Where Can I See Comet Pan-STARRS?

The first of this year’s cometary double features, Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4), is coming to a sky near you! Observers in the northern hemisphere should get their first glimpse of the comet tonight, visible with the naked eye. The comet will glow relatively brightly in the west over the next few days, then dim slowly in the weeks to come as it leaves the Sun farther behind.
Even though southern viewers have watched it brighten throughout February, Pan-STARRS came closest to Earth a few days

The future of ion traps: Technology will continue to be leader in development of quantum computing architectures

Scientists speculate on ion trap technology as a scalable option for quantum information processing.

Engineering breakthrough promises significantly more efficient solar cells

A new technique could lead to significantly more efficient solar cells. Quantum dot photovoltaics offers the potential for low-cost, large-area solar power -- however these devices are not yet highly efficient in the infrared portion of the sun's spectrum, which is responsible for half of the sun's power that reaches Earth. The solution? Spectrally tuned, solution-processed plasmonic nanoparticles. These particles, researchers say, provide unprecedented control over light's propagation and absorption.

Long predicted atomic collapse state observed in graphene

Seventy years ago theorists predicted superlarge nuclei would exhibit a quantum-mechanical phenomenon known as "atomic collapse." Recently materials scientists calculated that highly-charged impurities in graphene should exhibit a corresponding buildup of electrons partially localized in space and energy -- a unique electronic resonance. By constructing artificial superlarge nuclei on graphene, researchers have achieved the first experimental observation of long-sought atomic collapse, with important implications for the future of graphene-based electronic devices.

INRS overcomes a hurdle in the development of terahertz lasers

Dr. Roberto Morandotti and his team at the INRS Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications Research Centre have developed a device that is critical to the use of terahertz (THz) sources for a variety of applications.

Improving electronics by solving nearly century-old problem

Scientists have solved an almost century-old problem that could further help downscale the size of electronic devices. The work focused on the low-frequency electronic 1/f noise, also known as pink noise and flicker noise. It is a signal or process with a power spectral density inversely proportional to the frequency. It was first discovered in vacuum tubes in 1925 and since then it has been found everywhere from fluctuations of the intensity in music recordings to human heart rates and electrical currents in materials and devices.

First discovery of a natural topological insulator

In a step toward understanding and exploiting an exotic form of matter that has been sparking excitement for potential applications in a new genre of supercomputers, scientists are reporting the first identification of a naturally occurring "topological insulator."

Astrophysicists suggest behavior of Fermi bubbles may be explained by dark matter

( —Astrophysicists Dan Hooper and Tracy Slatyer of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and Princeton University respectively, have written a paper—and uploaded it to the preprint server arXiv—in which they suggest that a massive outflow of charged particles from the center of the Milky Way galaxy, may be partly due to collisions between dark matter particles that result in their annihilation. Their research is part of an ongoing effort by various scientists around the world to better explain, or prove the existence of dark matter.

Final magnet girders installed at NSLS-II

( —In January, the last of 150 magnet girders was installed in the storage ring of the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), capping off a tremendous yearlong effort in which 843 magnets were safely delivered, tested, and installed at Brookhaven's new light source.

Searching for a twist in neutron spin axis, physicists find nothing—and that's something

( —Besides understanding how much dark matter and dark energy there is—about 95 percent of the universe—scientists also want to know more about what dark matter and dark energy are not, as opposed to what they are. Indiana University's Mike Snow, a nuclear physicist who specializes in precision measurements using low energy neutrons, now has another "what they are not" to add to the list.


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