory in Washington, DC, this year.

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Apr 16, 2019

Physicists spot the signatures of nuclear fusion in a table-top device

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, physics

Stable plasma conditions are generated in a Z-pinch device for the first time, offering a new route more compact fusion reactors.

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Apr 15, 2019

Gravitational echo phenomenon will become a key to the new physics, physicist says

Posted by in categories: cosmology, mathematics, neuroscience, physics

Gravitational echoes may be caused by the collision of two black holes, and may indicate that these objects have completely new physical properties. This conclusion was made by RUDN physicists after a series of mathematical calculations. The scientists state that if the existence of the echo phenomenon is confirmed, astrophysicists would have to reconsider their view of compact space objects. The results of the study were published in Physical Review D.

According to the theory of general relativity (GR), any massive object distorts space-time. A similar effect is observed when a heavy metal ball is placed on stretched elastic fabric. The heavier is the ball, the deeper is the depression in the fabric. Similarly, the higher the mass of an object, the more it distorts space-time. Black holes are among the heaviest objects in the universe, and therefore distort space-time the most. When two black holes collide, gravitational waves spread out from the site of collision. They can be compared to rings on the water, or sound waves, but there is one important peculiar feature. Gravitational waves do not propagate spatially—they are themselves the oscillations of space-time.

Gravitational waves from the collision of two black holes decay with time, but on their final stage, they can cause the so-called echo—additional wave scattering. It can be compared to regular acoustic echo. The existence of such gravitational echo has not been confirmed yet, and there are different opinions about its possible source. A RUDN physicist, together with colleagues from the Czech Republic and Russia, assumed that if the existence of gravitational echo is experimentally confirmed, it would be the beginning of the new physics adding to GR.

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Apr 15, 2019

DIY gravitational waves with ‘[email protected]

Posted by in categories: computing, cosmology, physics

Researchers hoping to better interpret data from the detection of gravitational waves generated by the collision of binary black holes are turning to the public for help.

West Virginia University assistant professor Zachariah Etienne is leading what will soon become a global volunteer computing effort. The public will be invited to lend their own computers to help the unlock the secrets contained in observed when smash together.

LIGO’s first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes in 2015 opened a new window on the universe, enabling scientists to observe cosmic events spanning billions of years and to better understand the makeup of the Universe. For many scientists, the discovery also fueled expansion of efforts to more thoroughly test the theories that help explain how the universe works—with a particular focus on inferring as much information as possible about the black holes prior to their .

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Apr 15, 2019

The discrete-time physics hiding inside our continuous-time world

Posted by in categories: evolution, finance, physics, space

Scientists believe that time is continuous, not discrete—roughly speaking, they believe that it does not progress in “chunks,” but rather “flows,” smoothly and continuously. So they often model the dynamics of physical systems as continuous-time “Markov processes,” named after mathematician Andrey Markov. Indeed, scientists have used these processes to investigate a range of real-world processes from folding proteins, to evolving ecosystems, to shifting financial markets, with astonishing success.

However, invariably a scientist can only observe the state of a system at discrete times, separated by some gap, rather than continually. For example, a stock market analyst might repeatedly observe how the state of the market at the beginning of one day is related to the state of the market at the beginning of the next day, building up a conditional probability distribution of what the state of the second day is given the state at the first day.

In a pair of papers, one appearing in this week’s Nature Communications and one appearing recently in the New Journal of Physics, physicists at the Santa Fe Institute and MIT have shown that in order for such two– dynamics over a set of “visible states” to arise from a continuous-time Markov process, that Markov process must actually unfold over a larger space, one that includes hidden states in addition to the visible ones. They further prove that the evolution between such a pair of times must proceed in a finite number of “hidden timesteps”, subdividing the interval between those two times. (Strictly speaking, this proof holds whenever that evolution from the earlier time to the later time is noise-free—see paper for technical details.)

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Apr 15, 2019

Travel through wormholes is possible, but slow

Posted by in categories: cosmology, physics, space travel

A Harvard physicist has shown that wormholes can exist: tunnels in curved space-time, connecting two distant places, through which travel is possible.

But don’t pack your bags for a trip to other side of the galaxy yet; although it’s theoretically possible, it’s not useful for humans to through, said the author of the study, Daniel Jafferis, from Harvard University, written in collaboration with Ping Gao, also from Harvard and Aron Wall from Stanford University.

“It takes longer to get through these wormholes than to go directly, so they are not very useful for ,” Jafferis said. He will present his findings at the 2019 American Physical Society April Meeting in Denver.

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Apr 14, 2019

Physicists Have Found an Entirely New Type of Superconductivity

Posted by in categories: materials, physics

One of the ultimate goals of modern physics is to unlock the power of superconductivity, where electricity flows with zero resistance at room temperature.

Progress has been slow, but in 2018, physicists have made an unexpected breakthrough. They discovered a superconductor that works in a way no one’s ever seen before — and it opens the door to a whole world of possibilities not considered until now.

In other words, they identified a brand new type of superconductivity.

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