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 (September 2015).
September 1, 2015 1:45 PM

Majority of Europe's electronic waste is improperly handled

New Scientist: According to a new report from the United Nations University and INTERPOL, in 2012 only 35% of Europe's electronic waste was properly disposed of. Of the remainder, 1.3 million tons were stolen, including functional computer components and precious metals worth some €1.7 billion ($1.9 billion). Another 4.7 million tons were improperly disposed of or illegally traded. Improper disposal of electronics poses a threat to the environment and to public health because of the variety of toxic materials—such as lead, cadmium, and mercury—they contain.

September 1, 2015 1:44 PM

Binary stars can perturb planetary orbits

Ars Technica: Some exoplanetary systems consist of planets orbiting stars that have distant binary companions. According to new simulations of such systems, if a planet's orbital precession around its star falls into resonance with the orbital period of the binary, the resulting gravitational forces could lead to drastic changes in the planet's orbit. In particular, the planet's orbit could become highly elliptical or be forced into a different plane from that of the other planets in the system. In extreme cases, the planet could be ejected from the system or forced to collide with another planet or with one of the stars.

September 1, 2015 10:45 AM

Open-source motion-detection software encourages innovation

Nature: To track and study how animals move, a plethora of motion-tracking tools have sprung up that are based on motion-capture imaging technology. They are being used in various ways, such as to determine how ancient fossilized creatures may have moved or to detect aberrant movements that might indicate a neurological disorder, like Parkinson’s disease. One tool, called XROMM (x-ray reconstruction of moving morphology), uses x rays to image bones and joints moving inside live animals. Another, called MouseWalker, uses a high-speed video camera to detect the scattering of light as a mouse’s paws make contact with a transparent surface surrounded by LED lights. Both are among a growing number of software tools that have been made open source and thus freely available. The hope is that researchers will take the tools and go on to modify and redistribute them and further expand their applications.
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Scitation: News Picks - Blog