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Bulb

The 'plasmoelectric effect': New mechanism discovered to convert light into electricity

plasmoelectric effect
© Credits: Amolf/Tremani
Artist's impression of the plasmoelectric effect. An ultrasensitive needle measures the voltage that arises if a laser illuminates a metal nanocircuit consisting of a square matrix of miniscule holes in a thin gold film.
Researchers from FOM Institute AMOLF and the California Institute of Technology have discovered a new method for the generation of electrical potentials using light. With the help of minutely sculpted metal nanocircuits they could effectively capture light and convert it into an electrical potential of 100 millivolt. The research results are published on 30 October in the journal Science.

The AMOLF-Caltech team, which has worked together for many years, calls the newly discovered effect the 'plasmoelectric effect'. Albert Polman, leader of the AMOLF part of the team: "This is an entirely new way of converting light into electricity. We have now demonstrated that an electrical voltage can be generated; the next step is to see whether we can also collect electrical current and generate electrical power."

Small particles of precious metals such as copper, silver and gold are known to emit colourful spectrums if they are illuminated. A well-known example is stained-glass windows in old churches in which the colours are formed by small metal nanoparticles that have been enclosed in the glass. The light that shines on these particles is converted into plasmons: oscillations of the free electrons in the metal. That results in strong absorption and diffraction of certain colours of light.
Evil Rays

Ultracold disappearing act: 'Matter waves' move through one another but never share space

© Credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University
Physicists (from left) De Luo, Jason Nguyen and Randy Hulet observed a strange disappearing act during collisions between forms of Bose Einstein condensates called solitons. In some cases, the colliding clumps of matter appear to keep their distance even as they pass through each other.
A disappearing act was the last thing Rice University physicist Randy Hulet expected to see in his ultracold atomic experiments, but that is what he and his students produced by colliding pairs of Bose Einstein condensates (BECs) that were prepared in special states called solitons.

Hulet's team documented the strange phenomenon in a new study published online this week in the journal Nature Physics.

BECs are clumps of a few hundred thousand lithium atoms that are cooled to within one-millionth of a degree above absolute zero, a temperature so cold that the atoms march in lockstep and act as a single "matter wave." Solitons are waves that do not diminish, flatten out or change shape as they move through space. To form solitons, Hulet's team coaxed the BECs into a configuration where the attractive forces between lithium atoms perfectly balance the quantum pressure that tends to spread them out..

The researchers expected to observe the property that a pair of colliding solitons would pass though one another without slowing down or changing shape. However, they found that in certain collisions, the solitons approached one another, maintained a minimum gap between themselves, and then appeared to bounce away from the collision.

"You never see them together," said Hulet, Rice's Fayez Sarofim Professor of Physics and Astronomy. "There is always a hole, a gap that they must jump over. They pass through one another, but they never occupy the same space while they're doing that.

"It happens because of 'wave packet' interference," he said. "Think of them as waves that can have a positive or negative amplitude. One of the solitons is positive and the other is negative, so they cancel one another. The probability of them being in the spot where they meet is zero. They pass through that spot, but you never see them there."
Satellite

China unveils "laser to shoot down low-flying drones"

© Phys.org
A remote controlled drone
China has developed a highly accurate laser weapon system that can shoot down light drones at low altitude, state media reported.

The machine has a two-kilometre range and can bring down "various small aircraft" within five seconds of locating its target, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing a statement by the China Academy of Engineering Physics (CAEP), one of the developers.

Xinhua showed pictures of large metal boxes in camouflage paint and the wreckage of a small drone, some of it burning.

It is expected to "play a key role in ensuring security during major events in urban areas" and address concerns on unlicensed mapping activities, according to Xinhua.

It is effective up to a maximum altitude of 500 metres and against aircraft flying at up to 50 metres per second (112 mph), Xinhua said.
Wolf

Scientists explain why your dog kicks when you scratch his belly

dog belly rub
It's called the sweet spot. That perfect place on your dog's belly or sides that, when scratched, causes your pet's foot to go into crazy automatic kicking mode. Every dog owner knows where to find this magical region on his or her canine, as it usually offers up unmitigated joy.

As delightful as this puppy kicking is to watch, this reaction is actually a means of self-protection for your pet. It's called the scratch reflex, and it's an involuntary response that exists to keep your dog safe from dangerous bugs or irritants.
Pocket Knife

US scientists spy on human minds with brain decoder

brain scanning
© Reuters / Michaela Rehle
Keeping your thoughts strictly to yourself may soon prove infeasible, with scientists working on a break-through, mind-reading device. The idea is to help people who are physically unable to interact with the outside world.

In fact, it's all about hearing "inner voices" and correctly interpreting them with the help of unique individual decoders, a researcher from the University of California, Berkley, explained.

"If you're reading text in a newspaper or a book, you hear a voice in your own head. We're trying to decode the brain activity related to that voice to create a medical prosthesis that can allow someone who is paralyzed or locked in to speak," Brian Pasley told New Scientist magazine.

The team of researchers recorded brain activity in seven people undergoing epilepsy surgery, while they looked at a screen displaying texts from either one of the best-known speeches in US history: the Gettysburg Address by President Abraham Lincoln, or John F. Kennedy's inaugural address.

Comment: It is any body's guess how this type of technology will be used in the world controlled by Psychopaths who spy on every thing they seem fit for their plunder.

Moon

More BRICS Space success: China completes first mission to moon and back

moon
© Credit: NASA
This is a composite image of the lunar nearside taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in June 2009, note the presence of dark areas of maria on this side of the moon.
China completed its first return mission to the moon early Saturday with the successful re-entry and landing of an unmanned probe, state media reported, in the latest step forward for Beijing's ambitious space programme.

The probe landed safely in northern China's Inner Mongolia region, state news agency Xinhua said, citing the Beijing Aerospace Control Center.

Xinhua said the probe took "some incredible pictures" of the Earth and the moon.

Prior to re-entering the Earth's atmosphere, the unnamed probe was travelling at 11.2 kilometres per second (25,000 miles per hour), a speed that can generate temperatures of more than 1,500 degrees Celsius (2,700 degrees Fahrenheit), the news agency reported.

To slow it down, scientists let the craft "bounce" off Earth's atmosphere before re-entering again and landing.

The probe's mission was to travel to the moon, fly around it and head back to Earth, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND) said in a statement at its launch eight days ago.

Comment: The success of Beijing's ambitious space programme, together with India, their BRICS ally (Indias maiden Mars mission successful) is in direct contrast to their Western counterparts; who have suffered various anomalies recently, in a shockingly bad week for their space dominance:

Virgin Galactic Space Ship Two destroyed after in flight anomaly

Antares rocket explosion: A "vehicle anomaly", a deliberate destruction, or something else?

NASA rocket bound for International Space Station explodes just seconds after takeoff

Info

Genes could influence who survives Ebola

Ebola virus
© iStockphoto/nopparit
The Ebola virus rendered into 3D.
The Ebola virus is not always deadly and genetics may play a role in the severity of the illness, according to a new study on mice.

Researchers at the University of Washington infected mice with a mouse form of the same species of the Ebola virus that is sweeping West Africa.

Seventy per cent of the mice got sick, and more than half of this group died, some due to liver inflammation and others due to internal hemorrhage.

About 19 per cent of the mice lost weight initially but then regained it in two weeks and made a full recovery.

The remaining 11 per cent showed a partial response to the virus and less than half in this group died.

The findings are reported in the journal Science this week.

Scientists say the variability in outcomes resembled what has been seen in the human epidemic sweeping West Africa this year, killing more than 4,900 people and infecting more than 13,000.

They were also able to find associations in disease outcomes and mortality rates according to specific genetic lines of mice.
Rocket

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo destroyed after 'in-flight anomaly'

virgin galactic spaceshiptwo

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo fired its engine for the first time over the Mojave Desert in California
Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo has been destroyed after "an in-flight anomaly" during a rocket powered test flight over the Mojave Desert, Calif. Friday morning.

"#SpaceShipTwo has experienced an in-flight anomaly. Additional info and statement forthcoming," the official Virgin Galactic feed tweeted at 10:13 a.m. PDT (1:13 p.m. EDT). This announcement came 6 minutes after the space tourism company announced the sub-orbital spacecraft's engines had ignited.

The anomaly appears to have occurred after the spacecraft, which is designed to carry 6 passengers and two pilots on a trip to the edge of space, was released from its mothership, WhiteKnightTwo, and under powered flight.

Comment: This has been a bad week for space flight:

Antares rocket explosion: A "vehicle anomaly", a deliberate destruction, or something else?

NASA rocket bound for International Space Station explodes just seconds after takeoff

Rocket

Antares rocket explosion: A "vehicle anomaly", a deliberate destruction, or something else?

An unmanned rocket exploded shortly after takeoff Tuesday evening (28th of October) on Virginia's eastern shore. It was carrying a capsule loaded with experiments and much needed equipment. There were no injuries, but because of "classified crypto equipment" onboard, NASA made sure to secure the area.


Although there is much to say about the symbology of the event (starting with it being US's another flop and Russia saving the day, or the fact that Antares was being partly developed in Ukraine), there are plenty of other no less curious details.
Sun

Cassini observes a sunny day on Titan's seas

titan lakes
© NASA/JPL-CALTECH/UNIV. ARIZONA/UNIV. IDAHO
Near-infrared view from Cassini of Titan's north polar seas.
During a recent flyby of Saturn's moon Titan, NASA's Cassini mission captured some breathtaking infrared views of the small world, photographing sunlight glinting off its hydrocarbon seas.

Cassini has spotted sun glint before on Titan's surface, but this is the first set of observations (stitched together as a mosaic) where the boundaries of the seas and the sunlight glint are visible in the same view.

As Titan's surface is so cold, water cannot exist in a liquid state. Instead, the world cycles liquid methane (a substance that has a lower freezing point than water) from Titan's "great lakes", into the atmosphere as vapor, which condenses as clouds, raining methane back down onto the hydrocarbon surface. Much like Earth's water cycle, Titan's methane cycle creates rivers, deltas, valleys and large masses of liquid methane as observed here.

The sea glinting in sunlight is Kraken Mare, Titan's largest body of liquid. Surrounding Kraken Mare is a 'bathtub ring' - an old coastline that suggests the sea was at a higher level than it is now.

This observation was captured by Cassini's Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) on Aug. 21.


Comment: The colorized mosaic from the visual and infrared mapping spectrometer, which maps infrared colors onto the visible-color spectrum, reveals differences in the composition of material around the lakes. The data suggest parts of Titan's lakes and seas may have evaporated and left behind the Titan equivalent of Earth's salt flats. The evaporated material is thought to be organic chemicals originally from Titan's haze particles that once dissolved in liquid methane. They appear orange in this image against the greenish backdrop of Titan's typical bedrock of water ice.

The bright area suggests that the surface here is unique from the rest of Titan, which might explain why almost all of the lakes are found in this region. Titan's lakes have very distinctive shapes -- rounded cookie-cutter silhouettes and steep sides -- and a variety of formation mechanisms have been proposed. The explanations range from the collapse of land after a volcanic eruption to karst terrain, where liquids dissolve soluble bedrock. Karst terrains on Earth can create spectacular topography such as the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. -JPL

Launched in 1997, Cassini has been exploring the Saturn system since 2004. A full Saturn year is 30 years, and Cassini has been able to observe nearly a third of a Saturn year. In that time, Saturn and its moons have seen the seasons change from northern winter to northern summer.

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