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May 26

Reproduced by Lecturer Site, and originally reported by Harald Zur Hausen, in Science, 25 May, pp. 978-979, [DOI:10.1126/science.336.6084.978], 2012.

The Greek Society and its institutions are going through very difficult times, emanating from several years of severe economic crisis. The gross national product of Greece decreased by almost 7% last year alone, and the unemployment rate exceeded 20%….

Meanwhile, fiscal cutbacks threaten the survival of Greece’s best centers of creative potential. A recent commentary in Physics Today (1) points out that funds are potentially available and can be used to remedy some of the above problems. Such funds, named structural funds, derive from “value-added” (sales) taxes throughout the European Union (EU) and are to be used to support the development of the poorer member-areas of the Union. Greece is entitled, annually, to a fraction of these European structural funds. For several years, Greece has used a sizable fraction of these funds to cover its research and technology budget. The disbursement of these funds requires actions from both sides, the EU and Greece. In the past 2 years, for various reasons, these actions did not come to fruition, resulting in the current crisis of Greek initiatives in education, research, and technology. This is halting the prospects of weathering the current crisis. Now is the time for European leaders to secure the survival and future development of Greece’s most competitive scientifi c and technological institutions by reinitiating these measures.

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May 08

Reported by Ellis Simon, in City College of New York News, May 4, 2012.

The CUNY Energy Institute, which has been developing innovative low-cost batteries that are safe, non-toxic, and reliable with fast discharge rates and high energy densities, announced that it has built an operating prototype zinc anode battery system. The Institute said large-scale commercialization of the battery would start later this year.

Zinc anode batteries offer an environmentally friendlier and less costly alternative to nickel cadmium batteries. In the longer term, they also could replace lead-acid batteries at the lower cost end of the market. However, the challenge of dendrite formation associated with zinc had to be addressed. Dendrites are crystalline structures that cause batteries to short out.

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Apr 30

By J. Schlappa, K. Wohlfeld, K. J. Zhou, M. Mourigal, M. W. Haverkort, V. N. Strocov, L. Hozoi, C. Monney, S. Nishimoto, S. Singh, A. Revcolevschi, J.-S. Caux, L. Patthey, H. M. Rønnow, J. van den Brink & T. Schmitt in Nature, 18 April 2012, doi:10.1038/nature10974

When viewed as an elementary particle, the electron has spin and charge. When binding to the atomic nucleus, it also acquires an angular momentum quantum number corresponding to the quantized atomic orbital it occupies. Even if electrons in solids form bands and delocalize from the nuclei, in Mott insulators they retain their three fundamental quantum numbers: spin, charge and orbital1. The hallmark of one-dimensional physics is a breaking up of the elementary electron into its separate degrees of freedom2. The separation of the electron into independent quasi-particles that carry either spin (spinons) or charge (holons) was first observed fifteen years ago3. Here we report observation of the separation of the orbital degree of freedom (orbiton) using resonant inelastic X-ray scattering on the one-dimensional Mott insulator Sr2CuO3. We resolve an orbiton separating itself from spinons and propagating through the lattice as a distinct quasi-particle with a substantial dispersion in energy over momentum, of about 0.2 electronvolts, over nearly one Brillouin zone.

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Mar 01

Reported by , in Wired Science, 27 Feb. 2012.

In the movie Fantastic Voyage, a crack surgical team is miniaturized inside a ship. Their mission: to destroy a blood clot in the brain of a Soviet-era informant.

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Feb 26

Reported by , in Wired Science, 22 Feb. 2012.

The sensational result that neutrinos can travel faster than the speed of light may be undone by nothing more than a simple mechanical error.

Scientists from the OPERA collaboration at the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy have “identified two issues that could significantly affect the reported result,” wrote OPERA spokesman Antonio Ereditato in an email.

The first issue is a faulty connection of the fiber-optic cable bringing the GPS signal to the experiment’s master clock. The experiment’s GPS may also have been providing the wrong timestamps during synchronization between events.

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Feb 24

Reported by Newswise, Georgia Institute of Technology, 17/2/2012.

Imagine if smartphone and tablet users could text a note under the table during a meeting without anyone being the wiser. Mobile gadget users might also be enabled to text while walking, watching TV or socializing without taking their eyes off what they’re doing.

Georgia Tech researchers have built a prototype app for touch-screen mobile devices that is vying to be a complete solution for texting without the need to look at a mobile gadget’s screen.

“Research has shown that chorded, or gesture-based, texting is a viable solution for eyes-free written communication in the future, making obsolete the need for users to look at their devices while inputting text on them,” said Mario Romero, Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Interactive Computing (IC) and the project’s principal investigator. Continue reading »

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Feb 23

By Martin Fuechsle, Jill A. Miwa, Suddhasatta Mahapatra, Hoon Ryu, Sunhee Lee, Oliver Warschkow, Lloyd C. L. Hollenberg, Gerhard Klimeck & Michelle Y. Simmons in Nature Nanotechnology (2012), Published online, 19 February 2012.

Abstract: The ability to control matter at the atomic scale and build devices with atomic precision is central to nanotechnology. The scanning tunnelling microscope1 can manipulate individual atoms2 and molecules on surfaces, but the manipulation of silicon to make atomic-scale logic circuits has been hampered by the covalent nature of its bonds. Resist-based strategies have allowed the formation of atomic-scale structures on silicon surfaces3, but the fabrication of working devices—such as transistors with extremely short gate lengths4, spin-based quantum computers5, 6, 7, 8 and solitary dopant optoelectronic devices9—requires the ability to position individual atoms in a silicon crystal with atomic precision. Here, we use a combination of scanning tunnelling microscopy and hydrogen-resist lithography to demonstrate a single-atom transistor in which an individual phosphorus dopant atom has been deterministically placed within an epitaxial silicon device architecture with a spatial accuracy of one lattice site. The transistor operates at liquid helium temperatures, and millikelvin electron transport measurements confirm the presence of discrete quantum levels in the energy spectrum of the phosphorus atom. We find a charging energy that is close to the bulk value, previously only observed by optical spectroscopy.

Read more in doi:10.1038/nnano.2012.21.

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Jan 16

Reported by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office, 11 Jan. 2012.

A new sunflower-inspired pattern increases concentrated solar efficiency.

Just outside Seville, in the desert region of Andalucia, Spain, sits an oasis-like sight: a 100-meter-high pillar surrounded by rows of giant mirrors rippling outward. More than 600 of these mirrors, each the size of half a tennis court, track the sun throughout the day, concentrating its rays on the central tower, where the sun’s heat is converted to electricity — enough to power 6,000 homes.

The sprawling site, named PS10, is among a handful of concentrated solar power (CSP) plants in the world, although that number is expected to grow. CSP proponents say the technology could potentially generate enough clean, renewable energy to power the entire United States, provided two factors are in ample supply: land and sunlight.

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Jan 14

Reported by Alpha Galileo from University of Nottingham, 13 Jan. 2012.

Are you someone who easily recognises everyone you’ve ever met? Or maybe you struggle, even with familiar faces? It is already known that we are better at recognising faces from our own race but researchers have only recently questioned how we assimilate the information we use to recognise people.

New research by the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus has shown that when it comes to recognising people the Malaysian Chinese have adapted their facial recognition techniques to cope with living in a multicultural environment.

The study ‘You Look Familiar: How Malaysian Chinese Recognise Faces’ was led by Chrystalle B.Y. Tan, a PhD student at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus. The results have been published online in the scientific journal PLoS One, This research is the first PhD student publication for Nottingham’s School of Psychology in Malaysia. Continue reading »

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Jan 13

Reported by Ari Entin and Christina Howell, in IBM News, 12 Jan. 2012.

IBM scientists create the world’s smallest magnetic memory bit using only 12 atoms. First-ever demonstration of engineered atomic-scale structures storing information magnetically at low temperatures. New experimental atomic-scale magnet memory is at least 100 times denser than today’s hard disk drives and solid state memory chips.

Punctuating 30 years of nanotechnology research, scientists from IBM Research (NYSE: IBM) have successfully demonstrated the ability to store information in as few as 12 magnetic atoms. This is significantly less than today’s disk drives, which use about one million atoms to store a single bit of information. The ability to manipulate matter by its most basic components – atom by atom – could lead to the vital understanding necessary to build smaller, faster and more energy-efficient devices.

While silicon transistor technology has become cheaper, denser and more efficient, fundamental physical limitations suggest this path of conventional scaling is unsustainable. Alternative approaches are needed to continue the rapid pace of computing innovation.

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