Disharmony in the desert
Most controversies in science focus on the big questions of our existence - like the nature of matter or the fate of the Universe. But passions can run just as deep in more down-to-earth subjects too. Physics World this month reveals the remarkable story of physicists battling to understand the puzzle of "singing sand dunes" - the strange low-frequency sounds emitted by nothing more than piles of sand in the desert. The two physicists at the heart of the dispute have both come up with different explanations for the sounds, which were first reported by Marco Polo and other travellers some 700 years ago. But their rivalry has become so intense they can no longer bear to work in the same laboratory. (p25).
The doctorate in transition
The PhD used to be seen as the gold standard of scientific education, in which bright young students mastered the art of research through an intensive, three-year project. But the once-vaunted degree is now under pressure as universities - keen to draw in hefty fees and secure lucrative grants - seek to churn out to churn out ever more numbers of doctorates. Even the financial field is desperate for PhD physicists to carry out advanced data analysis and modelling tasks. John McInerney - head of physics at University College Cork - calls for the PhD to be revamped. He wants it to be extended to a minimum of four years so that students have time for a solid piece of research and can also be pick up essential project-management, business and financial skills. (p. 14)
Also in this issue:- Phil Anderson: against reductionism
Dianne Stilwell | alfa
Basque researchers turn light upside down
23.02.2018 | Elhuyar Fundazioa
Attoseconds break into atomic interior
23.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik
A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.
In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...
A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.
By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...
Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
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