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December 2004

December 7

US review rekindles cold fusion debate
Energy panel split over whether experiments produced power.

Simple wire picks up terahertz waves
'Coat-hanger' probes could boost airport security.

Physicists Find Strong Evidence for New State of Superconductivity
Researchers have found the clearest evidence yet for a superconducting state that differs from its mirror image. The team says the results, which come after six years of effort, are "definitive proof" that strontium ruthenate, or SRO, exhibits "odd-parity" superconductivity, sometimes called spin-triplet superconductivity. But not everyone is convinced yet.

November 2004

November 21

33-Year Hunt For Proof Of Spin Current Now Over- Spin Hall Effect Observed. Santa Barbara CA (SPX) Nov 12, 2004
In a paper published online Thursday in Science, a group of researchers led by David Awschalom, a professor of physics and electrical and computer engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara, reports the observation of the spin Hall effect.

Shedding Light On A Microscopic World. Baton Rouge LA (SPX) Nov 19, 2004
An LSU scientist has achieved national recognition for her research on the shortest pulses of light ever created - pulses that could reveal important new information about some of nature's tiniest building blocks.

Experiment Confirms Existence Of New Electronic State In Superconductors
The existence of a new electronic state in superconductors, materials that can carry an electric current without resistance, has been confirmed experimentally according to research.

Unusual Material That Contracts When Heated Is Giving Up Its Secrets To Physicists
Most solids expand when heated, a familiar phenomenon with many practical implications. Among the rare exceptions to this rule, the compound zirconium tungstate stands out by virtue of the enormous temperature range over which it exhibits so-called "negative thermal expansion," contracting as it heats up and expanding as it cools, and because it does so uniformly in all directions.

November 8

Scientists Zero In On Why Time Flows In One Direction
Chicago IL (SPX) Nov 02, 2004 - The big bang could be a normal event in the natural evolution of the universe that will happen repeatedly over incredibly vast time scales as the universe expands, empties out and cools off, according to two University of Chicago physicists.

Experiments Claim to See Einstein's "Frame Dragging"
By precisely calculating odd shifts in the orbit of Mercury, Einstein gained important support for his theory of general relativity, which posits that gravity arises because mass bends spacetime. By studying the orbits of two manmade satellites around Earth, scientists now say they have confirmed a much smaller effect predicted by the theory: namely, that mass drags spacetime with it as it rotates.

October 2004

October 24

Physicists Succeed In Transferring Information Between Matter And Light Atlanta GA (SPX) Oct 22, 2004
A team of physicists at the Georgia Institute of Technology has taken a significant step toward the development of quantum communications systems by successfully transferring quantum information from two different groups of atoms onto a single photon.

As World Turns It Drags Time And Space With It Baltimore MD (SPX) Oct 22, 2004
An international team of NASA and university researchers has found the first direct evidence the Earth is dragging space and time around itself as it rotates. The researchers believe they have measured the effect, first predicted in 1918 by using Einstein's theory of general relativity, by precisely observing shifts in the orbits of two Earth-orbiting laser-ranging satellites. See also Relativity tested on a shoestring budget.

Quantum quirk may give objects mass
Entanglement - the quantum effect that allows two particles to behave as one, even when separated - could responsible for the mass of everyday objects.

Sandia Refurbishes It's Fusion Z Machine Albuquerque NM (SPX) Oct 22, 2004
Sandia National Laboratories' Z machine, which last year emitted neutrons to enter the race to provide the world virtually unlimited electricity from, essentially, seawater, has received approval from the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to proceed with a $61.7 million refurbishment.

A Liquid Universe London (SPX) Oct 14, 2004
To look deep into the fundamental structure of matter is to look billions of years back in time, to the moment when matter first blinked into being.

October 10

Researchers Use Semiconductors To Set Speed Limit On Light. San Francisco CA (SPX) Sep 28, 2004
In a nod to scientific paradox, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have slowed light down in an effort to speed up network communication.

Table Top Particle Accelerators One Step Closer. Washington DC (SPX) Sep 29, 2004
Scientists from the UK and the USA have successfully demonstrated a new technique that could help to shrink the size and cost of future particle accelerators for fundamental physics experiments and applications in materials and biomedicine.

Nobel Physics Winners Explain Tiny Matter
U.S. scientists David J Gross, H. David Politzer and Frank Wilczek on Tuesday won the 2004 Nobel Physics Prize for developing a theory that explains quarks, nature's tiniest building blocks, the Nobel jury said.

September 2004

September 13

Nanotechnology Leads To Discovery Of Super Superconductors. LOS ALAMOS, N.M., Sept. 9, 2004
University of California scientists working at Los Alamos National Laboratory with a researcher from the University of Cambridge have demonstrated a simple and industrially scaleable method for improving the current densities of superconducting coated conductors in magnetic field environments. The discovery has the potential to increase the already impressive carrying capacity of superconducting wires and tapes by as much as 200 to 500 percent in certain uses, like motors and generators, where high magnetic fields diminish current densities.

August 2004

August 31

Quark Study Breaks Logjam Between Theory, Experiment Chicago IL (SPX) Aug 30, 2004
University of Chicago scientists have solved a 20-year-old puzzle in particle physics using data from an experiment conducted for an entirely different purpose.

Cornell Apparatus Probes The Mystery Of A High-Temperature Superconductor Ithaca NY (SPX) Aug 27, 2004
With equipment so sensitive that it can locate clusters of electrons, Cornell University and University of Tokyo physicists have - sort of - explained puzzling behavior in a much-studied high-temperature superconductor, perhaps leading to a better understanding of how such superconductors work. 

First practical plastic magnets created
Researchers create the first plastic magnet that works well at room temperature – computers may be the first to benefit.

The Role Of Particle Physics In A New Universe Stanford, CA (SPX) Aug 26, 2004
A string of recent discoveries in astronomy has left scientists with an unsettling realization: The stuff we know and understand makes up less than 5 percent of the universe. The rest has to be yet-unknown forms of "dark matter" and "dark energy." 

August 23

Fermilab Scientists Present New Physics Results At ICHEP Beijing. Batavia IL (SPX) Aug 19, 2004
Scientists from the Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory are presenting new results from experiments performed at the world's highest-energy particle accelerator during the 32nd International Conference on High Energy Physics in Beijing, China, August 16-22.

August 17

Physicists To Mark 20th Anniversary Of First String Theory Revolution. Chicago IL (SPX) Aug 11, 2004
Twenty years have passed since the first superstring revolution started in the Aspen Center for Physics in Colorado. Approximately 75 scientists will meet for a symposium at the center Aug. 12 to celebrate the revolution, including Jeffrey Harvey, the Enrico Fermi Distinguished Service Professor in Physics at the University of Chicago.

August 8

Theory links dark energy and neutrinos
Unlike other theories of dark energy, researchers say, this one relates it to known particles that can be detected in experiments.

Matter-Antimatter: New, Striking Difference Discovered. Rome, Italy (SPX) Aug 03, 2004
If we can look at stars, planets and all living beings in the Universe, as well as ourselves, it's because, as theoretical physicists suggest, after the primordial cosmic explosion, the "Big Bang", matter has prevailed over antimatter originating Universe as we know it.

July 2004

July 25

Hawking Flips on Black Hole Theory. July 16, 2004
It may be time to shift thinking on black holes, for decades believed to be sucking maws in space from which even light cannot escape. Noted physicist Stephen Hawking, who has long argued just that, now says he was wrong: black holes may ultimately allow something to get free. His about face might solve one of the longest-standing quandaries in quantum physics, called the black hole information paradox. See also Hawking raises new black holes theory and Hawking changes his mind about black holes.

July 18

Scientists Successfully Observe Elusive Neutrino Oscillation. Irvine CA (SPX) Jul 08, 2004
A new analysis of atmospheric neutrino data by a team of international scientists has shown for the first time the distinctive pattern of neutrino oscillation that has eluded researchers until now.

July 10

Speed of light may have changed recently.
The speed of light, one of the most sacrosanct of the universal physical constants, may have been lower as recently as two billion years ago - and not in some far corner of the universe, but right here on Earth. A varying speed of light contradicts Einstein's theory of relativity, and would undermine much of traditional physics. But some physicists believe it would elegantly explain puzzling cosmological phenomena such as the nearly uniform temperature of the universe. It might also support string theories that predict extra spatial dimensions.

Dark Matter And Dark Energy May Be Different Aspects Of Single Force. Nashville TN (SPX) Jul 02, 2004
In the last few decades, scientists have discovered that there is a lot more to the universe than meets the eye: the cosmos appears to be filled with not just one, but two invisible constituents - dark matter and dark energy - whose existence has been proposed based solely on their gravitational effects on ordinary matter and energy.

Standard Model Upended With Discovery Of Neutrino Oscillation, Mass Boston MA (SPX) Jul 09, 2004
A team of nearly 100 physicists from around the world have achieved results verifying that the elementary particle known as the neutrino exhibits a distinctive pattern of oscillation.

Fundamental physics constants stay put
A new study casts doubt on an earlier claim that the fine-structure constant varied as the Universe evolved.

June 2004

June 20

Test May Confirm Strings As Basic Constituent Of Matter, Energy. Santa Barbara CA - Jun 14, 2004
According to string theory, all the different particles that constitute physical reality are made of the same thing-tiny looped strings whose different vibrations give rise to the different fundamental particles that make up everything we know.

Top Quark Measurements Give 'God Particle' New Lease On Life. Rochester NY (SPX) Jun 10, 2004
Researchers from the University of Rochester have helped measure the elusive top quark with unparalleled precision, and the surprising results affect everything from the Higgs boson, nicknamed the "God particle," to the makeup of the dark matter that comprises 90 percent of the universe.

Surprise: Fermilab's SELEX Experiment Finds Puzzling New Particle. BATAVIA, Illinois
Scientists at the Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory will announce on Friday, June 18 the observation of an unexpected new member of a family of subatomic particles called "heavy-light" mesons. The new meson, a combination of a strange quark and a charm antiquark, is the heaviest ever observed in this family, and it behaves in surprising ways -- it apparently breaks the rules on decaying into other particles.

June 13

A Quantum Mechanical Tune Up For Better Measurement. Washington (SPX) Jun 07, 2004
By exploiting the weird quantum behavior of atoms, physicists at the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have demonstrated a new technique that someday could be used to save weeks of measurements needed to operate ultraprecise atomic clocks.  The technique also could be used to improve the precision of other measurement processes such as spectroscopy.

Ultra-Cold Neutron Source Confirmed As World's Most Intense. Los Alamos NM (SPX) Jun 09, 2004
Some slow, cold visitors stopped by Los Alamos National Laboratory last week, and their arrival could prove a godsend to physicists seeking a better theory of everything.

Fermilab Results Change Estimated Mass Of Postulated Higgs Boson. Batavia IL (SPX) Jun 10, 2004
Scientists at the Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory today (June 9) announced new results that change the best estimate of the mass of the postulated Higgs boson from approximately 96 GeV/c2 to 117 GeV/c2.

May 2004

May 30

Into the dark state
For centuries we have struggled to exploit the properties of light. Though we have succeeded to some degree, it has always been slippery and elusive, a fast-moving sprite. But not any more. Thanks to something called the dark state, where the boundary between light and matter becomes blurred, we can now slow and even stop photons of light. And this means we can use them to carry and process information with unprecedented ease: thanks to the mysterious dark state, we can at last put light on a leash.

May 23

When Bosons become Fermions. Munich (SPX) May 20, 2004
There are two fundamentally distinct families of particles in nature: bosons and fermions. Being a boson or a fermion has profound consequences on the 'social behaviour' of a particle when it meets other partners. Whereas bosons tend to socialize and want to be as close to each other as possible, fermions are very independent and like to be on their own.

May 16

OUR UNIVERSE HAS A TOPOLOGY SCALE OF AT LEAST 24 Gpc, or about 75 billion light years, according to a new analysis of data from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP).  What does this mean? Well, because of conceivable hall-of-mirrors effects of spacetime, the universe might be finite in size but give us mortals the illusion that it is infinite.  For example, the cosmos might be tiled with some repeating shape, around which light rays might wrap themselves over and over.

Physicists 'Entangle' Light, Pave Way To Atomic-Scale Measurements. Toronto (SPX) May 13, 2004
U of T physicists have developed a way to entangle photons which could ultimately lead to an extremely precise new measurement system. Their study appears in the May 13 issue of the journal Nature.

Yale Scientist Says Clues To String Theory May Be Visible In Big Bang Aftermath.
Scientists say that the fundamental forces of the Universe – gravity (defined by general relativity), electromagnetism, “weak” radioactive forces and “strong” nuclear forces (all defined by quantum theory) – were united in the high-energy flash of the Big Bang, when all matter and energy was confined within a sub-atomic scale. Although the Big Bang occurred nearly 14 billion years ago, its afterglow, the CMB, still blankets the entire universe and contains a fossilized record of the first moments of time. The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) studies the CMB and detects subtle temperature differences, within this largely uniform radiation, glowing at only 2.73 degrees Celsius above absolute zero. The uniformity is evidence of “inflation,” a period when the expansion of the Universe accelerated rapidly, around 10-33 seconds after the Big Bang. During inflation, the Universe grew from an atomic scale to a cosmic scale, increasing its size a hundred trillion trillion times over. The energy field that drove inflation, like all quantum fields, contained fluctuations. These fluctuations, locked into the cosmic microwave background like waves on a frozen pond, may contain evidence for string theory.

May 2

Proof Of The Matter Is In The Jelly. Durham - Apr 28, 2004
In the community of very tiny particles that make up all matter in the universe, there are two main citizens: bosons and fermions. Bosons are socially oriented and tend to stick together, while fermions are solitary entities, preferring to go it alone.

Gravity Probe B Powered Up And OK. Huntsville - Apr 26, 2004
Gravity Probe B — a NASA mission to test two predictions of Albert Einstein's Theory of General Relativity — is orbiting 400 miles above Earth, and all spacecraft systems are performing well.  Its solar arrays are generating power, and all electrical systems are powered on.

Scientists Post A Lower Speed Limit For Magnetic Switching.

April 2004

April 25

Seeking the Densest Matter
Physicists investigating heavy-particle collisions believe they are on the track of a universal form of matter, one common to very high energy particles ranging from protons to heavy nuclei such as uranium. Some think that this matter, called a color glass condensate, may explain new nuclear properties and the process of particle formation during collisions. Experimentalists have recently reported intriguing data that suggest a color glass condensate has actually formed in past work. 

In Search of Gravitomagnetism. Huntsville - Apr 21, 2004
NASA's Gravity Probe B spacecraft left Earth Tuesday in search of a force of nature, long suspected but never proven: gravitomagnetism.

April 11

World's Most Precise Gyroscopes Ready To Test Einstein Theory Vandenberg AFB - Apr 05, 2004
NASA's Gravity Probe B mission, also known as GP-B, will use four ultra-precise gyroscopes, orbiting the Earth in a unique satellite, to experimentally test two extraordinary predictions of Einstein's 1916 theory that space and time are distorted by the presence of massive objects.

April 4

Evicting Einstein. Huntsville - Mar 29, 2004
Sooner or later, the reign of Einstein, like the reign of Newton before him, will come to an end. An upheaval in the world of physics that will overthrow our notions of basic reality is inevitable, most scientists believe, and currently a horse race is underway between a handful of theories competing to be the successor to the throne.

The weirdest link
Entanglement - the defining trait of quantum theory - is no longer just a curiosity of the quantum world. Physicists are now finding that entanglement between particles exists everywhere all the time, and have recently found evidence that its effects can even be measured from the everyday world we inhabit. It is a discovery that might have far-reaching consequences - it could even be the key to understanding what gives rise to the phenomenon of life.

Bright Light Yields Unusual Vibes. Montreal - Mar 29, 2004
By bombarding very thin slices of several copper/oxygen compounds, called cuprates, with very bright, short-lived pulses of light, Ivan Bozovic, a physicist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, and his collaborators have discovered an unusual property of the materials: After absorbing the light energy, they emit it as long-lived sound waves, as opposed to heat energy.

March 2004

March 7

Physics News Update is a digest of physics news items arising from physics meetings, physics journals, newspapers and magazines, and other news sources. Subscriptions are free as a way of broadly disseminating information about physics and physicists.

The accelerating expansion of the universe, the notion that the big bang enlargement of spacetime is not slowing down but actually gathering speed, has received new experimental support in the form of supernova observations made by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST).

Evidence Bubbles Over To Support Tabletop Nuclear Fusion Device. West Lafayette - Mar 04, 2004
Researchers are reporting new evidence supporting their earlier discovery of an inexpensive "tabletop" device that uses sound waves to produce nuclear fusion reactions.

Particle Physicists Look to the Future. London - Mar 04, 2004The Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council has thi
s week approved a 21 million programme of Accelerator Research and Development for future facilities in particle physics, including a Linear Collider and a possible Neutrino Factory.

Information Paradox Solved? If So, Black Holes Are "Fuzzballs" Columbus - Mar 04, 2004
Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne may owe John Preskill a set of encyclopedias. In 1997, the three cosmologists made a famous bet as to whether information that enters a black hole ceases to exist -- that is, whether the interior of a black hole is changed at all by the characteristics of particles that enter it.

Researchers Create Terahertz Magnetism From Non-magnetic Materials
A team of engineers and physicists at UCLA, UC San Diego and Imperial College in London has successfully created a "metamaterial" that displays strong, tunable magnetic activity at terahertz frequencies. 

February 2004

February 22

Research On Tiniest Particles Could Have Far-Reaching Effects. Seattle - Feb 16, 2004
Neutrinos are about the tiniest things in existence, but developing a greater understanding of what they are and how they function is likely to have a huge impact in the next few years. The subatomic particles, created in the nuclear furnaces of the sun and other stars, have no electrical charge and only recently has it been found that they have any mass at all, yet billions pour through each human body every second with no discernable effect or interaction.

February 8

Researchers Unveil New Form of Matter
Scientists have manufactured a new form of matter--a so-called fermionic condensate, which is comprised of pairs of atoms in a gas at temperatures close to absolute zero. Its creators hope it will inform the design of room-temperature superconductors in the future.

Modern alchemists make two new elements
Heavy elements approach fabled 'island of stability'. 3 February 2004

Particle experiment produces abundant hypernuclei
Scientists will use them to learn more about the weak force, as well as the first moments of the Universe's existence.

January 2004

January 25

Glimpse of a new type of matter
Frozen helium has been turned into a solid that behaves like a superfluid. 15 January 2004.

January 18

Mystery Particle May Hold Clues To Universe. Melbourne - Jan 12, 2004
Physicists from the University of Melbourne in Australia have helped discover a new state of matter that may shed light on the fabric of the universe. The University team of 14 is part of a group of 300 physicists from 13 countries known as the 'Belle collaboration'. They have discovered a sub-atomic particle that they are having difficulty explaining and difficulty fitting with any current theory that attempts to describe matter.

Probable Discovery Of A New, Supersolid, Phase Of Matter
In the 15 January 2004 issue of the journal Nature, two physicists from Penn State University will announce their discovery of a new phase of matter, a "supersolid" form of helium-4 with the extraordinary frictionless-flow properties of a superfluid. "We discovered that solid helium-4 appears to behave like a superfluid when it is so cold that the laws of quantum mechanics govern its behavior," says Moses H. W. Chan, Evan Pugh Professor of Physics at Penn State. "We apparently have observed, for the first time, a solid material with the characteristics of a superfluid."

January 4

Topsy Turvy: In neutrons and protons, quarks take wrong turns.
Revved-up particles, namely quarks, spinning inside neutrons in the opposite direction to that of the neutrons themselves, challenge the prevailing model of how quarks behave.

Nucleons Go Two-by-Two.
Just as people behave differently as couples than as individuals, protons and neutrons (also known as nucleons) inside the nucleus of the atom behave differently in pairs.