Physics Today’s online staff summarize the most important and interesting news about science from the world's top media outlets.
BBC: A team of researchers and drillers aboard a ship in the Indian Ocean is poised to begin a multiyear expedition with the goal of penetrating the ocean floor and obtaining a sample of Earth's mantle. Chris MacLeod of Cardiff University is leading the project, under the auspices of the International Ocean Discovery Program. The first outing has been funded for two months. The drill site is in an area called the Atlantis Bank, a thinner-than-average region of the crust located on the South West Indian Ridge. In that area, the seabed is 700 m below the ocean's surface, and the crust is only 5–5.5 km thick. The initial drilling is expected to reach a depth of roughly 1.3 km below the sea floor. Subsequent drilling will likely resume in 2018, depending on funding and the availability of a suitable ship.
Forbes: The usual process for creating diamond from carbon requires extremely high temperatures and pressures and is thus highly inefficient. Now Jay Narayan of North Carolina State University in Raleigh and his colleagues have created a new diamond-like form of carbon, and they have done so at room temperature and pressure. Using high-powered, pulsed nanosecond lasers like the ones employed in eye surgery, the researchers raised the carbon's temperature to 4000 K. Extremely rapid cooling leaves a film of the new state of carbon, dubbed Q-carbon. The material is harder than traditional diamond, glows in response to even small amounts of energy, and is unexpectedly ferromagnetic. Narayan says that Q-carbon could be useful for electronic displays, for the manufacture of diamond structures such as nano- or microneedles for drug delivery, or for high-temperature switches in electronics.