Physics and Astronomy News Archive: September 2010
Telling Time on the Moon
Source: MIT Posted: 9/20/10 New map of lunar craters sheds light on early solar-system activity and points to oldest parts of the moon’s surface.
Surprisingly Complicated Molecule Found in Open Space
Source: AlphaGalileo Posted: 9/20/10 In interstellar clouds of extremely small density scientists managed to find a molecule that has an unexpectedly complicated structure. The discovery will force a change in the way of thinking about chemical processes occurring in the apparently empty areas of the Galaxy.
Putting a Spin on Light and Atoms
Source: LBL Posted: 9/20/10 Researchers have now made sensitive measurements of magnetic fields by maintaining the spin polarization of atoms in an alkali-vapor magnetometer for more than 60 seconds at room temperature.
Source: MIT Posted: 9/20/10 New antenna made of carbon nanotubes could make photovoltaic cells more efficient by concentrating solar energy.
Missing Piece Inspires New Look at Mars Puzzle
Source: JPL/NASA Posted: 9/9/10 Experiments prompted by a 2008 surprise from NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander suggest that soil examined by NASA's Viking Mars landers in 1976 may have contained carbon-based chemical building blocks of life.
Researchers Create 'Quantum Cats' Made of Light
Source: NIST Posted: 9/7/10 Researchers at the NIST have created 'quantum cats' made of photons, boosting prospects for manipulating light in new ways to enhance precision measurements as well as computing and communications based on quantum physics.
Hubble Discovers Composition of 'Star Guts' Pouring Out
Source: UColorado Posted: 9/7/10 Observations made with NASA's newly refurbished Hubble Space Telescope of a nearby supernova are allowing astronomers to measure the velocity and composition of 'star guts' being ejected into space following the explosion.
Shrinking Atmospheric Layer Linked to Low Levels of Solar Radiation
Source: NSF Posted: 9/3/10 Large changes in the sun's energy output may drive unexpectedly dramatic fluctuations in Earth's outer atmosphere. Results of a study link a recent, temporary shrinking of a high atmospheric layer with a sharp drop in the sun's ultraviolet radiation levels.
New View of Tectonic Plates
Source: Caltech Posted: 9/3/10 Scientists have developed new computer algorithms that for the first time allow for the simultaneous modeling of the earth's mantle flow, large-scale tectonic plate motions, and the behavior of individual fault zones, to produce an unprecedented view of plate tectonics and the forces that drive it.
'After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in esthetics, plasticity, and form. The greatest scientists are always artists as well.'