Ultrathin wafer of silicon and gold focuses telecom wavelengths without distortion

(—August 23, 2012 – Applied physicists at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have created an ultrathin, flat lens that focuses light without imparting the distortions of conventional lenses.

Simplified approach for high-power, single-mode lasers

Researchers have developed a new resonator that creates the purest, brightest, and most powerful single-mode quantum cascade lasers yet at the eight-12 micron range, a wavelength of great interest for both military and industrial use.

Physicists search for hidden magnetic states

Physicists have used the new high magnetic-field beamline at Diamond Light Source, the UK's national synchrotron facility, to search for 'hidden magnetic states'. If found, they will provide important confirmation of a theoretical model, which could have important applications in magnetic data storage.

Virus detector harnesses ring of light in 'whispering gallery mode'

By affixing nanoscale gold spheres onto a microscopic bead of glass, researchers have created a super-sensor that can detect even single samples of the smallest known viruses. The sensor uses a peculiar behavior of light known as "whispering gallery mode," named after the famous circular gallery in St. Paul's Cathedral in London, where a whisper near the wall can be heard around the gallery.

NASA Joins Musician, Discovery Education for Premiere of Song from Mars

NASA will hold an educational event to share findings about Mars with students and premiere a new song by musician that will be broadcast from the surface of the Red Planet via the Curiosity rover.

The Algorithm That Finds Connections Scientists Never See

Here’s a thought experiment for you: 
If someone told you you had to drink just one kind of alcoholic beverage for the rest of your life, and you wanted that life to be long and healthy, what would you pick? Wine, right? After all, you’ve probably heard about the scientific studies showing that drinking wine is associated with better health in general, and a longer life span in particular.

Shaking the electron has strengthened quantum mechanics

Atomic orbital electrons react to change of nucleus electric charge following each beta decay and to flying nearby particles emitted from the nucleus. Physicists have simulated such processes for 6He nuclei. Theoretical calculations were recently confirmed.

Researchers probe invisible vacancies in fuel cell materials

Knowing the position of missing oxygen atoms could be the key to cheaper solid oxide fuel cells with longer lifetimes. New microscopy research is enabling scientists to map these vacancies at an atomic scale.

Bill Thurston | Cosmic Variance

Just a quick note here to say how sad I was to hear (via Terry Tao’s blog) of the death yesterday of Bill Thurston, whose work, particularly on 3-manifolds, endeared him to mathematicians and physicists and resulted in the 1982 Fields medal.

A Few Powers of Ten | Cosmic Variance

Via the endlessly enjoyable It’s Okay to Be Smart, here’s a gif image that zooms in by about three orders of magnitude. (Not sure of the original source.) We start by looking at an amphipod, a tiny shrimplike critter about a millimeter across.


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