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Mar 10

Computer simulations suggest graphynes may be even more useful than graphene.

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Reported by Bob Yirka, in PhysOrg weblog, 5 March 2012.

The past several years have seen a virtual explosion in the amount of research dedicated to graphene and as a result there has been a nearly constant stream of news pertaining to new discoveries regarding its attributes. Now it appears, graphene is about to be upstaged by a more interesting cousin called graphyne. Graphene, as most everyone is aware by now, is a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal or chicken-wire pattern. Graphyne is also a single layer of carbon atoms, but it comes in several different types of patterns, which likely make it more versatile. Now new computer simulations regarding its properties have been done by a team of researchers in Germany, who report in Physical Review Letters, that their research shows that some types of graphyne structures allow for electron flow in just one direction.

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Mar 09

Turing at 100: Legacy of a universal mind.

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Reported by Tanguy Chouard, Nature, 22 Feb. 2012.

From the day he was born — 23 June 1912 — Alan Mathison Turing seemed destined to solitude, misunderstanding and persecution (see page 441). As his centenary year opens, Nature hails him as one of the top scientific minds of all time (see page 440). This special issue sweeps through Turing’s innumerable achievements, taking us from his most famous roles — wartime code-breaker and founder of computer science (see page 459) — to his lesser known interests of botany, neural nets, unorganized machines, quantum physics and, well, ghosts (see page 562).

Everyone sees a different Turing. A molecular biologist might surprise you by saying that Turing’s most important paper is his 1936 work on the ‘Turing machine’ because of its relevance to DNA-based cellular operations (see page 461). A biophysicist could instead point to his 1952 work on the formation of biological patterns — the first simulation of nonlinear dynamics ever to be published (see page 464). Continue reading »

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Mar 02

IBM Research Advances Device Performance for Quantum Computing.

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Reported by Christine Vu, IBM Press Release, 28 Feb. 2012.

– Latest results bring device performance near the minimum requirements for implementation of a practical quantum computer.
– Scaling up to hundreds or thousands of quantum bits becomes a possibility.

Scientists at IBM Research (NYSE: IBM)/ (#ibmresearch) have achieved major advances in quantum computing device performance that may accelerate the realization of a practical, full-scale quantum computer. For specific applications, quantum computing, which exploits the underlying quantum mechanical behavior of matter, has the potential to deliver computational power that is unrivaled by any supercomputer today.

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Mar 01

First Nanorockets Might Shuttle Drugs, Robo-Surgeons.

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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 28

Replacing Electricity With Light: First Physical ‘Metatronic’ Circuit Created.

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Reported by Evan Lerner, in University of Pennsylvania News, 22 Feb. 2012.

The technological world of the 21st century owes a tremendous amount to advances in electrical engineering, specifically, the ability to finely control the flow of electrical charges using increasingly small and complicated circuits. And while those electrical advances continue to race ahead, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are pushing circuitry forward in a different way, by replacing electricity with light.

“Looking at the success of electronics over the last century, I have always wondered why we should be limited to electric current in making circuits,” said Nader Engheta, professor in the electrical and systems engineering department of Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science. “If we moved to shorter wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum — like light — we could make things smaller, faster and more efficient.”

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Feb 26

Faster-Than-Light Neutrino Results May Be Due to Bad Cables.

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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

Georgia Tech Develops Braille-Like Texting App.

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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

A single-atom transistor.

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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 17

Scientific Doomsday: Ways the World Could Actually End.

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Reported by Daniela Hernandez, in Wired Science, 17 Jan. 2012.

2012 is sure to be filled with too many end-of-the-world jokes, and probably a fair amount of genuine fear as well.

But assuming the Mayans were wrong and doomsday isn’t on Dec. 21 this year, you may be wondering how the world as we know it might really end. We’ve collected several scientifically valid scenarios for you to worry about.


The chances of an earthquake unzipping the world’s fault system are negligible, says seismologist Thorne Lay of the University of California, Santa Cruz. Continue reading »

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Jan 16

Here comes the sun.

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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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