Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Category Archives: Physics

Journal Club: A physicist’s take on the age-old ecological puzzle of how species form communities

Ecologists have long searched for the rules that govern how individual species join together to form a community. Whether forest or desert, the problem is complex. Myriad factors influence a community’s composition and stability —from how strongly species compete to … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Why does water form on icy surfaces? New model solves century-old mystery

Even in freezing temperatures, an ice cube can form a nanometers-thick sheen of water on its surface. This peculiar behavior, often called surface melting or pre-melting, was first proposed by Michael Faraday in 1846 as an ever-present precursor to actual … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Finding new ways to store higher-density information with ferroelectric materials

Recent findings suggest early proof of principle for a new way to read, write and erase information in much smaller areas than conventional memory. The method entails ferroelectric thin films, which store information using the domains’ polarization directions like the … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Friction of the vacuum could slow the rotation of pulsars

A vacuum is by definition a space entirely devoid of matter, so one might naturally assume that objects in a vacuum do not encounter friction. However, quantum physics implies that the vacuum is not actually completely empty, but is rather … Continue reading

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Journal Club: New ability to measure the recoil from single photons could help address fundamental physics mysteries

Scientists have for the first time directly measured the recoil that single photons exert on levitating nanoparticles in a vacuum. The work that could help lead to more sensitive measurements of ultra-weak forces, according to research detailed online June 13 … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Synchronizing clocks to record precision

Precisely synchronized networks of clocks are key not only to modern everyday services such as GPS networks, but also to scientific endeavors such as giant telescope networks and tests of gravitation. Scientists now have devised a way to use laser … Continue reading

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First Look: Finding dark matter with gamma rays

Dark matter remains one of the greatest mysteries in the universe, an invisible substance thought to make up five-sixths of all matter in the universe. Research teams around the world are striving to discover what exactly dark matter is by … Continue reading

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Particle avalanches insides glassy materials create weaknesses

The randomly ordered atoms of glasses can at times arrange themselves into crystals, weakening them. Now researchers have discovered this crystallization is apparently due to avalanches of particles within glasses, report findings detailed in the Proceedings of the National Academy … Continue reading

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Animals exchange energy for locomotive advantage

In the streams and rivers of South America, the 2-cm-long glass knifefish lives among a high population of predators, and prefers to stay hidden, biding its time until it must emerge to find food or flee. While hiding, the knifefish … Continue reading

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Predicted new form of carbon is a metal

The creation of carbon that can behave like a metal has been a longstanding dream, but previous attempts to synthesize metallic carbon led to materials that are not stable at room temperature and pressure. Now computer simulations predict that a … Continue reading

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