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Ukranian physicists uprooted by war, behemoth telescopes that cost a billion dollars or more, and more

Free content from this month's issue of Physics Today now available online

American Institute of Physics

WASHINGTON D.C., August 4, 2015 -- The following articles are freely available online from Physics Today, the world's most influential and closely followed magazine devoted to physics and the physical science community.

You are invited to read, share, blog about, link to, or otherwise enjoy:

1) IS PHYSICS RESEARCH ANOTHER CASUALTY OF UKRAINIAN CONFLICT?

David Kramer of Physics Today discusses the negative impact that the conflict in eastern Ukraine has had on physicists and students forced to relocate from their homes and universities.

"More than 25 universities and research institutes with physical sciences programs have been forced to relocate from the separatist-controlled areas of the Donbass, an eastern region that includes the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk...

Some 12,000 scientists from the Donbass were uprooted by the conflict, according to Ukrainian Physical Society president Maksym Strikha, who recently became the country's deputy minister for education and science."

MORE: http://bit.ly/1gHlJd5

2) A SATELLITE VIEW OF THE TRAGEDY IN KATHMANDU

This issue's Back Scatter is an InSAR look at the Nepal earthquake that killed more than 8800 people last April. The interferogram, calculated by University of California, San Diego's David Sandwell, reveals that Earth's surface had a peak rise of more than 1 meter outside Kathmandu and a drop of 0.8 meters to the north.

"The magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck Nepal some 80 km northwest of the country's capital, Kathmandu, on 25 April 2015 was the largest to hit the region in 80 years. The temblor was shallow--only 15 km--and the slip region extended for an estimated 120 km east-southeast along the boundary where the Indian tectonic plate is subducting under the Eurasian plate. Including aftershocks, one of which was magnitude 7.3, the event killed more than 8,800 people and injured more than 20,000."

MORE: http://bit.ly/1KO39fV

3) HEAVY ELEMENTS PUSH THE BOUNDARIES OF THE PERIODIC TABLE

In this feature, scientific leader of the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions Yuri Oganessian and Oak Ridge National Laboratory senior researcher Krzysztof Rykaczewski discuss recent experimental efforts to synthesize elements far heavier than uranium and their impact on the periodic table and the Segrè chart of nuclides.

"The overarching questions are far from trivial. Where is the end of the periodic table? What is the heaviest nucleus? How do properties evolve for extreme numbers of protons, neutrons, and electrons?"

MORE: http://bit.ly/1KO3hvU

4) MASSIVE UNDERTAKING TO FINISH BEHEMOTH TELESCOPES

Physics Today's Toni Feder reports on the obstacles facing construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope, Giant Magellan Telescope, and European Extremely Large Telescope, three gigantic optical-IR telescopes that will be used to study black holes, dark energy, and other astrophysical phenomena and to search for signs of extraterrestrial life.

"Each project faces its own technical, financial, and social hurdles; in particular, the GMT still has half a billion dollars to raise, and some native Hawaiians strongly oppose the building of the TMT on a mountain they hold sacred. But to first order, says Jochen Liske, acting program scientist for the E-ELT, 'The challenge for all three projects is getting things right and producing a telescope that works.' They all aim to have first light in the early to mid 2020s."

MORE: http://bit.ly/1M2WGwo

5) READING DNA AND BIOSENSING WITH NANOPORES

In this feature, University of Massachusetts Amherst professor Murugappan Muthukumar, Delft University of Technology postdoctoral researcher Calin Plesa, and Kavli Institute of Nanoscience Delft director Cees Dekker discuss how a 70-year-old idea for measuring blood cells has evolved into a powerful, versatile tool for studying DNA, proteins, and other biomolecules.

" Conventional sequencing methods use a shotgun approach whereby a long strand is fragmented into small pieces -- each perhaps 100 base pairs or so in length. Those strands are then independently analyzed, either by a combination of gel electrophoresis and chemical analysis or by fluorescence techniques. Nanopore sequencing, by contrast, can potentially offer very long read length, high speed, and low cost; it is label-free; and it can be done at the single-molecule level."

MORE: http://bit.ly/1SZTJgi

6) STABILIZING QUANTUM CASCADE LASERS FOR THE MID-IR

For interrogating molecular vibrations in the mid-infrared, physicists often turn to quantum cascade lasers, which regrettably exhibit short-term frequency fluctuations of tens to thousands of kilohertz. To remedy this, a team of researchers at the Laser Physics Laboratory in Paris has developed a method of stabilizing a mid-IR QCL laser by locking it to an ultrastable near-IR laser across town. Physics Today's Johanna Miller reports.

"Do chiral molecules and their mirror images vibrate at exactly the same frequencies? Or, as theorists have suggested, does the electroweak interaction's known nonconservation of parity introduce a slight difference? A team of researchers at the Laser Physics Laboratory in Paris is engaged in a long-term project to answer that question."

MORE: http://bit.ly/1JK8lzQ

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