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Tuesday, October 26, 2021
X-rays reveal censored portions of Marie Antoinette’s letters to Swedish count

X-rays reveal censored portions of Marie Antoinette’s letters to Swedish count

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Enlarge / 1775 portrait of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, by Jean-Baptiste-André Gautier-Dagoty. X-ray analysis of letters between the queen and a Swedish count revealed words that had been blacked out, rendering them illegible—until now.Public domain Most people associate Marie Antoinette with the affair of the diamond necklace, "Let them eat cake!" and the onset…
Physicists may have cracked the case of “Zen” stones balanced on ice pedestals

Physicists may have cracked the case of “Zen” stones balanced on...

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Enlarge / A laboratory reproduction of the Zen stone phenomenon in a lyophilizer. Nicolas Taberlet / Nicolas Plihon Visit the Small Sea of Lake Baikal in Russia during the winter and you'll likely see an unusual phenomenon: a flat rock balanced on a thin pedestal of ice, akin to stacking Zen stones common to Japanese…
Whirling maple seeds inspired these tiny flying sensors

Whirling maple seeds inspired these tiny flying sensors

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Like helicoptering maple seeds, tiny new fliers whirl gracefully as they glide. The miniature aircraft, which can be made as small as a grain of sand, could be dispersed by air over long distances. Scientists envision that these microfliers, when equipped with wee sensors for measuring environmental conditions, could monitor pH, test for heavy metals…
Astronomers solve centuries-old mystery of supernova observed in 1181

Astronomers solve centuries-old mystery of supernova observed in 1181

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Enlarge / Hubble Space Telescope mosaic image of the Crab Nebula, a six-light-year-wide expanding remnant of a star's supernova explosion in 1054 CENASA/ESA/J. Hester & A. Loll (Arizona State University In August 1181, astronomers in China and Japan witnessed a bright "guest star" in the night sky that we now know to have been a…
Fusion startup builds 10-foot-high, 20-tesla superconducting magnet

Fusion startup builds 10-foot-high, 20-tesla superconducting magnet

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Enlarge / The assembled magnet gets lowered into its testing apparatus.Commonwealth Fusion Systems In 2015, a group of physicists at MIT did some calculations to rethink how we're approaching the problem of fusion power. High-temperature, nonmetallic superconductors were finally commercially available and could allow the generation of stronger magnetic fields, enabling a simpler, more compact…
New ‘vortex beams’ of atoms and molecules are the first of their kind

New ‘vortex beams’ of atoms and molecules are the first of...

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Like soft serve ice cream, beams of atoms and molecules now come with a swirl. Scientists already knew how to dish up spiraling beams of light or electrons, known as vortex beams (SN: 1/14/11). Now, the first vortex beams of atoms and molecules are on the menu, researchers report in the Sept. 3 Science. Vortex…
Physicists caught protons ‘surfing’ on shock waves

Physicists caught protons ‘surfing’ on shock waves

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Protons can surf some truly gnarly waves. A new experiment suggests that the subatomic particles can be accelerated by a process akin to surfers catching waves. The protons get a speed boost not from ocean swells, but from shock waves within plasma, a mixture of electrically charged particles. Such shock waves are sonic boom–like disturbances…
Study: Ants create stable tunnels in nests, much like humans play Jenga

Study: Ants create stable tunnels in nests, much like humans play...

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Enlarge / Two ants tunneling in green gel. A new Caltech study found that ants search for and remove loose grains of soil when digging their tunnels, much like humans remove loose blocks while playing Jenga. Ants are prodigious diggers, constructing elaborate nests with multiple layers connected by an intricate network of tunnels, sometimes reaching…
50 years ago, physicists thought they found the W boson. They hadn’t

50 years ago, physicists thought they found the W boson. They...

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The W particle may have been found — Science News, August 21, 1971 Physicists distinguish four different kinds of force by which objects in the universe act upon each other: the strong nuclear force, the weak force, electromagnetism and gravity. The developed theory of particle physics outfits each force with a so-called intermediate particle.… Now,…
With a powerful laser blast, scientists near a nuclear fusion milestone

With a powerful laser blast, scientists near a nuclear fusion milestone

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With a powerful laser zap, scientists have blasted toward a milestone for nuclear fusion. A fusion experiment at the world’s biggest laser facility released 1.3 million joules of energy, coming close to a break-even point known as ignition, where fusion begins to release more energy than required to detonate it. Reaching ignition would strengthen hopes…

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