APS in the News

News stories referencing or stemming from APS journals, meetings, and programs.

Archived APS in the News
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2017

Possible Hierarchy Problem Solution
January 4, 2017
One of the unanswered questions in particle physics is the hierarchy problem, which has implications for understanding why some of the fundamental forces are so much stronger than others. A newly proposed solution involves multiple (up to 1016) copies of the Standard Model, each with a different Higgs vacuum expectation value.
Article: PhysOrg
Abstract: Physical Review Letters

Test Probes Equivalence Principle, General Relativity, and Spacetime 'Foam'
January 5, 2017
Physicists have performed a test designed to investigate the effects of the expansion of the universe — hoping to answer questions such as "does it affect laboratory experiments?" and "does spacetime have a foam-like structure that slightly changes the speed of photons over time?"­, an idea that could shed light on the connection between general relativity and quantum gravity.
Article: PhysOrg
Abstract: Physical Review Letters

What's Causing These Eerie Spinning Ice Discs?
January 10, 2017
Physics causes some strange phenomena, like slowly-rotating discs of ice on a frozen river that resemble UFO saucers. But have no fear, science is here to explain away your excitement.
Article: Gizmodo
Abstract: Physical Review E

Shimmering Soap Bubbles Have A Dark Side
January 12, 2017
Zoom in on a soap bubble just before it bursts and brilliant, complex patterns emerge. Shimmery rainbows appear in thicker portions of the soap film, while clusters of dark spots appear in the thinnest regions. Over about a minute, those spots grow and merge. This effect, known as “coarsening,” pops up in other places too, but this is the first time physicists have studied the details of the effect in bubbles.
Article: Science News
Abstract: APS Division of Fluid Dynamics 2016

Violations of energy conservation in the early universe may explain dark energy
January 20, 2017
Physicists have proposed that violations of energy conservation in the early universe, as predicted by certain modified theories of quantum mechanics and quantum gravity, may explain the cosmological constant problem, which is sometimes referred to as "the worst theoretical prediction in the history of physics."
Article: PhysOrg
Abstract: Physical Review Letters

Scientists Have Made A New Kind Of Invisibility Cloak
January 22, 2017
Concealing objects in direct light is already a difficult feat. While there is ongoing research into invisibility cloaks of some form or other, researchers at the Public University of Navarre (NUP/UPNA) and the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) are taking a not-so-straightforward approach. In particular, they are interested in developing a cloaking mechanism that works by bending light.
Article: Futurism
Abstract: Physical Review A

Quasi-Phase Transition Spotted In Water-Filled Carbon Nanotubes
January 23, 2017
The optical properties of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) change when the tiny structures are filled with water. That is the conclusion of scientists in Belgium and the US, who attribute the change to a "quasi-phase transition" that occurs in the water — although the exact nature of the transition is unknown.
Article: Physics World
Abstract: Physical Review Letters

Presenting time crystals, physics' newest material
January 26, 2017
Crystals feature an atomic lattice structure repeated in space. Time crystals repeat their atomic structure in time. Norman Yao, a physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, laid out the theoretical blueprint for time crystals in a paper published last week in the journal Physical Review Letters.
Article: UPI
Viewpoint: Physics

Spin May Reveal Black Hole History
January 30, 2017
Researchers have devised a test to see if pairs of black holes — famous for creating gravitational waves when they merge — themselves formed from multiple mergers of smaller black holes.
Article: Science News
Abstract: APS April Meeting 2017

Hunting Dark Matter With GPS Data
January 30, 2017
A team of physicists has used data from GPS satellites to hunt for dark matter, the mysterious stuff whose gravity appears to hold galaxies together. They found no signs of a hypothetical type of dark matter, which consists of flaws in the fabric of space called topological defects.
Article: Science Now
Abstract: APS April Meeting 2017

Analogue Black Hole Could Be Made From Plasma Mirror
January 30, 2017
An analogue to the creation of Hawking radiation at the event horizon of a black hole could be made by firing an intense laser pulse at specially designed targets. That's the conclusion of physicists in Taiwan and France, who say that the "plasma mirror" created in the proposed experiment could be used to study the relationship between quantum particles inside and outside a black hole.
Article: Physics World
Synopsis: Physics

Are we living in a giant hologram?
January 30, 2017
A new study suggests the universe is a hologram. Cosmologists have long struggled to develop a unified model of the universe. Problems arise when trying to forge an agreement between models used to describe the cosmos at different scales — general relativity and quantum theory.
Article: UPI
Abstract: Physical Review Letters

NASA's Fermi telescope spots record-breaking blazars
January 31, 2017
Monster black holes shooting jets of gamma-ray radiation right at us have been spotted farther away than ever before, dating back to when the universe was nearly one-tenth its current age.
Article: Scientific American
Abstract: APS April Meeting 2017

'Hidden' Solar Flares Linked To High-Energy Gamma-Rays For 1st Time
January 31, 2017
Solar eruptions hidden by the light of the sun are releasing bursts of energy roughly 30 times more powerful than ever seen before, and for the first time, an international team of scientists has associated these hidden flares with high-energy gamma-rays.
Article: Space.com
Abstract: APS April Meeting 2017

Physicists seek neutron lifetime's secret
February 1, 2017
Lone neutrons quickly decay, but scientists don’t agree on how long the particles stick around before their demise. New experiments could resolve the dispute — or deepen the mystery.
Article: Science News
Abstract: APS April Meeting 2017

Russia Open To Increased Cooperation With The United States On Space Programs
February 1, 2017
The Russian ambassador to the United States said Jan. 31 that Russia would be open to enhanced cooperation in space should the Trump administration pursue improved relations between the countries.
Article: Space News
Abstract: APS April Meeting 2017

Yale Researchers Create Liquid Metal That Mimics Earth's Magnetic Core
February 2, 2017
Researchers at Yale University have made a new material from liquid metal and magnetic particles. When flowing, its ability to generate and modify magnetic fields is up to five times stronger than pure liquid metal.
Article: Daily Mail
Abstract: Physical Review Fluids

The Thermodynamics Of Learning
February 6, 2017
While investigating how efficiently the brain can learn new information, physicists have found that, at the neuronal level, learning efficiency is ultimately limited by the laws of thermodynamics — the same principles that limit the efficiency of many other familiar processes.
Article: PhysOrg
Abstract: Physical Review Letters

Starlight test shows quantum world has been weird for 600 years
February 7, 2017
Our universe has been ruled by weirdness for at least six centuries. If the quantum effects in a new experiment aren’t genuine, but are somehow caused by past meddling, then that is how long ago it must have happened – a finding that makes would-be alternatives to quantum theory even more unlikely.
Article: New Scientist
Synopsis: Physics

Never-Before-Seen Topological Solitons Experimentally Realized In Liquid Crystals
February 7, 2017
Physicists have discovered that dozens of 3-D knotted structures called "topological solitons" can be created and frozen for long periods of time in liquid crystals like those used in electronic displays. Until now, topological solitons have been realized only in a few experiments, and for such a short time that it has been impossible to study them in any detail.
Article: PhysOrg
Abstract: Physical Review X

LIGO Doesn't Just Detect Gravitational Waves. It Makes Them, Too
February 7, 2017
The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) is not only the most sensitive detector of ripples in spacetime. It also happens to be the world's best producer of gravitational waves, a team of physicists now calculates.
Article: Science Now
Abstract: APS April Meeting 2017

Decaying Atoms Feel A Tiny Frictional Force, Say Physicists
February 9, 2017
An excited atom decaying in a vacuum experiences a force very similar to friction, according to calculations done by physicists in the U.K. At first sight, the result appears to violate Einstein's equivalence principle. However, the researchers calculate that, in fact, relativity rides to its own rescue, and the mass lost from the atom as it decays to the ground state allows it to lose momentum without slowing down.
Article: Physics World
Abstract: Physical Review Letters

Irish Scientists Create Math Formula For Better Soft Membrane Tech Results
February 18, 2017
The technology behind materials used in artificial muscles and ‘smart clothes’ could be significantly advanced thanks to new Irish research.
Article: Irish Examiner
Abstract: Physical Review Letters

Scientists SMASH Five Of The Biggest Mysteries Of Modern Physics
Fenbruary 20, 2017
It’s five theories for the price of one. One of the most ambitious physics theories in recent times claims to have solved five of the biggest head-scratchers in particle physics – each of them likely worthy of a Nobel prize in their own right.
Article: Cosmos
Synopsis: Physics

Physicists Investigate Erasing Information At Zero Energy Cost
February 22, 2017
A few years ago, physicists showed that it's possible to erase information without using any energy, showing that the cost of erasure could be paid in terms of an arbitrary physical quantity such as spin angular momentum. New results reveal insight into the thermodynamics of spin and could also guide the development of future applications.
Article: PhysOrg
Abstract: Physical Review Letters

That crumpled candy wrapper remembers what you did
February 23, 2017
Take a look at that crumpled-up piece of litter on your desk, compressed by the laws of physics and tossed aside. It remembers what you did, even if no one else does.
Article: Gizmodo
Viewpoint: Physics

The Physics Of Ice Bridges
February 28, 2017
A new model describes how floating ice can get jammed in a narrow strait, creating a giant frozen walkway.
Article: Inside Science
Synopsis: Physics

Meet The 'Angulon' Quasiparticle
March 3, 2017
The quasiparticle concept allows physicists to describe complex, many-body interactions in terms of the behaviour of a single particle-like entity. Usually these particles turn up in condensed-matter systems such as semiconductors, but a new type of quasiparticle known as an angulon has been proposed to describe the rotation of an atomic or molecular impurity within a solvent.
Article: Physics World
Viewpoint: Physics

Neutrinos Should Help Identify Supernovae Types
March 3, 2017
A team of researchers at North Carolina State University has found that current and future neutrino detectors placed around the world should be capable of detecting neutrinos emitted from a relatively close supernova.
Article: PhysOrg
Synopsis: Physics

A Slowdown At The Sun's Surface Explained
March 10, 2017
Never underestimate the power of a little sunlight. Light particles, or photons, emitted from the sun’s surface, could explain a long-standing solar mystery — why the sun’s outermost layers rotate more slowly than its core.
Article: Science News
Focus: Physics

Butterfly On The Wall
March 10, 2017
There's no end to the patterns you can discover in numbers. You might even stumble on one that nobody has seen before. That’s Douglas Hofstadter’s ‘endlessly rich world.’
Article: Live Mint
Session: APS March Meeting 2017

Frozen Droplets Explode On Camera
March 13, 2017
Water expands when it freezes, so scientists wondered what would happen if water was frozen from the outside in. Answer: It explodes. The researchers filmed their water-droplet experiment, offering a slow-motion view of the exploding ice.
Article: Live Science
Synopsis: Physics

Superfluid Helium Behaves Like Black Holes
March 16, 2017
Black holes and superfluids make for strange bedfellows: One is famous for being so dense that light can’t escape, and the other is a bizarre liquid that flows without friction. But new computer simulations confirm that superfluid helium follows an unusual rule known from black holes — one with mysterious significance for physics.
Article: Science News
Abstract: APS March Meeting 2017

Meet Physics Girl
March 16, 2017
Dianna Cowern — a.k.a. Physics Girl — has one of those invent-it-yourself jobs that exist only in the age of the internet. In 2011, she graduated with an undergraduate degree in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. That year she also began a YouTube channel, posting videos explaining various physical effects.
Article: Science Now
Abstract: APS March Meeting 2017

World's Lakes Are Much Shallower Than
March 17, 2017
The world’s lakes are only about two-thirds as deep, on average, as previously thought, researchers reported last week at a meeting of the American Physical Society. If correct, the finding could help climate scientists more accurately model global climate change, as shallower lakes generate more heat-trapping methane gas.
Article: Science Now
Abstract: APS March Meeting 2017

Introducing A New Kind Of Microscope
March 17, 2017
Scientists have developed a new kind of microscope that can detect tiny changes in a material's delicate magnetic field. The instrument could help researchers make progress on many frontier problems in physics, such as understanding how superconductivity and magnetism interact, and designing better data storage devices.
Article: Inside Science
Abstract: APS March Meeting 2017
Viewpoint: Physics

Single-Atom Magnets Store Bits Of Data
March 20, 2017
The tiniest electronic gadgets have nothing on a new data-storage device. Each bit is encoded using the magnetic field of a single atom — making for extremely compact data storage, although researchers have stored only two bits of data so far.
Article: Science News
Abstract: APS March Meeting 2017

Life On Earth May Have Begun As Dividing Droplets
March 21, 2017
In a primordial soup on ancient Earth, droplets of chemicals may have paved the way for the first cells. Shape-shifting droplets split, grow and split again in new computer simulations. The result indicates that simple chemical blobs can exhibit replication, one of the most basic properties of life.
Article: Science News
Abstract: APS March Meeting 2017

Raindrop Crater
March 23, 2017
Craters left by bombs and asteroids get all the press, but what happens when a raindrop plows into sandy soil? To find out, scientists used syringes to create droplets of a consistent size, then released the drops over a bed of tiny glass beads meant to represent loose sand. The more tightly packed the beads, the shallower the crater.
Article: Science Now
Abstract: Physical Review E

Portal Might Link Standard Model To Dark Physics
March 24, 2017
Theoretical physicists have put forward a new hypothesis that aims to connect the world of visible physics to the hidden forces of our Universe: what if there's a portal that bridges the gap between the standard model to dark matter and dark energy?
Article: Science Alert
Abstract: Physical Review Letters

Origami Microscopic Machines
March 24, 2017
Thirty years ago, a professor in Japan folded an origami crane smaller than a pinhead. Peering through a microscope, he used a sewing needle to carefully crimp the paper. Now researchers at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, have gone one step further, creating origami about the size of a red blood cell. Too small for human hands, their origami folds itself. This new take on an old tradition is made not from paper, but from sheets of glass and carbon only a few atoms thick.
Article: Inside Science
Abstract: APS March Meeting 2017

Playing Nuclear Chess With North Korea
March 29, 2017
Earlier this month, North Korea threatened to retaliate with nuclear weapons if the U.S. or South Korea "fire even a single bullet" at the sovereign state. While this seemingly extreme statement fits the mainstream narrative of a paranoid regime, some experts hold a different view.
Article: Inside Science
Abstract: APS March Meeting 2017

Entangled Photons Can Originate From Different Points In Space
March 30, 2017
Our intuitions about how things are, or should be, serve us well in our daily lives. But that’s only because in the macroscopic level of reality that we inhabit, we don’t have to deal with the weirdness and “spookiness” that emerges in the realm of subatomic particles.
Article: International Business Times
Abstract: Physical Review Letters

Dust To Dust, Boulders To Boulders
April 2, 2017
Back in 2005 a small asteroid, known as 25143 Itokawa, was visited by the unmanned Japanese spacecraft, Hayabusa. Close up images of the asteroid – which measures approximately 540m by 250m – revealed that the “lowlands” were covered by dust and centimeter-sized small pebbles, whilst the “highlands” were made up of larger boulders (5 to 40m diameter). But how did this segregation come about?
Article: The Guardian
Focus: Physics

Route To High-Speed Quantum Computing Paved With Error
April 3, 2017
When it comes to quantum computing, mostly I get excited about experimental results rather than ideas for new hardware. New devices—or new ways to implement old devices — may end up being useful, but we won't know for sure when the results are in. If we are to grade existing ideas by their usefulness, then adiabatic quantum computing has to be right up there, since you can use it to perform some computations now.
Article: Ars Technica
Abstract: Physical Review Letters

Bell correlations measured in 500,000 atoms
April 7 2017
Bell correlations – a hallmark of an entangled quantum system – have been spotted in an ensemble of 500,000 rubidium-87 atoms. The atoms were prepared in spin-squeezed states by physicists at Stanford University in the US and the correlations measured to a whopping statistical significance of 124σ.
Article: Physics World
Abstract: Physical Review Letters

New Insight Into The Riemann hypothesis
April 7, 2017
Researchers have discovered that the solutions to a famous mathematical function called the Riemann zeta function correspond to the solutions of another, different kind of function that may make it easier to solve one of the biggest problems in mathematics: the Riemann hypothesis. If the results can be rigorously verified, then it would finally prove the Riemann hypothesis, which is worth a $1,000,000 Millennium Prize from the Clay Mathematics Institute.
Article: PhysOrg
Abstract: Physical Review Letters

Diamonds Coupled Using Quantum Physics
April 10, 2017
Atomic defects in diamonds can be used as quantum memories. For the first time, researchers have succeeded in coupling the defects in various diamonds using quantum physics.
Article: NanoWerk
Abstract: Physical Review Letters

Unusual Force Acting On Nanoparticles
April 10, 2017
Different sets of rules govern matter at different scales. As nanotechnologies becomes smaller, scientists are paying closer attention to the physical laws of infinitesimal scales.
Article: UPI
Abstract: Physical Review Letters

There Are Way Worse Ways Carbon Monoxide Can Kill You
April 12, 2017
Us Earthlings are quite lucky to be living at around standard temperature and pressure. Life has evolved to comfortably handle the shapes in which most molecules have arranged themselves under temperatures of about 32 degrees Fahrenheit and atmospheric pressures of an average day at sea level. But on other planets, at other temperatures and pressures, lots of things we take for granted would probably just kill us. Even the usual killers might be worse.
Article: Gizmodo
Abstract: Physical Review B

Negative Mass Fluid
April 13, 2017
Scientists claim to have created a fluid with negative mass, meaning it behaves unlike every physical object in the world. When an object with mass is pushed, it will accelerate in the direction of the force, whereas one with negative mass will accelerate toward the force pushing it.
Article: iNews
Abstract: Physical Review Letters

Three-Photon Interference Measured At Long Last
April 17, 2017
Quantum interference involving three photons has been measured by two independent teams of physicists. Seeing the effect requires the ability to deliver three indistinguishable photons to the same place at the same time and also to ensure that much more common single-photon and two-photon interference effects are eliminated from the measurements.
Article: Physics World
Viewpoint: Physics

Does space heat up when you accelerate?
April 14, 2017
More than 40 years ago, a leading relativity theorist made a surprising prediction. Whereas empty space should feel immeasurably cold to any observer gliding along at a constant speed, one who is accelerating, say because he's riding a rocket, would find empty space hot. This so-called Unruh effect seemed practically impossible to measure, but now four theorists claim they have devised a doable experiment that could confirm the underlying physics.
Article: Science
Abstract: Physical Review Letters

Physicists Sketch Plans For A Matter-Wave Tractor Beam
May 15, 2017
A team of physicists have outlined a means of making tractor beams to push and pull objects at a distance using “matter waves”, strange analogues of light waves that underlie quantum mechanics. Tractor beams, staple tools of science fiction for remotely pulling in space shuttles and yanking away incoming space debris, have been edging into reality in recent years.
Article: Cosmos
Synopsis: Physical Review Letters

Antiproton Count Hints At Dark Matter Annihilation
May 11, 2017
Whiffs of dark matter may be blowing in on a cosmic ray breeze. Antiprotons streaming down on Earth from space could be hinting at the existence of the invisible substance, two teams of researchers suggest.
Article: Science News
Synopsis: Physical Review Letters

Single Atoms Feel Tidal Force
May 11, 2017
Physicists have used interferometry to detect the minute tidal forces acting on individual atoms exposed to a local gravitational field. This allowed them to measure the curvature of space–time on a very small scale and argue that their observations are perhaps "the first of gravity in a quantum-mechanical system."
Article: Physics World
Viewpoint: Physics

Physicists Predict Supercurrent Driven By Potential Information Transfer
May 10, 2017
Physicists have theoretically shown that a superconducting current of electrons can be induced to flow by a new kind of transport mechanism: the potential flow of information. This unusual phenomenon is predicted to exist in chiral channels—channels in which electrons are usually restricted to flowing in one direction only—but has never been theoretically demonstrated before now.
Article: Phys Org
Abstract: Physical Review Letters

Swirling Bacteria Linked To The Physics Of Phase Transitions
May 4, 2017
At first glance, the movie didn’t seem like much: a chaotic swarm of E. coli bacteria twiddling this way and that in a petri dish, seemingly at random. Such scenes are daily fare in bacteriology labs around the world.
Article: Quanta Magazine
Abstract: APS March Meeting 2017
Abstract: Physical Review E
Abstract: Physical Review Letters
Abstract: Physical Review Letters

Atom Interferometry Heats Up With Warm-Vapor Device
May 1, 2017
An atom interferometer that does not have to be cooled to cryognenic temperatures has been created by physicists in the U.S. The new device instead employs a cell of warm vapor. The absence of bulky cooling equipment means the device could potentially feature in simple atomic sensors designed for a range of applications – including measuring accelerations with great precision.
Article: Physics World
Viewpoint: Physics

Stray Wi-Fi Signals Could Let Spies See Inside Closed Rooms
April 28, 2017
Your wireless router may be giving you away in manner you never dreamed of. For the first time, physicists have used radio waves from a Wi-Fi transmitter to encode a 3D image of a real object in a hologram similar to the image of Princess Leia projected by R2D2 in the movie Star Wars. In principle, the technique could enable outsiders to "see" the inside of a room using only the Wi-Fi signals leaking out of it, although some researchers say such spying may be easier said than done.
Article: Science Magazine
Focus: Physics

The Search Is On For Elusive Particle Decay
April 27, 2017           
A U.S. experiment to search for neutrinoless double-beta decay has got the green light to start operations. The Majorana Demonstrator, located at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in South Dakota, received "Critical Decision 4" from the Department of Energy (DOE) in March. The decision certifies that the experiment met its "performance parameters", including the need for ultra-low background measurements.
Article: Physics World
Abstract: Physical Review Letters

Does Dark Matter Exist? Computer Simulations Of Formation Of Galaxies Suggest It Does
April 24, 2017
A new study, based on supercomputer simulations that modeled the behavior of galaxies over billions of years of cosmic evolution, shows that the presence of dark matter can explain the diverse population of galaxies in the present-day universe.
Article: International Business Times
Abstract: Physical Review Letters

Indian Scientists Find New Ways To Detect 'Naked Singularity'
April 21, 2017
In a significant theoretical advance, a team of scientists from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) has found novel ways to detect a bare or naked "singularity" - the most extreme object in the universe.
Article: The Economic Times
Abstract: Physical Review D

New Laser Technique Improves Neutron Yield
April 21, 2017
A team of researchers from several institutions in China has developed a new way to produce neutrons that they claim improves on conventional methods by a factor of 100. In their paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, the team describes the new method and the results they obtained when testing it.
Article: PhysOrg
Synopsis: Physics

The First Quantum Computer You Own Could Be Powered By A Time Crystal
April 18, 2017
Now that researchers have created time crystals, the next step is to understand more about this bizarre material. A team of researchers from Harvard University are doing just that in order to explore potential applications of time crystals.
Article: Futurism
Viewpoint: Physics

There's Still A Lot We Don't Know About The Proton
April 18, 2017
Nuclear physicist Evangeline Downie hadn’t planned to study one of the thorniest puzzles of the proton. But when opportunity knocked, Downie couldn’t say no. “It’s the proton,” she exclaims. The mysteries that still swirl around this jewel of the subatomic realm were too tantalizing to resist.
Articles: Science News
Abstract: Physical Review D