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Articles by Mario Gruber

Chiral magnetic effect generates quantum current

February 9, 2016

Scientists at the U.S Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and Stony Brook University have discovered a new way to generate very low-resistance electric current in a new class of materials. The discovery, which relies on the separation of right- and left-“handed” particles, points to a range of potential applications in energy, quantum computing, and medical imaging, and possibly even a new mechanism for inducing superconductivity—the ability of some materials to carry current with no energy loss. The material the scientists worked with, zirconium pentatelluride, has a surprising trait: When placed in parallel electric and magnetic fields, it responds with an imbalance in the number of right- and left-handed particles—a chiral imbalance. That imbalance pushes oppositely charged particles in opposite directions to create a powerful electric current. This “chiral magnetic effect” had long been predicted theoretically, but never observed definitively in a materials science laboratory at the time this work was done. In fact, when physicists in Brookhaven’s Condensed Matter Physics & Materials Science Department (CMP&MS) first measured the significant drop in electrical resistance, and the accompanying dramatic increase in conductivity, they were quite surprised. Continue reading the entire article by clicking the name of the source below. [MORE]

This Week in Science (Feb. 1 – 7)

February 7, 2016

This is a collection of the 10 best and most popular stories from science and technology over the past 7 days. Scroll down and click the individual images below to read the stories and follow the This Week in Science on Wakelet (here) to get these week... [MORE]

Americans are ten times more likely to die from firearms than citizens of other developed countries

February 5, 2016

Gun deaths are a serious public health issue in the United States and the scope of the problem is often difficult to illustrate. A new study published in The American Journal of Medicine lays out the risk in concrete terms. When compared to 22 other high-income nations, Americans are ten times more likely to be killed by a gun than their counterparts in the developed world. Specifically, gun homicide rates are 25 times higher in the U.S. and, while the overall suicide rate is on par with other high-income nations, the U.S. gun suicide rate is eight times higher. In order to help put America’s relationship with guns into perspective, researchers from the University of Nevada-Reno and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health analyzed mortality data gathered by the World Health Organization in 2010. Investigators found that despite having similar rates of nonlethal crimes as other high-income countries, the U.S. has much higher rates of lethal violence, mostly driven by extremely higher rates of gun-related homicides. The study reveals some stark truths about living and dying in the United States. When compared to other high-income nations, as an American you are: • Seven times more likely to be violently killed • Twenty-five times more likely to be violently killed with a gun • Six times more likely to be accidentally killed with a gun • Eight times more likely to commit suicide using a gun • Ten times more likely to die from a firearm death overall Homicide is the second leading cause of death for Americans 15 to 24 years of age, and the third leading cause of death among those 25 to 34 years of age. Continue reading the entire article by clicking the name of the source below. [MORE]

Physicists discover new properties of superconductivity

February 4, 2016

New findings from an international collaboration led by Canadian scientists may eventually lead to a theory of how superconductivity initiates at the atomic level, a key step in understanding how to harness the potential of materials that could provide lossless energy storage, levitating trains and ultra-fast supercomputers. Professor David Hawthorn, Professor Michel Gingras, doctoral student Andrew Achkar, and post-doctoral fellow Dr. Zhihao Hao from University of Waterloo’s Department of Physics and Astronomy have experimentally shown that electron clouds in superconducting materials can snap into an aligned and directional order called nematicity. “It has become apparent in the past few years that the electrons involved in superconductivity can form patterns, stripes or checkerboards, and exhibit different symmetries – aligning preferentially along one direction,” said Professor Hawthorn. “These patterns and symmetries have important consequences for superconductivity – they can compete, coexist or possibly even enhance superconductivity. ” Their results, published today in the prestigious journal Science, present the most direct experimental evidence to date of electronic nematicity as a universal feature in cuprate high-temperature superconductors. “In this study, we identify some unexpected alignment of the electrons – a finding that is likely generic to the high temperature superconductors and in time may turn out be a key ingredient of the problem,” said Professor Hawthorn. Superconductivity, the ability of a material to conduct an electric current with zero resistance, is best described as an exotic state in high temperature superconductors – challenging to predict, let alone explain. Continue reading the entire article by clicking the name of the source below. [MORE]

Nuclear fusion device’s 1st test with hydrogen declared a success

February 3, 2016

Scientists in Germany flipped the switch Wednesday on an experiment they hope will advance the quest for nuclear fusion, considered a clean and safe form of nuclear power. Following nine years of construction and testing, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Greifswald injected a tiny amount of hydrogen into a doughnut-shaped device — then zapped it with the equivalent of 6,000 microwave ovens. The resulting super-hot gas, known as plasma, lasted just a fraction of a second before cooling down again, long enough for scientists to confidently declare the start of their experiment a success. “Everything went well today,” said Robert Wolf, a senior scientist involved with the project. “With a system as complex as this you have to make sure everything works perfectly and there’s always a risk.” Among the difficulties is how to cool the complex arrangement of magnets required to keep the plasma floating inside the device, Wolf said. Scientists looked closely at the hiccups experienced during the start-up of the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland more than five years ago to avoid similar mistakes, he said. Continue reading the entire, in-depth article by clicking the name of the source below. [MORE]

Donald Trump ‘nominated for Nobel Peace Prize’ for ‘vigorous peace through strength ideology’

February 3, 2016

Monday was not a good day for Donald Trump. His infamous phrase ‘loser’ came back to haunt him when he was forced to admit defeat to rival Ted Cruz in the Iowa caucus after weeks of being billed as the Republican frontrunner. But on Tuesday, it emerged that Trump’s name had reportedly made it onto a list of nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize – alongside figures such as Pope Francis and a campaigner for Isis rape survivors. Trump’s reported nomination comes after he made a number of inflammatory and divisive comments in the run up to the caucus. The billionaire business magnate endeared himself to Katie Hopkins by proposing that Muslims be banned from entering the US and has been condemned for his comments about immigration and Mexican migrants, with one of his most infamous pledges being to build a “big beautiful wall” between the US and Mexico. Continue reading the entire article by clicking the name of the source below. [MORE]
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