Physics and Astronomy

This area deals with the fundamental laws and building blocks of nature and how they interact, the properties and the behavior of matter, and research into space and time and their structures.

innovations-report provides in-depth reports and articles on subjects such as astrophysics, laser technologies, nuclear, quantum, particle and solid-state physics, nanotechnologies, planetary research and findings (Mars, Venus) and developments related to the Hubble Telescope.

New superconducting transformer is light and compact

Researchers from the Technology Foundation STW and the University of Twente, in cooperation with Smit Transformatoren and Smit Draad, have developed a prototype coil for a superconducting transformer which is not only light and compact but also energy-efficient. A keen interest has already been expressed by several companies.

The coil is made from superconducting wires, insulated using a newly patented method. Furthermore, together with Smit Transformatoren the researchers have developed a m

Scientists detect first afterglow of short gamma-ray bursts

In the powerful, fast-fading realm of gamma-ray bursts, scientists say they have detected for the first time a lingering afterglow of the shortest types of bursts, which themselves disappear within a second.

This afterglow, radiating in X rays, may provide crucial insight into what triggers the mysterious bursts, the most energetic explosions in the Universe, second only to the big bang in total power. Previously, scientists had only detected the afterglow of longer bursts, which can last fr

Star trek criteria

Interstellar travellers should be “motivated, tolerant and nice”.

One hundred and sixty fertile, motivated, English speakers could make it to distant stars, researchers have worked out. But generations down the line, returning voyagers may speak an alien tongue.

Travel to planets orbiting other stars will soon be technically possible, the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences in Boston heard last week. But the 200-year odyssey will require a cer

ESA scientist discovers a way to shortlist stars that might have planets

Markus Landgraf of the European Space Agency and colleagues (*) have found the first direct evidence that a bright disc of dust surrounds our Solar System, starting beyond the orbit of Saturn.

Remarkably, their discovery gives astronomers a way to determine which other stars in the Galaxy are most likely to harbour planets and allows mission planners to draw up a ’short-list’ of stars to be observed by ESA’s future planet-search missions, Eddington and Darwin.

The discovery of th

Hubble gets revitalised in new Servicing Mission for more and better science!

After nearly 12 years of incredible scientific discoveries, the ESA/NASA Hubble Space Telescope orbiting Earth is about to have another service visit. The purpose is to upgrade Hubble system and to install newer and more powerful instruments that will astoundingly increase Hubble’s discovery capabilities and extend the longevity of the observatory.

As a unique collaboration between the European Space Agency (ESA), and NASA, Hubble has had a phenomenal scientific impact. The unsurpassed sha

First view of a newborn millisecond pulsar?

Combining Hubble Space Telescope images with radio observations has revealed a highly unusual system consisting of a fast spinning pulsar and a bloated red companion star. The existence of the system is something of a mystery – the best explanation so far is that we have our first view of a millisecond pulsar just after it has been `spun up` by its red companion star.

Although more than 90 specimens of the exotic species of fast-spinning `millisecond pulsars` are known today, no observation

Exploding star strafed Earth

A supernova may have caused mass extinction two million years ago.

The explosion of a dying star could have ended much of marine life on Earth two million years ago. The supernova could have strafed the Earth’s atmosphere with cosmic rays, severely damaging the ozone layer and exposing living organisms to high levels of the Sun’s hazardous ultraviolet rays, US researchers propose 1 .

This idea dates back to the 1950s, but now Narciso Benítez of Johns Hopkins

A voyage from space to sea with Envisat

Envisat, whose launch is scheduled end of February 2002, will tirelessly sweep the Earth`s surface and atmosphere, using a suite of ten different scientific instruments.

Over a 35-day cycle, the satellite`s orbit will cover the entire planet, and then start all over again. Two thirds of the time it will be over water. Because of the sheer size of the oceanic currents, the complexity of thermal exchanges, and ocean-atmosphere coupling, the ocean is a crucial factor in explaining the w

Event horizon dawns on desktop

Miniature physics phenomena could show hidden shades of space.

An event horizon is dawning in laboratories. Using frozen light, physicists hope to mimic this peculiar cosmic phenomenon and glimpse something like the belches of a black hole.

At the event horizon – the rim of a voracious black hole – dimensions as we know them disappear. To an observer on a spaceship, light and time appear to stand still. A floating spaceman would seem to slow and stop.

“It’s very d

Gravity leaps into quantum world

Researchers finally measure the subtle quantum effects of fourth fundamental force.

Far from falling smoothly, objects moving under gravity do so in lurching, quantum leaps, a French experiment has revealed 1 . The finding confirms that gravity, like the Universe’s three other fundamental forces, can have a quantum effect.

Particles, such as electrons confined to their orbital shells around the nucleus of an atom, are restricted by the rules of quantum mechan

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