Physics Today
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Happy Birthday Margaret Murnane! Born in Limerick, Ireland in 1959, Murnane is an optical physicist at JILA and the University of Colorado in Boulder. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University College Cork in Ireland and a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. For her doctoral thesis, Murnane built a laser that produced pulses as short as 100 femtoseconds (fs)...
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Physics Today
01/20/2017 at 15:21. Facebook
Happy Birthday David Lee! The Nobel laureate was born in Rye, New York, in 1931. After earning his doctorate in physics from Yale in low-temperature physics, he became a professor at Cornell and established the Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics. Working with Robert Richardson and Doug Osheroff in the 1970s, Lee cooled helium-3 to within a few thousandths of a degree of absolute...
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Physics Today
01/19/2017 at 22:56. Facebook
Nanoscopic semiconductor crystals called quantum dots are becoming increasingly popular for use in medical devices, solar panels, and display screens. But some scientists fear that quantum dots are harmful to the environment. In a new study, researchers in India found that microorganisms struggle to survive when exposed to water that is contaminated with cadmium telluride quantum dots. The...
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Exploring the environmental impact of quantum dots

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Physics Today
01/19/2017 at 21:36. Facebook
Photo of the day: Daphnis, Saturn's "wavemaker moon." As NASA's Cassini spacecraft zoomed by Saturn's rings on 16 January, it captured this image of the moon, which measures only 8 km across. Though Daphnis is small, it exerts enough of a gravitational pull to create ripples in the surrounding rings. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)
Physics Today
01/19/2017 at 18:34. Facebook
On President Obama's last full day in office, here is a look back at his achievements and shortcomings with respect to science.

President Obama’s science legacy is big on climate change and clean energy

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Physics Today
01/19/2017 at 15:20. Facebook
Today is the birthday of James Watt, the scientist and inventor whose steam engine helped fuel the Industrial Revolution. He was born in Greenock, Scotland, in 1736. Watt did not invent the first steam engine, but he created an efficient engine that quickly boosted the output of a variety of industries. The Watt engine’s defining component was the condenser—a dedicated chamber for converting...
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Physics Today
01/18/2017 at 22:06. Facebook
"As a first-year postdoc, in front of an audience of some 800 scientists, Debbie went, in a half hour, from being unknown to embodying the future of cold-atom physics." Physicist Deborah Jin gave that talk in 1996 and became a leader in the field. Tragically Jin passed away recently at age 47. Colleague John Bohn wrote an obituary in the latest issue of Physics Today.

Deborah Jin

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Physics Today
01/18/2017 at 20:12. Facebook
It's official: 2016 is Earth's warmest year on record, eclipsing 2015, which had eclipsed 2014. Most scientists expect the three-year streak to end in 2017, since the development of La Niña in the Pacific Ocean tends to lead to lower temperatures. But the trend is clear. This animation by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows how global temperatures have steadily risen...
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2016 Officially Warmest Year on Record

2016 is officially the new warmest year on record, edging out previous record holder 2015 by 0.07°F, according to NOAA. It is the third year in a row that gl...

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Physics Today
01/18/2017 at 18:59. Facebook
In 1954 the US Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) revoked the security clearance of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the "father of the atomic bomb," due to alleged contacts with a Communist sympathizer. Now, 63 years later, the AEC's successor agency, the Department of Energy, is recognizing Oppenheimer by renaming a leadership training program in his honor.

DOE acknowledges J. Robert Oppenheimer

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Physics Today
01/18/2017 at 15:20. Facebook
Today is the birthday of Shoichi Sakata, whose particle physics model was a precursor to the quark model. He was born in Tokyo in 1911. Sakata studied at Kyoto Imperial University under Hideki Yukawa, who would go on to win the 1949 Nobel Prize in Physics. (Sakata is at left in the photo below, talking to Yukawa.) In 1937 Sakata and Yukawa published a paper that expanded upon Yukawa’s meson...
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Physics Today
01/17/2017 at 23:35. Facebook
How do you measure the importance or "prestige" of a scientific journal? For years the controversial metric of choice has been the Journal Impact Factor (JIF), though now it has a competitor called CiteScore. Here is a summary of how the JIF came to be and why the new CiteScore isn't all that different.

Origins of the journal impact factor

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Physics Today
01/17/2017 at 19:15. Facebook
Check out the slow-motion video of oils spraying out of citrus fruit. The pressure introduced by squeezing sends liquid bolting out pores in the skin at high speed.

Scientists shot footage of exploding citrus oils accelerating 1,000 times faster than a space rocket

qz.com
Physics Today
01/17/2017 at 15:30. Facebook
Today is the birthday of Benjamin Franklin, who was born in Boston in 1706. Franklin was not only an influential statesman but also a gifted scientist. His groundbreaking work with electricity made him world renowned and contributed to the beginning of modern physics. Starting in the mid 1740s, Franklin conducted experiments on electricity in collaboration with friends and neighbors, and then...
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Benjamin Franklin and lightning rods

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Physics Today
01/16/2017 at 15:20. Facebook
Happy Birthday Jill Tarter! Born on this day in 1944, Tarter is an astronomer best known for her work in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). Since 1997, she has served as the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI research at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. Among her many contributions to the field was her stint as director of Project Phoenix, which from 1995 to...
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Whether you love or hate the TV show The Big Bang Theory, it's worth reading Smithsonian curator Margaret Weitekamp's take on the image of scientists in the show.

The image of scientists in The Big Bang Theory

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Physicist A. Zee at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has written textbooks on group theory and popular books on modern physics and Chinese culture. Zee talks to Physics Today about his ability to connect with readers of all levels of expertise.

Q&A: A. Zee on explaining physics to any audience

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The architecture of the newly opened Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, Germany, is not only striking, but it's also inspired by physics. The architects used algorithms and worked with an acoustician to lay out 10,000 panels that optimally scatter and absorb sound.

What Happens When Algorithms Design a Concert Hall? The Stunning Elbphilharmonie

wired.com
Scientists have tied a "rope" of 192 atoms into an incredibly tight knot. The work builds on the molecular manipulation research that was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Scientists Have Twisted Molecules Into The Tightest Knot Ever

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On this day in 1939, physicist Otto Frisch (below left) performed an experiment in Copenhagen that provided definitive evidence for nuclear fission. Frisch had worked with his aunt, the physicist Lise Meitner (below right), to explain a previous experiment that had revealed nuclei of barium (atomic number 56) as a byproduct of collisions of neutrons and uranium nuclei (atomic number 92)....
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Charting the position of supermassive black holes within galaxies could confirm or refute modified gravity models, which propose tweaks to Einstein's general relativity.

Testing theories of modified gravity

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