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News Picks

Physics Today’s online staff summarize the most important and interesting news about science from the world's top media outlets.

There are 3 posts for the selected month (March 2015).
March 2, 2015 1:16 PM

UK unveils first plans for lagoon power plants

BBC: A £1 billion ($1.54 billion) plan to build a tidal-lagoon-driven power plant has won the approval of UK energy secretary Ed Davey, although the government is still in negotiations with the company behind the proposal. Tidal Lagoon Power wants to build an artificial lagoon off the coast of Swansea and use giant turbines embedded in seawalls to capture energy from the tides. It also proposes to expand to six more sites throughout the UK and says the combined plants could produce 8% of the country's energy at a cost of £30 billion. The initial cost of the electricity generated by the Swansea plant would be £168 per kilowatt hour but would drop to £90 when a second plant opened. That reduced cost would be in the same range as the predicted cost for the power from a planned nuclear plant, but the lagoon plant would also have a longer lifetime and be safer than the nuclear one. The plan, however, is facing some environmental challenges because of the impact the seawalls could have on local shorelines and wildlife.

March 2, 2015 1:15 PM

Plans for next UN climate report take shape

Nature: The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, just months after releasing its fifth climate assessment, is already organizing for the next edition of the report. At a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya at the end of February, the group approved roughly the same framework as was used to guide the fifth report. The mostly minor changes are primarily focused on obtaining wider input and more effective sharing of the results of the study. The panel wants to increase the input from and representation of scientists in the developing world, particularly by using more non-English literature. They also want to include more science communicators in the process to help better reach the non-scientific public. To assist in that, they intend to open some of the panel's own closed-door meetings to researchers. The panel is also in the process of finding a new chairperson following the stepping down from the position by Rajendra Pachauri of the Energy and Resources Institute in New Delhi, India in response to allegations of sexual assault from a colleague.

March 2, 2015 12:12 PM

Cold-atom experiment mimics aspect of high-temperature superconductivity

Science: A team led by Randall Hulet of Rice University in Houston, Texas, has trapped a collection of 100 000 to 250 000 lithium-6 ions in an optical lattice and, using lasers, caused the ions to settle into an antiferromagnetic state—that is, a pattern in which neighboring spins alternate between up and down. The feat is significant because high-temperature superconductivity emerges from a antiferromagnetic state. What's more, Hulet's lattice is a physical embodiment of the Fermi–Hubbard model, a physically simple yet mathematically intractable description of electron–electron interactions. With further experimental advances, Hulet and his team could prove (or disprove) whether the model is sufficient to capture the physics of high-temperature superconductivity.

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Scitation: News Picks - Blog
http://aip.metastore.ingenta.com/content/aip/magazine/physicstoday/news/news-picks