Thursday, 14 December 2017

Mars upside down

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Which way is up in space? Planets are usually shown with the north pole at the top and the south pole at the bottom. In this remarkable image taken by ESA’s Mars Express, the Red Planet is seen with north at the bottom, and the equator at the top.


via ESA Space Science
http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Mars_Express/Mars_upside_down

Breaking data records bit by bit

Magnetic tapes, retrieved by robotic arms, are used for long-term storage (Image: Julian Ordan/CERN)

This year CERN’s data centre broke its own record, when it collected more data than ever before.

During October 2017, the data centre stored the colossal amount of 12.3 petabytes of data. To put this in context, one petabyte is equivalent to the storage capacity of around 15,000 64GB smartphones. Most of this data come from the Large Hadron Collider’s experiments, so this record is a direct result of the outstanding LHC performance, the rest is made up of data from other experiments and backups.

“For the last ten years, the data volume stored on tape at CERN has been growing at an almost exponential rate. By the end of June we had already passed a data storage milestone, with a total of 200 petabytes of data permanently archived on tape,” explains German Cancio, who leads the tape, archive & backups storage section in CERN’s IT department.

The CERN data centre is at the heart of the Organization’s infrastructure. Here data from every experiment at CERN is collected, the first stage in reconstructing that data is performed, and copies of all the experiments’ data are archived to long-term tape storage.

Most of the data collected at CERN will be stored forever, the physics data is so valuable that it will never be deleted and needs to be preserved for future generations of physicists.

“An important characteristic of the CERN data archive is its longevity,” Cancio adds. “Even after an experiment ends all recorded data has to remain available for at least 20 years, but usually longer. Some of the archive files produced by previous CERN experiments have been migrated across different hardware, software and media generations for over 30 years. For archives like CERN’s, that do not only preserve existing data but also continue to grow, our data preservation is particularly challenging.”

While tapes may sound like an outdated mode of storage, they are actually the most reliable and cost-effective technology for large-scale archiving of data, and have always been used in this field. One copy of data on a tape is considered much more reliable than the same copy on a disk.

CERN currently manages the largest scientific data archive in the High Energy Physics (HEP) domain and keeps innovating in data storage,” concludes Cancio.


via CERN: Updates for the general public
https://home.cern/about/updates/2017/12/breaking-data-records-bit-bit

Spanning disciplines in the search for life beyond Earth

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Following a gold rush of exoplanet discovery, the next step in the search for life is determining which of the known exoplanets are proper candidates for life -- and for this, a cross-disciplinary approach is essential.
via Science Daily
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Giant storms cause palpitations in Saturn's atmospheric heartbeat

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Immense northern storms on Saturn can disturb atmospheric patterns at the planet's equator, finds the international Cassini mission.
via Science Daily
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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Trilobites: The Great Red Spot Descends Deep Into Jupiter

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The iconic storm plunges 200 miles beneath the clouds of the solar system’s largest planet, and possibly much deeper, according to data from NASA’s Juno spacecraft.
via New York Times

Mars mission sheds light on habitability of distant planets

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Insights from NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, mission about the loss of the Red Planet's atmosphere can help scientists understand the habitability of rocky planets orbiting other stars.
via Science Daily
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Stellar nursery blooms into view

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The OmegaCAM camera on ESO's VLT Survey Telescope has captured this glittering view of the stellar nursery called Sharpless 29. Many astronomical phenomena can be seen in this giant image, including cosmic dust and gas clouds that reflect, absorb, and re-emit the light of hot young stars within the nebula.
via Science Daily
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Graphene for quantum computing

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Quantum computing is a new paradigm in computing that utilizes the benefits of quantum mechanics to enhance the computing experience. Quantum computers will no longer rely on binary digits (0 and 1 states), that computers have relied on since the early beginnings, but will instead use quantum bits, which can be in a superposition of states. Quantum bits, or qubits, have the advantage of being in many states at once, offering parallel computing advantages. For example, they have long been regarded as far superior to classical computers for applications in data encryption.

Although the concept of quantum computers has been known for several decades, practical realizations are still lacking. The main limiting factor has been the critical influence of the environment on a qubit. Most physical systems need to be in perfectly controlled conditions in order to remain in the superposition state, whereas any interaction (mechanical, thermal, or other) with the environment perturbs this state and ruins the qubit. Such perturbation is termed “decoherence” that has plagued many potential qubit systems.

Graphene, having spurred research into numerous novel directions, is naturally also considered as a candidate material host for qubits. For example, back in 2013, a team of researchers from MIT found that graphene can be made into a topological insulator – meaning that electrons with one spin direction move around the graphene edges clockwise, whereas those that have the opposite spin move counterclockwise. They made this happen by applying two magnetic fields: one perpendicular to the graphene sheet, to make the electrons flow at sheet edges only, and another parallel to the sheet, that separates the two spin contributions. Electron spin has long been considered a candidate qubit, because it is inherently a quantum system that is in a superposition of states. In graphene, the spins move along the sheet edges robustly, without much decoherence. Furthermore, the same research showed switching the spin selection on and off, an important feature of q-bit transistors. Nevertheless, extreme conditions such as strong magnetic fields and temperatures near absolute zero are required for this effect in graphene, raising questions about real-world applicability.

Image: Graphene spin qubit, MIT.

This year, the same group discovered a new kind of quantum state that appears when graphene is sandwiched between two superconductors. In this situation the electrons in graphene, formerly behaving as individual, scattering particles, instead pair up in “Andreev states” — a fundamental electronic configuration that allows a conventional, non-superconducting material to carry a “super-current,” an electric current that flows without dissipating energy. Andreev states, like the spin qubits, have very little decoherence, due to their paired configuration. These states are predicted to give rise to Majorana fermions, exotic particles that can be used for quantum computing. Although this experiment is also performed at low temperatures, it is an important proof-of-concept that should in the future open doors towards practical realizations of quantum computing.

Most recently, a group from EPFL in Switzerland devised a new way to use graphene in quantum electronics. In a layered capacitor structure, where graphene forms the capacitor parallel plates and boron nitride makes the insulating layer, quantum capacitance gives rise to novel nonlinear electronic phenomena. In this system small changes in, for example, the intensity of an incident laser beam, give rise to large changes in the measured capacitance of the device. The researchers calculate that one single incident photon could be enough to change qubit states, which is an ideal case of a qubit. Again, low temperatures are required for operation, however a significant advantage of this design is that there is no need for external magnetic fields, rendering this solution a step closer to practical applications.

To summarize, there are several different proposals to use graphene in quantum computers. From spin qubits, to Majorana fermions, to nonlinear capacitors, each has their own advantage. One common theme is that all these solutions are highly novel and innovative, and that the marriage of 2D materials and quantum computing is inevitable in the long run.


via Graphenea

Two tales of one galaxy

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Explore the stars in our galactic neighbour, the Large Magellanic Cloud, as viewed by ESA’s Gaia satellite
via ESA Space Science
http://sci.esa.int/gaia/59855

Explore CERN in the world of Minecraft

A Tinier Moon May Orbit the Tiny Distant Object That NASA Will Soon Visit

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When the New Horizons spacecraft that passed Pluto in 2015 completes its flyby of 2014 MU69 at the solar system’s edge, it may find a moon.
via New York Times

Engineers create artificial graphene in a nanofabricated semiconductor structure

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Experts at manipulating matter at the nanoscale have made an important breakthrough in physics and materials science. They have engineered "artificial graphene" by recreating, for the first time, the electronic structure of graphene in a semiconductor device.
via Science Daily

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Bright areas on Ceres suggest geologic activity

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If you could fly aboard NASA's Dawn spacecraft, the surface of dwarf planet Ceres would generally look quite dark, but with notable exceptions. These exceptions are the hundreds of bright areas that stand out in images Dawn has returned. Now, scientists have a better sense of how these reflective areas formed and changed over time -- processes indicative of an active, evolving world.
via Science Daily
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Hubble's Celestial Snow Globe


A Hubble Space Telescope View of Globular Cluster M79

It's beginning to look a lot like the holiday season in this NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of a blizzard of stars, which resembles a swirling snowstorm in a snow globe. The stars are residents of the globular star cluster Messier 79, or M79, located 41,000 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Lepus. The cluster is also known as NGC 1904.


via Hubble - News feed
http://hubblesite.org/news_release/news/2017-37

Unravelling the mysteries of extragalactic jets

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Researchers have mathematically examined plasma jets from supermassive black holes to determine why certain types of jets disintegrate into huge plumes.
via Science Daily
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Hubble's celestial snow globe

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It's beginning to look a lot like the holiday season in this Hubble Space Telescope image of a blizzard of stars, which resembles a swirling snowstorm in a snow globe. The stars are residents of the globular star cluster Messier 79 (also known as M79 or NGC 1904), located 41,000 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Lepus.
via Science Daily
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Electrical and chemical coupling between Saturn and its rings

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A Langmuir probe, flown to Saturn on the Cassini spacecraft, has made exciting discoveries in the atmosphere of the planet. They discovered that there is a strong coupling, both chemically and electrically, between the atmosphere of Saturn and its rings.
via Science Daily
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Life's building blocks observed in spacelike environment

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Where do the molecules required for life originate? It may be that small organic molecules first appeared on earth and were later combined into larger molecules, such as proteins and carbohydrates. But a second possibility is that they originated in space, possibly within our solar system. A new study shows that a number of small organic molecules can form in a cold, spacelike environment full of radiation.
via Science Daily
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Graphene spin transport takes a step forward towards applications

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Researchers have predicted and demonstrated a giant spin anisotropy in graphene, paving the way for new spintronic logic devices.
via Science Daily

Water without windows: Capturing water vapor inside an electron microscope

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Scientists were able to demonstrate another way of viewing biological samples at high resolution, explains a new report.
via Science Daily

Telescopes team up to study giant galaxy

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Astronomers have used two Australian radio telescopes and several optical telescopes to study complex mechanisms that are fuelling jets of material blasting away from a black hole 55 million times more massive than the Sun.
via Science Daily
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New CERN facility can help medical research into cancer

A Glimpse of Oumuamua

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Astronomers have discovered a passing rock from another star — the first interstellar asteroid.
via New York Times

Trump Announces That the Moon Is Astronauts’ Next Destination

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The presidential directive called for partnership with other nations and commercial companies but did not offer details about schedule or cost.
via New York Times

Trilobites: New Pacific Island Could Resemble Ancient Martian Volcanoes

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An explosive volcanic eruption in 2014 resulted in a new addition to the Tonga Islands. Its shifting landscape could help scientists studying Mars.
via New York Times

Monday, 11 December 2017

New Images of Iapetus

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The Cassini probe recently swept by for a really close look at Iapetus, one of Saturn's moons.
via New York Times

Hot stellar bubble

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Space Science Image of the Week: A massive star nearing the end of its life creates a dynamic bubble in space
via ESA Space Science
http://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2017/12/Crescent_nebula

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Mars' atmosphere well protected from the solar wind

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Despite the absence of a global Earth-like magnetic dipole, the Martian atmosphere is well protected from the effects of the solar wind on ion escape from the planet. New research shows this using measurements from the Swedish particle instrument ASPERA-3 on the Mars Express spacecraft.
via Science Daily
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Friday, 8 December 2017

Chemists synthesize narrow ribbons of graphene using only light and heat

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Chemists have developed a new method to produce graphene nanoribbons, which are widely viewed as a next-generation material that might one day power the world's electronic devices.
via Science Daily

Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration, ion transport into cells

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Nanometer-scale pores etched into layers of graphene can provide a simple model for the complex operation of ion channels, researchers have demonstrated.
via Science Daily

Crab cavities: colliding protons head-on

Galaxy growth in a massive halo in the first billion years of cosmic history

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Observations of two galaxies made with the National Science Foundation-funded Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) radio telescope suggest that large galaxies formed faster than scientists had previously thought.
via Science Daily
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Thursday, 7 December 2017

What We Learned in 2017

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Developments in science, medicine and health that we’re still thinking about at year’s end.
via New York Times

Black holes' magnetism surprisingly wimpy

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Black holes are famous for their muscle: an intense gravitational pull known to gobble up entire stars and launch streams of matter into space at almost the speed of light. It turns out the reality may not live up to the hype.
via Science Daily
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Hot and cold

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BepiColombo module withstands extreme temperatures in final space simulation
via ESA Space Science
http://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2017/12/Mercury_Transfer_Module_in_space_simulator

Wheat gets boost from purified nanotubes

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Researchers test the effects of carbon nanotubes on the growth of wheatgrass. While some showed no effect, purified single-walled nanotubes dispersed in water enhanced the plants' growth, while the same nanotubes in an organic solvent retarded their development.
via Science Daily

NASA's SuperTIGER balloon flies again to study heavy cosmic particles

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A science team in Antarctica is preparing to fly SuperTIGER, a balloon-borne instrument designed to collect heavy high-energy particles from beyond the solar system that constantly bombard Earth's atmosphere.
via Science Daily
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Wednesday, 6 December 2017

ALMA finds massive primordial galaxies swimming in vast ocean of dark matter

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New observations push back the epoch of massive-galaxy formation even further by identifying two giant galaxies seen when the universe was only 780 million years old, or about 5 percent its current age.
via Science Daily
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Clay minerals on Mars may have formed in primordial steam bath

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New research suggests that the bulk of clay minerals on Mars could have been formed as the planet's crust cooled and solidified, not by later interactions with water on the surface as has long been assumed.
via Science Daily
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New technique to reveal defect densities in graphene layers

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Scientists report the development of a method that determines the density of defects in two-dimensional nanomaterials due to measurements of spatial coherence of light that strike them.
via Science Daily

Catalyzing carbon dioxide

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A system that uses renewable electricity to electrochemically transform carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide -- a key commodity used in any number of industrial processes -- has now been developed by scientists.
via Science Daily

NASA telescope studies quirky comet 45P

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When comet 45P zipped past Earth early in 2017, researchers observing from NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility, or IRTF, in Hawai'i gave the long-time trekker a thorough astronomical checkup. The results help fill in crucial details about ices in Jupiter-family comets and reveal that quirky 45P doesn't quite match any comet studied so far.
via Science Daily
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Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Hybrid electrolyte enhances supercapacitance in vertical graphene nanosheets

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Supercapacitors can store more energy than and are preferable to batteries because they are able to charge faster, mainly due to the vertical graphene nanosheets that are larger and positioned closer together. Using VGNs as the material for supercapacitor electrodes offers advantages that can be enhanced depending on how the material is grown, treated and prepared to work with electrolytes.
via Science Daily

Quantum waltz of electrons hints at the next generation of chips

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Researchers have successfully measured some of the quantum properties of electrons in two-dimensional semiconductors. This work in the field of spintronics could one day lead to chips that are not only smaller but that also generate less heat.
via Science Daily

Two Super-Earths around red dwarf K2-18

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New research has revealed that a little-known exoplanet called K2-18b could well be a scaled-up version of Earth. Just as exciting, the same researchers also discovered for the first time that the planet has a neighbor.
via Science Daily
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WASP-18b has smothering stratosphere without water

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Scientists have found evidence that the oversized planet WASP-18b is wrapped in a smothering stratosphere loaded with carbon monoxide and devoid of water.
via Science Daily
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The bacterial community on the International Space Station resembles homes

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Microbiologists have analyzed swabs taken by astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) and compared them with samples from homes on earth as well as the Human Microbiome Project. This work, part of a nationwide citizen science project called Project MERCCURI, found that the microbial community in this unique habitat was very diverse and more closely resembled that of homes than of humans.
via Science Daily
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At the LHC, tomorrow is already here

Arantxa Maestre joins Graphenea from Intel

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Graphenea is happy to announce that Arantxa Maestre has joined Graphenea as a Research Scientist, moving from Intel Corporation. Arantxa obtained her degree in Physical Chemistry in 2007 from the University of Basque Country (UPV-EHU). From January 2006 to August 2007 she participated in an internship program at IMEC (Interuniversity microelectronic center) in Belgium, specialising in surface functionalization with self-assembled monolayers and electroless placement of gold nanoparticles, in the semiconductor field. In October 2007 she started her PhD in Chemistry at the Katholik University of Leuven (Belgium), graduating in June 2012. During this time she performed research in alternative semiconductor industry materials, in the field of CMOS technology BEOL and advanced copper interconnects. She joined Intel Europe and worked as an assignee based at IMEC until May 2013 when she moved to the Components Research Division at Intel research Headquarters in Oregon (USA). She joined Graphenea in October 2017 as a research scientist for high quality CVD graphene development.

Arantxa has joined our team of 24, most of them scientists, that makes sure we can meet all demands our customers may place on us and that also keeps Graphenea at the forefront of graphene science and technology, a key component of our business strategy.


via Graphenea

Monday, 4 December 2017

New nanowires are just a few atoms thick

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Subnanometer-scale channels in 2-D materials could point toward future electronics and solar cells, report investigators.
via Science Daily

Astronomer's map reveals location of mysterious fast-moving gas

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The most detailed map ever of clouds of high-velocity gas in the universe around us has now been developed by scientsits. The map covers the entire sky and shows curious clouds of neutral hydrogen gas that are moving at a different speed to the normal rotation of the Milky Way.
via Science Daily
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Farewell Saturn

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Space Science Image of the Week: Cassini’s last mosaic of Saturn and its rings
via ESA Space Science
http://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2017/11/Cassini_s_farewell_mosaic_of_Saturn

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Highly efficient photocatalyst capable of carbon dioxide recycling

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A research team from Korea has developed titanium dioxide-based photocatalyst with the highest efficiency in the world that converts carbon dioxide into methane. The result is expected to be applied to technologies to reduce and reuse carbon dioxide.
via Science Daily

Voyager 1 fires up thrusters after 37 years

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A set of thrusters aboard the Voyager 1 spacecraft successfully fired up Wednesday after 37 years without use. Since 2014, engineers have noticed that the thrusters Voyager 1 has been using to orient the spacecraft, called "attitude control thrusters," have been degrading.
via Science Daily
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Friday, 1 December 2017

Graphene nano 'tweezers' can grab individual biomolecules

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Researchers have found yet another remarkable use for the wonder material graphene -- tiny electronic 'tweezers' that can grab biomolecules floating in water with incredible efficiency. This capability could lead to a revolutionary handheld disease diagnostic system that could be run on a smart phone.
via Science Daily

Turbulence in astrophysical plasmas

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Researchers provides better explanations of the turbulent behavior of plasmas in space.
via Science Daily
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Blowing in the stellar wind: Scientists reduce the chances of life on exoplanets in so-called habitable zones

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A new article describes the detrimental impact of stellar wind on the atmosphere of exoplanets.
via Science Daily
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Thursday, 30 November 2017

Deducing the properties of a new form of diamond

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Earlier this year, amorphous diamond was synthesized for the first time using a technique involving high pressures, moderately high temperatures and a tiny amount of glassy carbon as starting material. A father-son team at Clemson University has now successfully calculated a number of basic physical properties for this new substance, including elastic constants and related quantities.
via Science Daily

How to produce the purest argon ever?

ARIA’s modules are being leak-tested at CERN before travelling to Sardinia, Italy. The top, bottom and one standard column module have now been lined up horizontally to test their alignment. (Image: J. Ordan/CERN)

Producing the purest argon ever made is no mean feat, in fact it needs a column 26 metres taller than the Eiffel Tower.

CERN is part of a project, called ARIA, to construct a 350-metre-tall distillation tower that will be used to purify liquid argon for scientific and, in a second phase, medical use.

The full tower, composed of 28 identical modules plus a top (condenser) and a bottom (re-boiler) special module, will be installed in a disused mine site in Sardinia, Italy.

The project is was initiated to supply the purest argon possible to the international dark matter experiment DarkSide at INFN’s Gran Sasso National Laboratories. DarkSide is a dual-phase liquid-argon time-projection chamber that aims to detect the possible passage of a dark matter particle in the form of a Weakly Interacting Massive Particle (WIMP) when it hits the argon nuclei contained in the detector. Since this WIMP-nuclei interaction is predicted to be extremely rare, the detector must contain only the purest argon possible, so as not to accidentally produce a spurious signal.

ARIA has been designed to produce this extra-pure argon. Atmospheric argon contains many “impurities” such as water, oxygen, krypton and argon-39, an isotope of argon, which are all sources of unwanted signals. Argon from underground sources is already depleted from the argon-39 isotope by a factor of 1400, but this is still not enough for dark-matter research. ARIA is designed to purify underground argon by a further factor of 100.

For more information, read this article.


via CERN: Updates for the general public
https://home.cern/about/updates/2017/11/how-produce-purest-argon-ever

A very special run for the LHCb experiment

The LHCb detector in open configuration. (Image: Anna Pantelia/CERN)

For the first time, the LHCb experiment at CERN has collected data simultaneously in collider and in fixed-target modes. With this, the LHCb special run is even more special.

The past two weeks have been devoted to special runs of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), at the end of the LHC 2017 proton run and before the winter shutdown. One run involved proton collisions at an energy of 5.02 TeV, mainly to set a reference to compare with lead-ion collision data. What was exceptional this year is that a tiny quantity of neon gas was injected into the beam pipe near the LHCb experiment’s interaction point. This allowed physicists to collect proton-neon at the same time as proton-proton collision data.

When (noble) gases are injected into the beam pipe to collide with protons, the LHCb experiment is in “fixed-target” mode, in contrast to the standard “collider” mode. But unlike traditional fixed target experiments, where the beam of accelerated particles is directed at a dense solid or liquid target, here LHC protons are colliding with a handful of neon nuclei injected near the collision point and floating in the beam pipe. These nuclei slightly pollute the almost perfect LHC vacuum, but the conditions they create – where pressure is in the order of 10-7 millibar – are still considered to be typical of ultra-high vacuum environments.

There are two main reasons to collect proton-gas collision data at the LHC. On one hand, these data help understand nuclear effects (i.e. depending on the type of nuclei involved in the collisions), affecting the production of specific types of particles (J/ψ and D0 mesons), whose suppressed production is considered to be the hallmark of the quark-gluon plasma. The quark-gluon plasma is the state in which the matter filling the universe a few millionths of a second after the Big Bang was , when protons and neutrons had not yet formed, composed of quarks not binding together and then free to move on their own.  

On the other hand, proton-neon interactions are important to also study cosmic rays – highly energetic particles, mostly protons, coming from outside the Solar System – when they collide with nuclei in the Earth’s atmosphere. Neon is one of the components of the Earth’s atmosphere and it is very similar in terms of nuclear size to the much more abundant nitrogen and oxygen.

This gas-injection technique was originally designed to measure the brightness of the accelerator's beams, but its potential was quickly recognised by the LHCb physicists and it is now also being used for dedicated physics measurements. In 2015 and 2016, the LHCb experiment already performed special proton-helium, proton-neon and proton-argon runs. In October this year, for eight hours only, the LHC accelerated and collided xenon nuclei, allowing the four large LHC experiments to record xenon-xenon collisions for the first time.

This recent 11-day proton-neon run will allow physicists to collect a dataset that is 100 times larger than all proton-neon collision data collected until now at the LHC, and the first results of the analyses are foreseen for next year.

Find out more on the LHCb website


via CERN: Updates for the general public
https://home.cern/about/updates/2017/11/very-special-run-lhcb-experiment

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Fast flowing heat in graphene heterostructures

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Scientists have recently succeeded in observing and following, in real-time, the way in which heat transport occurs in van der Waals stacks, which consist of graphene encapsulated by the dielectric two-dimensional material hexagonal BN (hBN).
via Science Daily