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 4 posts for the selected month (December 2015).
December 1, 2015 4:30 PM

King Tut’s tomb may contain hidden chambers

National Geographic: For the first time ever, radar scans have been conducted inside the tomb of Tutankhamun in Egypt. The scanning was done by Japanese radar specialist Hirokatsu Watanabe, who spent two days collecting data about the material structure of the walls and any open spaces behind them. Among those overseeing the operation was Egyptian antiquities minister Mamdouh Eldamaty, who said that, based on an initial analysis of the data, he was “90 percent positive” that another chamber lies behind the north wall of the tomb. If so, it may contain the final remains of Queen Nefertiti, King Tut's mother-in-law, according to British archaeologist Nicholas Reeves. It is hoped that further analysis will provide enough information to warrant drilling a hole through one of the walls for the insertion of a small camera to search for artifacts.
December 1, 2015 3:24 PM

Attempt to drill through Earth's crust begins this week

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.

December 1, 2015 2:42 PM

New state of carbon is a glow-in-the-dark, ferromagnetic diamond

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.

December 1, 2015 12:25 PM

US supports international climate change pact, says poll

New York Times: As the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change kicked off yesterday, a recent poll by the New York Times and CBS News reveals that a majority of Americans would support enactment of an international agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, 63% would support measures to limit carbon emissions from power plants in the US. Democrats and Republicans remain divided, however, with a narrow majority of Republicans remaining opposed to such an international agreement and one-third saying they don’t believe global warming will have much of an impact on the environment. Although many Republicans have said they won’t support any measures that would harm the US economy, most poll respondents indicated that they felt protecting the environment was most important.
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Scitation: News Picks - Blog