Diamond Nanoneedles…

Credit: Z. Shi et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 117, 24634 (2020)

Topics: Materials Science, Modern Physics, Nanotechnology, Semiconductor Technology

If you ever manage to deform a diamond, you’re likely to break it. That’s because the hardest natural material on Earth is also inelastic and brittle. Two years ago, Ming Dao (MIT), Subra Suresh (Nanyang Technological University in Singapore), and their collaborators demonstrated that when bulk diamonds are etched into fine, 300-nm-wide needles, they become nearly defect-free. The transformation allows diamonds to elastically bend under the pressure of an indenter tip, as shown in the figure, and withstand extremely large tensile stresses without breaking.

The achievement prompted the researchers to investigate whether the simple process of bending could controllably and reversibly alter the electronic structure of nanocrystal diamond. Teaming up with Ju Li and graduate student Zhe Shi (both at MIT), Dao and Suresh have now followed their earlier study with numerical simulations of the reversible deformation. The team used advanced deep-learning algorithms that reveal the bandgap distributions in nanosized diamond across a range of loading conditions and crystal geometries. The new work confirms that the elastic strain can alter the material’s carbon-bonding configuration enough to close its bandgap from a normally 5.6 eV width as an electrical insulator to 0 eV as a conducting metal. That metallization occurred on the compression side of a bent diamond nanoneedle.

Diamond nanoneedles turn metallic, R. Mark Wilson, Physics Today

Right-Handed Photons…

Topics: Modern Physics, Particle Physics, Quantum Mechanics, Quarks

Note: A primer on quarks at Hyperphysics

On 17 January 1957, a few months after Chien-Shiung Wu’s discovery of parity violation, Wolfgang Pauli wrote to Victor Weisskopf: “Ich glaube aber nicht, daß der Herrgott ein schwacher Linkshänder ist” (I cannot believe that God is a weak left-hander). But maximal parity violation is now well established within the Standard Model (SM). The weak interaction only couples to left-handed particles, as dramatically seen in the continuing absence of experimental evidence for right-handed neutrinos. In the same way, the polarisation of photons originating from transitions that involve the weak interaction is expected to be completely left-handed.

The LHCb collaboration recently tested the handedness of photons emitted in rare flavour-changing transitions from a b-quark to an s-quark. These are mediated by the bosons of the weak interaction according to the SM – but what if new virtual particles contribute too? Their presence could be clearly signalled by a right-handed contribution to the photon polarization.

In pursuit of right-handed photons, A report from the LHCb experiment, CERN Courier

Argonne, and STEM…

Students and instructors wave bye to each other after the close of a virtual session of All About Energy. (Image by Argonne National Laboratory.)

Topics: Education, Energy, Research, STEM

Argonne Educational Programs and Outreach transitioned to virtual summer programming, ensuring that Argonne continues to build the next generation of STEM leaders.

At the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, scientists and educators have found new ways to balance their work with safety needs as the laboratory’s Educational Programs and Outreach Department successfully transitioned all of its summer programming to a virtual learning environment.

By connecting scientific and research divisions across the laboratory, Argonne was able to create multiple virtual programs, helping young people stay connected and engage with the laboratory’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education opportunities.

“Providing STEM opportunities and a constant presence with our next generation of STEM professions during a time that is unsettling and turbulent for everyone, but especially our school age and university student populations, was our top priority.” — Meridith Bruozas, Educational Programs and Outreach manager

“Argonne continues to adapt and lead impactful science during the ongoing pandemic, a strategy that includes strengthening the STEM pipeline with unique education programs for future scientists and engineers,” said Argonne Director Paul Kearns. ​“For years, hundreds of students have pursued summer learning opportunities at Argonne that are not available anywhere else. I’m pleased that in 2020 our lab community came together to maintain these high-quality STEM experiences through a successful virtual program for next-generation researchers.”

Argonne provides STEM opportunities for more than 800 students during pandemic, Nathan Schmidt, Argonne National Laboratory

The Next Authoritarian…

Macska Moksha Press: Anti-war & anti-authoritarian quotations, Kollibri terre Sonnenblume

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Fascism, Human Rights, Politics

“All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible.” Frank Herbert

No less than “created realities” Karl Rove and “the room where it happened,” and knock-off Yosemite Sam, John Bolton, have said it’s time to throw in the towel. Twitter has flagged his gaslighting, and is going to have to decide if a lame duck lunatic is beneficial to its bottom-line. Unlike Bolton, I don’t think the GOP (gang of Putin) is “coddling” him.

I think they completely understand their audience.

Mike Pompeo is a West Point Graduate, and Harvard-trained lawyer. He knows the State Department is supposed to coordinate the transition, and magical thinking announced to his boss’s rabid followers only delays the inevitable. He does plan to run for president one day, and he’s trying to “ride the dragon” the right-wing has created over 40 years. 70 million Americans are the byproducts of 40 years of hate radio, Alex Jones, dark Internet sites, and Fox propaganda. They all decided to despite evidence, in the words of Tom Nichols, vote for the sociopath. That for all intents and purposes is their “base.”

Reagan is a paper saint: he started the birth of this dragon in Philadelphia, Mississippi, blocks from where Cheney, Goodman and Schwerner were found. The “wink-and-nod” to white supremacy had begun. It metastasized in four decades to a racist bullhorn after the nation’s first, and, only black president.

Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham used the pushed-on-the-bench Amy Coney Barrett to secure their positions in the Senate, where they do absolutely NOTHING, except hold on to power for mostly their rich constituents, and the poor white rubes that think they hate the demographics shift as racially as they do. They are cynically playing this game because of the close races, that should not be close in Georgia for control of the Senate. The miracles of Jon Ossoff, and Reverend Warnock both poised to oust incumbent Republican senators will cement Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight as a blueprint that should be replicated nationally, that is if the democrats want to have power going-forward. She will win the governorship in 2022. The House however, lost 10 seats, and Georgia is in a runoff, that shouldn’t have been this close in a pandemic where the leader of their party is woefully inept, and WAY out over his skis. But competence isn’t necessary to authoritarians.

Authoritarianism, principle of blind submission to authority, as opposed to individual freedom of thought and action. In government, authoritarianism denotes any political system that concentrates power in the hands of a leader or a small elite that is not constitutionally responsible to the body of the people. Authoritarian leaders often exercise power arbitrarily and without regard to existing bodies of law, and they usually cannot be replaced by citizens choosing freely among various competitors in elections. The freedom to create opposition political parties or other alternative political groupings with which to compete for power with the ruling group is either limited or nonexistent in authoritarian regimes.

Source: Britannica.com/authoritarianism

What Republicans should worry about is a more serious run of failure. Republican presidents — Donald Trump and George W. Bush — have now spent almost all of their last nine consecutive years below 50% approval. Add George H.W. Bush’s final year, and that makes 10 of the last 13 Republican presidential years, with the only significant exception coming in the period after the Sept. 11 attacks (we can’t know for sure, but it seems likely that George W. Bush was heading underwater by then).

In other words: Whether or not Republicans have a popularity problem, they certainly seem to have a governing problem, one that at this point could be symbolized by Trump’s utter inability to deal with the pandemic, or by the party’s years-long attempt to dismantle the Affordable Care Act without having any alternative to offer. It is, of course, perhaps just the luck of events that dealt Republican presidents five of the last five recessions. And the Iraq War. And the coronavirus. But my suggestion to the party, if it has lost the presidency, is to spend some time trying to figure out why its presidents seem to have such a tough time in office.

Why Can’t Republicans Win the Popular Vote? Jonathan Bernstein, Bloomberg News

When you cannot win a popular vote, you probably won’t want people voting. Which is why I don’t think we can afford to relax, even after this Herculean effort.

There’s the runoff elections in Georgia’s Senate race, that will decide if Mitch McConnell maintains his majority leadership, or Chuck Schumer assumes it, finally. It will decide if Joe Biden and Kamala Harris can get their agenda done, or this is a unique one-off due to the pandemic. It will decide how LONG we’re suffering from the pandemic long after 45 is fighting subpoenas for his taxes, business practices, and trying to stay out of prison. I doubt his running for president in 2024. There are too many ambitious republicans that want to ride the dragon Kraken he’s summoned. They don’t necessarily NEED him for that, and they are hopelessly dependent (and, afraid) of their base. There’s an off-year election in 2021, where local seats can be decided by the Koch brothers or local citizens. There will be a midterm in 2022, where Kevin McCarthy is already eyeing the Speakership for himself. We don’t get a break, because authoritarianism and fascism will never take a break.

The next authoritarian will likely, not be a buffoon.

The Power of ASM…

Topics: Alternate Energy, Applied Physics, Atomic-Scale Microscopy, Nanotechnology

When Ondrej Krivanek first considered building a device to boost the resolution of electron microscopes, he asked about funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. “The response was not positive,” he says, laughing. He heard through the grapevine that the administrator who held the purse strings declared that the project would be funded “over his dead body.”     

“People just felt it was too complicated, and that nobody would ever make it work,” says Krivanek. But he tried anyway.  After all, he says, “If everyone expects you to fail, you can only exceed expectations.”

The correctors that Krivanek, Niklas Dellby, and other colleagues subsequently designed for the scanning transmission electron microscope did exceed expectations. They focus the microscope’s electron beam, which scans back and forth across the sample like a spotlight, and make it possible to distinguish individual atoms and to conduct chemical analysis within a sample. For his pioneering efforts, Krivanek shared The Kavli Prize in nanoscience with the German scientists Harald Rose, Maximilian Haider, and Knut Urban, who independently developed correctors for conventional transmission electron microscopes, in which a broad stationary beam illuminates the entire sample at once.

Electron microscopes, invented in 1931, long promised unprecedented clarity, and in theory could resolve objects a hundredth the size of an atom. But in practice they rarely get close because the electromagnetic lenses they use to focus electrons deflected them in ways that distorted and blurred the resulting images.

The aberration correctors designed by both Krivanek’s team and the German scientists deploy a series of electromagnetic fields, applied in multiple planes and different directions, to redirect and focus wayward electrons. “Modern correctors contain more than 100 optical elements and have software that automatically quantifies and fixes 25 different types of aberrations,” says Krivanek, who co-founded a company called Nion to develop and commercialize the technology.

That level of fine-tuning allows microscopists to fix their sights on some important pursuits, such as producing smaller and more energy-efficient computers, analyzing biological samples without incinerating them, and being able to detect hydrogen, the lightest element and a potential clean-burning fuel.

The Vast Potential of Atomic-Scale Microscopy, Ondrej Krivanek, Scientific American

Crew-1

Image Source: NASA

Topics: Astronautics, International Space Station, NASA, Space Exploration, Spaceflight

Happy Veteran’s Day.

Expedition 1 and Crew-1. These historic International Space Station missions lifting off 20 years apart share the same goals: advancing humanity by using the space station to learn how to explore farther than ever before, while also conducting research and technology demonstrations benefiting life back on Earth.

Crew-1, made up of NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, and Mike Hopkins, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, continues the legacy of two decades of living and working in low-Earth orbit by becoming space scientists for the next six months.

Not only will the Crew-1 astronauts and fellow Expedition 64 NASA astronaut Kate Rubins conduct hundreds of microgravity studies during their mission, they also deliver new science hardware and experiments carried to space with them inside Crew Dragon.

Check out some of the research flying to the space station alongside Crew-1, and scientific investigations the astronauts will work on during their stay aboard the orbiting laboratory.

  • Food Physiology: A better diet for better health
  • Genes in Space-7: A look at astronauts’ brains
  • Plant Habitat-02: Growing radishes in space
  • BioAsteroid: Microscopic microgravity miners
  • Tissue Chips: Using space to study organs
  • Cardinal Heart: An experiment with heart
  • SERFE: Testing a cool space suit

Crew-1 Heads to Space Station to Conduct Microgravity Science, Erin Winick, International Space Station Program Research Office, Johnson Space Center

COVID, and Math…

Image Source: Link below

Topics: Biology, Chemistry, COVID-19, Mathematics, Physics

The year 2020 has been defined by the COVID-19 pandemic: The novel coronavirus responsible for it has infected millions of people and caused more than a million deaths. Like HIV, Zika, Ebola, and many influenza strains, the coronavirus made the evolutionary jump from animals to humans before wreaking widespread havoc. The battle to control it continues.When a disease outbreak is identified—usually through an anomalous spike in cases with similar symptoms—scientists rush to understand the new illness. What type of microbe causes the infection? Where did it come from? How does the infection spread? What are its symptoms? What drugs could treat it? In the current epidemic, science has proceeded at a frenetic pace. Virus genomes are quickly sequenced and analyzed, case and death numbers are visualized daily, and hundreds of preprints are shared every day.

Some scientists rush for their microscopes and lab coats to study a new infection; others leap for their calculators and code. A handful of metrics can characterize a new outbreak, guide public health responses, and inform complex models that can forecast the epidemic’s trajectory. Infectious disease epidemiologists, mathematical biologists, biostatisticians, and others with similar expertise try to answer several questions: How quickly is the infection spreading? What fraction of transmission must be blocked to control the spread? How long is someone infectious? How likely are infected people to be hospitalized or die?

Physics is often considered the most mathematical science, but theory and rigorous mathematical analysis also underlie ecology, evolutionary biology, and epidemiology.1 Ideas and people constantly flow between physics and those fields. In fact, the idea of using mathematics to understand infectious disease spread is older than germ theory itself. Daniel Bernoulli of fluid-mechanics fame devised a model to predict the benefit of smallpox inoculations2 in 1760, and Nobel Prize–winning physician Ronald Ross created mathematical models to encourage the use of mosquito control to reduce malaria transmission.3 Some of today’s most prolific infectious disease modelers originally trained as physicists, including Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London, an adviser to the UK government on its COVID-19 response, and Vittoria Colizza of Sorbonne University in Paris, a leader in network modeling of disease spread.

This article introduces the essential mathematical quantities that characterize an outbreak, summarizes how scientists calculate those numbers, and clarifies the nuances in interpreting them. For COVID-19, estimates of those quantities are being shared, debated, and updated daily. Physicists are used to distilling real-world complexity into meaningful, parsimonious models, and they can serve as allies in communicating those ideas to the public.

The math behind epidemics, Alison Hill, Physics Today

Alison Hill is an assistant professor in the Institute for Computational Medicine and the infectious disease dynamics group at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. She is also a visiting scholar at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Quantum Modem…

Topics: Modern Physics, Nanotechnology, Quantum Computer, Quantum Mechanics

(Nanowerk News) The first quantum revolution brought about semiconductor electronics, the laser and finally the internet. The coming, second quantum revolution promises spy-proof communication, extremely precise quantum sensors and quantum computers for previously unsolvable computing tasks. But this revolution is still in its infancy. A central research object is the interface between local quantum devices and light quanta that enable the remote transmission of highly sensitive quantum information.

The Otto-Hahn group “Quantum Networks” at the Max-Planck-Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching is researching such a “quantum modem”. The team has now achieved a first breakthrough in a relatively simple but highly efficient technology that can be integrated into existing fibre optic networks.

The work is published this week in Physical Review X (“Coherent and Purcell-Enhanced Emission from Erbium Dopants in a Cryogenic High-Q Resonator”).

Physicists develop an efficient modem for the quantum internet, Max-Planck-Institute of Quantum Optics

Stockholm, and Munchausen…

This map shows how the US really has 11 separate ‘nations’ with entirely different cultures, Andy Kiersz and Marguerite Ward, Business Insider

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, COVID-19, Human Rights, Politics

Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response. It occurs when hostages or abuse victims bond with their captors or abusers. This psychological connection develops over the course of the days, weeks, months, or even years of captivity or abuse.

Ref: https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/stockholm-syndrome#definition

Munchausen syndrome by proxy is a mental illness and a form of child abuse. The caretaker of a child, most often a mother, either makes up fake symptoms or causes real symptoms to make it look like the child is sick.

Ref: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001555.htm

Let’s face it: this nation has always been in a Cold Civil War since 1865. We’re eleven countries with distinct ways of digesting the news media. Social media is a means to hack our minds into silos. We’re on separate mental continents. “United States” is an oxymoron and cosmic tragicomedy. We’re more like fractured states with fifty different opinions.

The Stockholm tribe drank the kool-aid with Jim Jones. They are unfazed in their chosen Twilight Zone dimension, and totally nonplussed why we can’t understand their secret, klansman decoder ring Morse code. They have waited forty years for “trickledown” to actually work, and like Jed Clampett, make them Beverly Hills billionaire hillbillies. Cigarettes don’t cause cancer, climate change is a Chinese hoax; vaccines cause autism, gravity can be overcome with the power of positive thinking, huckster name-it-and-claim-it faith healers can blow COVID away, and Hillary is head of a flesh-eating, pedophile cult that an orange faux billionaire is going to save us all from, exposing the “deep state.” Logic doesn’t work with these people. You can’t tell them anything. They’re lemmings in suicide vests, to quote MSNBC’s, Chris Hayes. They are the 69,151,070 that think the last four years of caged children, attempted Muslim bans, selling out our soldiers in Afghanistan, 230,000+ dead and climbing, lying like he breaths and farts, breaking every commandment and law is EXACTLY what they want four more years (or, more) of!

The Munchausen crew watches reruns of OG Star Trek, Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, the new Discovery series, even though we know warp drive is by Einstein impossible, but it’s cool to think we might live beyond our hubris, homophobia, racism, misogyny, sexism, and stupidity maybe repairing the damage to the planet’s environment without killing ourselves. We balance fantasy with the scientifically-accurate Expanse. We typically were the science nerds, poets and artists shoved into lockers, harrassed by the “cool kids,” male or female, sometimes experiencing violence. We find ourselves in a perpetual, near-ending, abusive relationship with the Stockholm click, wondering why our rational outlines of thought and snappy repartee on Twitter hasn’t totally shut down and shamed the inmates at Arkham. 73,050,225 of us are holding our breaths and praying that the electoral college doesn’t screw us over this time, like the principal ignoring the bullies that harassed us.

Sensing he just might not be able to gaslight, steal, sue, whine, or slump across the victory line to “own the libs,” or stay out of prison, Biff Tannen has come up with a “plan B” to continue trolling humanity until his last breath (if he’s not arrested), or at some point when trans fat from fast food, and Darwin do their necessary work.

Communication…

Topics: Biology, COVID-19, Politics, Research

Living through a pandemic has resulted in phrases like RT-PCR, immune response, and aerosolized droplets becoming part of the regular vocabulary for a portion of the population. It has also underscored the important role that we all have to play as scientists in communicating science to the public. As research related to COVID-19 has moved forward at unprecedented rates, misinformation has also multiplied and spread at a terrifying pace. And no matter where you stand politically, all of this happening in an election year for the US further underscores the ways in which science has become an increasingly partisan issue.

Did I mention that the holidays are also approaching? While gatherings of family and friends may look different this year, you may still be anticipating a challenging conversation over a holiday meal with someone who has different viewpoints from yours.

Our situation comes with innumerable challenges. However, it also provides an opportunity for scientists to make a powerful contribution to society and demonstrate the value of science education. Whether or not you are engaging in research directly related to COVID-19, you can help those around you separate facts from myths, interpret the data that are available, and make better-informed decisions.

This realization occurred to me this spring. As positive cases of COVID-19 were just starting to appear in the US, I found myself talking to my physical therapist about the virus and potential treatments. Although I don’t work in drug development, I understand enough of the chemistry to know how nucleoside analogs such as the drug remdesivir function. I excitedly explained how viruses are sloppier than normal human cells when replicating their genomes and how researchers can capitalize on this to make drugs. A few days later, I found myself having a similar conversation with my mom. I wasn’t in a place to predict the efficacy of any drug, but I could at least explain why antivirals like remdesivir had a shot at working, while hydroxychloroquine was less promising. After these two conversations, it struck me that I could also share this knowledge with a broader population on social media.

Science communication is a skill that takes practice to develop, and I am still learning and growing. The stakes couldn’t be higher, but the important part is that any scientist can build this capability to communicate effectively.

We’re all science communicators. Here’s how to do it better, Jen Heemstra, Chemical & Engineering News