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Over a century after its discovery, the proton still keeps physicists busy understanding its basic properties, but a new generation of experiments may help finally nail down its radius, stability and the origin of its spin.
A paper in Communications Physics reports that cornstarch suspensions flowing down slopes form ripples like water does — but via a completely different mechanism, which involves their unusual rheology.
A Nature paper reports on the conversion of microwave-frequency quantum excitations of a superconducting qubit into photons at optical telecommunication frequencies, a step closer to realizing a working quantum transducer.
A paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that the ridges on finger pads promote grip by acting as a microfluidic array that maintains optimal moisture levels and by deforming when wet to block sweat pores.
Understanding the first few minutes of the Universe has been hampered by uncertainty in the cross section of the so-called deuterium burning process. A paper in Nature reports a much-improved cross section, putting models of the early Universe on firmer footing.
Whereas high-temperature superconductivity in cuprates has been studied for 30 years, during the past year it has been reported in nickelates. This raises new questions for physicists and chemists about the mechanism of superconductivity.
In 2000, David DiVincenzo gave a set of basic criteria for building a quantum computer, which have guided research for the past 20 years. Today, despite not all the criteria having been cleared, additional complex requirements have emerged.
Strong experimental evidence for the existence of the simplest type of anyons (particles that are neither bosons nor fermions) has emerged this year. The next step is to uncover more exotic types of anyons, such as Majorana fermions.
The first quantum error-correcting code was devised by Peter Shor 25 years ago. Ever since there have been numerous advances on both the theoretical and experimental fronts, and quantum error correction turned out to have unexpected applications.
The 5 years since the first detection of gravitational waves have witnessed the rise of multi-messenger astronomy, a field that expands our understanding of astrophysical processes and reshapes the way science is done.
Faced with an economic crisis as large and rapid as that precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, economists have turned to new ‘fast indicators’ based on big data, as Andy Haldane and Shiv Chowla of the Bank of England explain.
János Kertész and Johannes Wachs discuss how complexity science and network science are particularly useful for identifying and describing the hidden traces of economic misbehaviour such as fraud and corruption.
Alec Habig and Kate Scholberg describe the Supernova Early Warning System (SNEWS), an international network of neutrino detectors aimed to alert the astronomical community if supernova neutrinos are detected.
Sarah Antier describes the Global Rapid Advanced Network Devoted to the Multi-messenger Addicts (GRANDMA), which aims to identify and characterize the electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational wave sources
The Solar system is chaotic, making its long-term future hard to predict. A paper in Physical Review Letters shows that help may come in the form of instantons, more commonly used in statistical mechanics and gauge field theories.
Andrew Levan and Peter Jonker discuss, on behalf of the Electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational wave sources at the Very Large Telescope (ENGRAVE), how the collaboration was formed and what its goals are in the era of multi-messenger astronomy.
Over the past decade, several X-ray free-electron laser (XFEL) facilities have been constructed and started operation worldwide. New, high-repetition XFELs are expected to open to users in the next 5 years.
Why the Hall conductance is quantized was an open problem in condensed matter theory for much of the past 40 years. Spyridon Michalakis who worked on the solution — published in 2015 — gives a personal take on how the field evolved.
Analysis of citation behaviours in neuroscience indicate that papers led by men are cited more than would be expected based on other characteristics; the discrepancy is most prominent in the citation behaviours of men and is getting worse over time.
Miguel Mostafa describes the Astrophysical Multimessenger Observatory Network (AMON), an online network that enables real-time coincidence searches using data from the leading multimessenger observatories and astronomical facilities.
The development of a new generation of detectors has been key to the success of X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs). Anna Bergamaschi, Aldo Mozzanica and Bernd Schmitt discuss the advances in detector technology made over the past 10 years and examine the challenges presented by emerging high-repetition-rate XFEL facilities.
The European XFEL is the first hard X-ray high-repetition-rate free-electron laser facility. Sakura Pascarelli, Serguei Molodtsov and Thomas Tschentscher, scientific directors of the European XFEL, discuss the challenges that lie ahead before the European XFEL can reach its full potential and cater for an international and diverse community of users.
The first decade of X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) has led to technological advances and scientific discoveries, but has also highlighted several facility-level challenges. Chi-Chang Kao, Director of SLAC, discusses the lessons to be learned from the first 10 years of operation and shares his thoughts on how facilities can overcome challenges facing XFEL development.
X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) have rapidly developed into unique tools for probing diverse systems of interest to different scientific disciplines with angstrom–femtosecond resolution. Claudio Pellegrini provides an overview of the milestones in the development of XFELs and their unique capabilities.
Two papers in Nature report strong coupling between photons and free, unbound electrons. This opens up the possibility for higher resolution, ultrafast imaging using lower energy and less-destructive electron beams.
The rise of machine learning is moving research away from tightly controlled, theory-guided experiments towards an approach based on data-driven searches. Abbas Ourmazd describes how this change might profoundly affect our understanding and practice of physics.
Twenty-five years ago, a paper by Ignacio Cirac and Peter Zoller turned quantum computing from a bold theoretical idea to an experimental race to build an actual device. Today, engineering challenges remain, but first-generation practical quantum computers seem tangible.