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Apr 21, 2024

Unlocking the Secrets of Space Chemistry With Cold Coulomb Crystals

Posted by in categories: chemistry, particle physics, space travel

Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have developed experiments to replicate the chemical reactions of the Interstellar Medium, using techniques like laser cooling and mass spectrometry to observe interactions between ions and molecules.

While it may not look like it, the interstellar space between stars is far from empty. Atoms, ions, molecules, and more reside in this ethereal environment known as the Interstellar Medium (ISM). The ISM has fascinated scientists for decades, as at least 200 unique molecules form in its cold, low-pressure environment. It’s a subject that ties together the fields of chemistry, physics, and astronomy, as scientists from each field work to determine what types of chemical reactions happen there.

Now, in the recently published cover article of the Journal of Physical Chemistry A, JILA Fellow and University of Colorado Boulder Physics Professor Heather Lewandowski and former JILA graduate student Olivia Krohn highlight their work to mimic ISM conditions by using Coulomb crystals, a cold pseudo-crystalline structure, to watch ions and neutral molecules interact with each other.

Apr 21, 2024

How Tetris Inspired an MIT Breakthrough in Nuclear Safety Technology

Posted by in categories: innovation, nuclear energy

The device, based on simple tetromino shapes, could determine the direction and distance of a radiation source, with fewer detector pixels.

The spread of radioactive isotopes from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan in 2011 and the ongoing threat of a possible release of radiation from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex in the Ukrainian war zone have underscored the need for effective and reliable ways of detecting and monitoring radioactive isotopes. Less dramatically, everyday operations of nuclear reactors, mining and processing of uranium into fuel rods, and the disposal of spent nuclear fuel also require monitoring of radioisotope release.

Innovative Sensor Design Inspired by “Tetris”

Apr 21, 2024

MIT Unlocks the Power of 2D Magnets for Future Computing

Posted by in categories: materials, robotics/AI

MIT scientists have tackled key obstacles to bringing 2D magnetic materials into practical use, setting the stage for the next generation of energy-efficient computers.

Globally, computation is booming at an unprecedented rate, fueled by the boons of artificial intelligence. With this, the staggering energy demand of the world’s computing infrastructure has become a major concern, and the development of computing devices that are far more energy-efficient is a leading challenge for the scientific community.

Continue reading “MIT Unlocks the Power of 2D Magnets for Future Computing” »

Apr 21, 2024

Precision Spectroscopy Now Possible Under Starved-Light Conditions

Posted by in categories: chemistry, particle physics, quantum physics

In a study recently published in Nature, researchers from the Max Born Institute in Berlin, Germany, and the Max-Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching have unveiled a new technique for deciphering the properties of matter with light, that can simultaneously detect and precisely quantify many substances with a high chemical selectivity.

Their technique interrogates the atoms and molecules in the ultraviolet spectral region at very feeble light levels. Using two optical frequency combs and a photon counter, the experiments open up exciting prospects for conducting dual-comb spectroscopy in low-light conditions and they pave the way for novel applications of photon-level diagnostics, such as precision spectroscopy of single atoms or molecules for fundamental tests of physics and ultraviolet photochemistry in the Earth’s atmosphere or from space telescopes.

Apr 21, 2024

Turbocharged Skyrmions: Accelerating Toward the Future of Computing

Posted by in categories: computing, materials

Scientists discovered that skyrmions, potential future bits for computer memory, can now move at speeds up to 900 m/s, a significant increase facilitated by the use of antiferromagnetic materials.

An international research team led by scientists from the CNRS[1] has discovered that the magnetic nanobubbles[2] known as skyrmions can be moved by electrical currents, attaining record speeds up to 900 m/s.

Anticipated as future bits in computer memory, these nanobubbles offer enhanced avenues for information processing in electronic devices. Their tiny size[3] provides great computing and information storage capacity, as well as low energy consumption.

Apr 21, 2024

New Research Reveals That Trauma Can Get “Under the Skin,” Weakening Your Muscles As You Age

Posted by in categories: life extension, neuroscience

A study from the University of Michigan has shown that traumatic experiences during childhood may get “under the skin” later in life, impairing the muscle function of people as they age.

The study examined the function of skeletal muscle of older adults paired with surveys of adverse events they had experienced in childhood. It found that people who experienced greater childhood adversity, reporting one or more adverse events, had poorer muscle metabolism later in life. The research, led by University of Michigan Institute for Social Research scientist Kate Duchowny, is published in Science Advances.

Duchowny and her co-authors used muscle tissue samples from people participating in the Study of Muscle, Mobility and Aging, or SOMMA. The study includes 879 participants over age 70 who donated muscle and fat samples as well as other biospecimens. The participants also were given a variety of questionnaires and physical and cognitive assessments, among other tests.

Apr 21, 2024

Rethinking Brain Design: Human Neurons Challenge Old Assumptions With Unique Wiring

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

New research led by Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and published in Science reveals that the wiring of nerve cells in the human neocortex differs significantly from that in mice. The study discovered that human neurons predominantly transmit signals in a unidirectional manner, whereas mouse neurons typically send signals in looping patterns. This structural difference may enhance the human brain’s ability to process information more efficiently and effectively. The findings hold potential implications for advancing artificial neural network technologies.

The neocortex, a critical structure for human intelligence, is less than five millimeters thick. There, in the outermost layer of the brain, 20 billion neurons process countless sensory perceptions, plan actions, and form the basis of our consciousness. How do these neurons process all this complex information? That largely depends on how they are “wired” to each other.

Apr 21, 2024

A Groundbreaking New Principle — Korean Researchers Uncover Revolutionary Phenomenon in Liquid Crystals

Posted by in categories: innovation, robotics/AI

A research group from the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), led by Professor Jonwoo Jeong of the Department of Physics, has recently discovered a groundbreaking principle of motion at the microscopic scale. Their findings reveal that objects can achieve directed movement simply by periodically changing their sizes within a liquid crystal medium. This innovative discovery holds significant potential for numerous fields of research and could lead to the development of miniature robots in the future.

In their research, the team observed that air bubbles within the liquid crystal could move in one direction by altering their sizes periodically, contrary to the symmetrical growth or contraction typically seen in air bubbles in other mediums. By introducing air bubbles, comparable in size to a human hair, into the liquid crystal and manipulating the pressure, the researchers were able to demonstrate this extraordinary phenomenon.

Apr 21, 2024

Crucial Connection Completed: Laying the Foundation for the Quantum Internet

Posted by in categories: computing, finance, internet, quantum physics

Researchers have produced, stored, and retrieved quantum information for the first time, a critical step in quantum networking.

The ability to share quantum information is crucial for developing quantum networks for distributed computing and secure communication. Quantum computing will be useful for solving some important types of problems, such as optimizing financial risk, decrypting data, designing molecules, and studying the properties of materials.

“Interfacing two key devices together is a crucial step forward in allowing quantum networking, and we are really excited to be the first team to have been able to demonstrate this.” —

Apr 21, 2024

How Stellar Magnetism Is Reshaping Our View of Distant Worlds

Posted by in category: space

From the brightness variations of its host star, an exoplanet ’s size and other properties can be determined. In order to avoid mistakes, the star’s magnetic field is decisive.

700 light years away from Earth in the constellation Virgo, the planet WASP-39b orbits the star WASP-39. The gas giant, which takes little more than four days to complete one orbit, is one of the best-studied exoplanets.

Shortly after its commissioning in July 2022, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope turned its high-precision gaze on the distant planet. The data revealed evidence of large quantities of water vapor, of methane and even, for the first time, of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of WASP-39b. A minor sensation!

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