Physics in Action by Topic

Quantum Mechanics

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Atomic Friction

New research reveals the frictional nuances on the atomic scale


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Element 115 and the Island of Stability

Ununpentium, the 115th element, has been confirmed



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Quantum Dots and Cells

Quantum dots can be used to stimulate cells, to probe them, and to trigger neuron firing with light!


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Entangled Diamonds

Quantum entanglement has been called “spooky action at a distance” by Einstein and has often been called spooky or weird since then. Recently two diamonds, big enough to see with your eye, were observed to have entangled quantum mechanical states.


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Migration via quantum mechanics

A perplexing property of quantum mechanics could be allowing birds to see and navigate the planet’s magnetic fields


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The Advanced Light Source: Where Physics Lets Science Happen

The Berkeley Lab's Advanced Light Source produces x-rays a billion times brighter than the sun by flinging electrons around at nearly the speed of light. Find out how and the ways that scientists use these brilliant flashes of invisible light to probe the world of the unseen.


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Looking to the Stars: Creating Fusion in the Lab

The sun produces HUGE amounts of energy. In just five seconds, the sun gives off an amount of energy equal to the electricity used by the entire world’s population in one year! How does the sun make all of this energy? It makes it through fusion. This Physics in Action explores fusion and how scientists at MIT are getting closer to producing this great source of energy.


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Feynman Diagrams: The science of doodling

Every popular explanation of particle physics is liberally illustrated with cartoon-like pictures of straight and wiggly lines representing electrons, photons, and quarks, interacting with one another. These so-called Feynman diagrams were introduced by Richard Feynman in the journal Physical Review in 1949, and they quickly became an essential tool for particle physicists.


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Quark-Gluon Plasma

A millionth of a second after the Big Bang, the universe was an incredibly dense plasma, so hot that no nuclei nor even nuclear particles could exist.


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Power to the Pentaquark

What’s inside an atom? What’s inside a proton? These are questions asked by physicists, who seek to understand matter on the most fundamental level.


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Neutrino Astrophysics

Very large stars can end their lives in a cataclysmic explosion called a supernova. The photographs show a supernova in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way located only about 160,000 light years away.


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Neutrino Nomads

The neutrino is a ghostly particle that leaves hardly a trace of its passing. Most neutrinos go right through Earth without any deviation or interaction, and trillions harmlessly pierce your body each second.


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Fusion Machines

In 1951, the astrophysicist Lyman Spitzer devised a way to contain a hot plasma—an ionized gas—with the hope of producing a sustained fusion reaction that could lead to electric power generation.


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Matters of State

We know about solids, liquids, gases, and plasmas —these are the well-known states of matter. But now there’s another, called the Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC), and it’s been predicted for a long time.


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Plasma Power

Everyday objects can be classified into solids, liquids, and gases. However, the matter in a lightning bolt, a flame, and the Aurora Borealis are something quite different.


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Energetic Degenerates

If systems "seek" the lowest possible energy, why don't atomic electrons all cascade down into the ground state?


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The Little Constant that Couldn't?

Physicists measure the values of basic quantities like the speed of light and the charge of the electron. Cosmologists use the results in studies of the origin of the universe, some 12 billion years ago, and they assume the numbers have not changed over this time.


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The Buzz about Antimatter

Matter and Antimatter: the cloud chamber track of an electron-positron pair


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Antihydrogen Antics

As StarTrek fans know well, the fuel for warp drive is antimatter.


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Water Tubes

Physicists have created a new form of water, one that stays liquid at hundreds of degrees C below zero.


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Natural Reactors

The first controlled nuclear reactor, built during World War II, was a great achievement, but it was not the first reactor to operate on planet Earth.


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Nuclei Knockdown

At RHIC--the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, located at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York--gold nuclei traveling at nearly the speed of light smash into each other, destroying themselves and producing a spray of other particles.


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Laser Cooling and Trapping

Absolute zero, as cold as it gets, resides at the very bottom of the temperature scale.


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An Especially Elegant Universe

Joe McMaster, producer, director, and writer of Nova's The Elegant Universe, is not a physicist. Fortunately, he had the patient help of the show's star and narrator, physicist Brian Greene, as he put together the PBS production delving into String Theory.


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Giant Magnetoresistance

Nobel-prize-winning research led to the MP3 player and HDTV-on-demand.


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AMANDA, Light of my Ice...

An underwater telescope called AMANDA, frozen deep in Antarctic ice, peers down at ghostly neutrinos that pass through Earth from above the Northern Hemisphere.