Speed-of-light experiments give baffling result at Cern

By Jason Palmer Science and technology reporter, BBC News

Puzzling results from Cern, home of the Large Hadron Collider, have confounded physicists because subatomic particles seem to have beaten the speed of light.

Neutrinos sent through the ground from Cern toward the Gran Sasso laboratory 732km away in Italy seemed to show up a tiny fraction of a second early.

The results - which threaten to upend a century of physics - were put online for scrutiny by other scientists.

In the meantime, the group says it is being very cautious about its claims.

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Rare Coupling of Magnetic and Electric Properties in a Single Material

New multiferroic mechanism could lead to next-generation memory and sensing devices

UPTON, NY — Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory have observed a new way that magnetic and electric properties — which have a long history of ignoring and counteracting each other — can coexist in a special class of metals. These materials, known as multiferroics, could serve as the basis for the next generation of faster and energy-efficient logic, memory, and sensing technology.

The researchers, who worked with colleagues at the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research in Germany, published their findings online in Physical Review Letters on July 25, 2011.

Ferromagnets are materials that display a permanent magnetic moment, or magnetic direction, similar to how a compass needle always points north. They assist in a variety of daily tasks, from sticking a reminder to the fridge door to storing information on a computer’s hard drive. Ferroelectrics are materials that display a permanent electric polarization — a set direction of charge — and respond to the application of an electric field by switching this direction. They are commonly used in applications like sonar, medical imaging, and sensors.

“In principle, the coupling of an ordered magnetic material with an ordered electric material could lead to very useful devices,” said Brookhaven physicist Stuart Wilkins, one of the paper’s authors. “For instance, one could imagine a device in which information is written by application of an electric field and read by detecting its magnetic state. This would make a faster and much more energy-efficient data storage device than is available today.”

But multiferroics — magnetic materials with north and south poles that can be reversed with an electric field — are rare in nature. Ferroelectricity and magnetism tend to be mutually exclusive and interact weakly with each other when they coexist.

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Scientists Untangle Tough Quantum Computing Knot

By Richard Adhikari


New research may provide the answers to overcoming one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of the development of quantum computing: quantum decoherence. The experiment used molecular magnets, which suppress extrinsic decoherence. Extrinsic decoherence was reduced to the point where it was no longer observable, said USC's Susumu Takahashi.

A team of scientists has achieved what might prove to be a breakthrough in quantum computing.

The group has managed to partially suppress quantum decoherence, one of the major obstacles to quantum computing, by using crystalline molecular magnets.

Decoherence, which is a much-debated topic, is believed to be the loss of information from a system into the environment that fixes a system into one state.

By doing so, decoherence negates quantum states, which exist because of the entanglement of multiple electrons and molecules.

Think of it this way: A fishing net, where all the strands are linked to each other by knots, is like a quantum state. Separating out a strand by cutting the knots binding it to other strands is what happens when decoherence sets in.

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Physicists at Fermilab Discover New Subatomic Particle

High-speed collisions at a giant atom smasher have produced what physicists say is a new particle, a heavier relative of the familiar neutron.

The particle is called the neutral Xi-sub-b. When it's formed in the Fermilab Tevatron particle accelerator in Batavia, Ill., the neutral Xi-sub-b lasts just a mere instant before decaying into lighter particles. Scientists at Fermilab uncover these ephemeral particles by racing particles around a 4-mile (6.3 km) ring at near light speed. When the particles collide, the outpouring of energy disintegrates them into other particles.

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AST gets a boost

Start-up receives $450,000 from investors

By Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel

A Milwaukee start-up that is developing tools to help researchers capture images of proteins in living cells has raised $450,000 from individual investors.

Aurora Spectral Technologies LLC is aiming to bring products to market that will help researchers and drug developers look more closely at proteins and better analyze them.

That could help researchers develop new drugs and diagnostic tests, and might eventually help provide more insight into cancer and other diseases, said Brian Thompson, the UWM foundation's president.

Aurora Spectral's technology comes out of the lab of Valerica Raicu, an associate professor in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee physics department. Thomas Mozer is the new company's chief executive officer. Mozer founded Nerites Corp. and also previously ran Promega Corp.'s forensic business.

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IceCube telescope: Extreme science meets extreme electronics

Junko Yoshida
EE Times

MADISON, Wis. — The world’s largest telescope, currently under construction more than a mile beneath the Antarctic ice, is on schedule to be completed next year, according to a researcher at the University of Wisconsin, the lead institution for a scientific project called IceCube.

Ninety-five percent of the IceCube telescope, consisting of thousands of digital optical modules developed for scientists working to understand the universe, is already installed and operating at the South Pole, said Albrecht Karle, a physics professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in an interview with EE Times.

The IceCube telescope is no ordinary apparatus. With a volume of one cubic kilometer, the instrument is pointed not to the sky, but downward towards the center of the Earth, buried beneath tons of ice in the coldest spot in the world. No one will ever “look through” this telescope. Instead, it will convey its findings through vast arrays of digital sensors.

Scientists backed by the National Science Foundation are looking for very small, very elusive particles called neutrinos that can tell scientists much more about the universe than photons or charged particles.

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US experiment hints at 'multiple God particles'

By Paul Rincon

Science reporter, BBC News

There may be multiple versions of the elusive "God particle" - or Higgs boson - according to a new study.

Finding the Higgs is the primary aim of the £6bn ($10bn) Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiment near Geneva.

But recent results from the LHC's US rival suggest physicists could be hunting five particles, not one.

The data may point to new laws of physics beyond the current accepted theory - known as the Standard Model.

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New measurements from Fermilab’s MINOS experiment suggest a difference in a key property of neutrinos and antineutrinos

BATAVIA, Illinois-Scientists of the MINOS experiment at the Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator laboratory today (June 14) announced the world’s most precise measurement to date of the parameters that govern antineutrino oscillations, the back-and-forth transformations of antineutrinos from one type to another. This result provides information about the difference in mass between different antineutrino types. The measurement showed an unexpected variance in the values for neutrinos and antineutrinos. This mass difference parameter, called Δm2 (“delta m squared”), is smaller by approximately 40 percent for neutrinos than for antineutrinos.

However, there is a still a five percent probability that Δm2 is actually the same for neutrinos and antineutrinos. With such a level of uncertainty, MINOS physicists need more data and analysis to know for certain if the variance is real.

Neutrinos and antineutrinos behave differently in many respects, but the MINOS results, presented today at the Neutrino 2010 conference in Athens, Greece, and in a seminar at Fermilab, are the first observation of a potential fundamental difference that established physical theory could not explain.

“Everything we know up to now about neutrinos would tell you that our measured mass difference parameters should be very similar for neutrinos and antineutrinos,” said MINOS co-spokesperson Rob Plunkett. “If this result holds up, it would signal a fundamentally new property of the neutrino-antineutrino system. The implications of this difference for the physics of the universe would be profound.”

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International team discovers element 117


An international team of scientists from Russia and the United States, including two Department of Energy national laboratories and two universities, has discovered the newest superheavy element, element 117.

The team included scientists from the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research (Dubna, Russia), the Research Institute for Advanced Reactors (Dimitrovgrad), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“The discovery of element 117 is the culmination of a decade-long journey to expand the periodic table and write the next chapter in heavy element research,” said Academician Yuri Oganessian, scientific leader of the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions at JINR and spokesperson for the collaboration.

The team established the existence of element 117 from decay patterns observed following the bombardment of a radioactive berkelium target with calcium ions at the JINR U400 cyclotron in Dubna. The experiment depended on the availability of special detection facilities and dedicated accelerator time at Dubna, unique isotope production and separation facilities at Oak Ridge, and distinctive nuclear data analysis capabilities at Livermore.

“This is a significant breakthrough for science,” LLNL director George Miller said. “The discovery of a new element provides new insight into the makeup of the universe and is a testimony to the strength of science and technology at the partner institutions.”

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Ultra-powerful Laser Makes Silicon Pump Liquid Uphill with No Added Energy

Researchers at the University of Rochester's Institute of Optics have discovered a way to make liquid flow vertically upward along a silicon surface, overcoming the pull of gravity, without pumps or other mechanical devices.

In a paper in the journal Optics Express, professor Chunlei Guo and his assistant Anatoliy Vorobyev demonstrate that by carving intricate patterns in silicon with extremely short, high-powered laser bursts, they can get liquid to climb to the top of a silicon chip like it was being sucked through a straw.

Unlike a straw, though, there is no outside pressure pushing the liquid up; it rises on its own accord. By creating nanometer-scale structures in silicon, Guo greatly increases the attraction that water molecules feel toward it. The attraction, or hydrophile, of the silicon becomes so great, in fact, that it overcomes the strong bond that water molecules feel for other water molecules.

Thus, instead of sticking to each other, the water molecules climb over one another for a chance to be next to the silicon. (This might seem like getting energy for free, but even though the water rises, thus gaining potential energy, the chemical bonds holding the water to the silicon require a lower energy than the ones holding the water molecules to other water molecules.) The water rushes up the surface at speeds of 3.5 cm per second.

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