Friday, September 21, 2018

New Uncertainy Relation Discovered For Temperature at the Quantum Scale

 According to a new study released by the University of Exeter, a new uncertainty relation linking the precision at which temperatures can be measured has been discovered.
  Uncertainty states are most famously known by the thought experiment called Schrödinger's Cat. The idea concerns a cat in a box that, according to quantum mechanics, could be both dead and alive at the same time.
 By developing a new theoretical framework, the team was able to characterize small-scale thermometers and establish an achievable accuracy. Under certain circumstances, it was found that the uncertainty in temperature readings were prone to additional fluctuations, arising because of quantum effects.
 These tiny thermometers could be in a superposition between different temperatures, such as 90.5°C and 89.5°C , similarly to how Schrödinger's cat could be in a superposition between dead and alive.
  Harry Miller, first author of the paper and from Exeter's Physics and Astronomy department explained: "In addition to thermal noise that is present when making a temperature measurement, the possibility of being in a superposition means that quantum fluctuations influence of how we observe temperature at the nanoscale."

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Monday, September 17, 2018

Germany Rolls Out First Hydrogen-Powered Train

The European railways manufacturer Alstom has begun operation of what it calls the world's first hydrogen fuel cell train.
The new trains will transport passengers along 100 kilometres (62 miles) of track and will be capable of travelling up to 1000 kilometres (621 miles) on a single tank of hydrogen. These trains will run between the locations of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervorde and Buxtehude.
"The world's first hydrogen fuel cell train is entering passenger service and is ready for serial production," Henri Poupart-Lafarge, Alstom's chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement Sunday.
"The Coradia iLint heralds a new era in emission-free rail transport," Poupart-Lafarge added. "It is an innovation that results from French-German teamwork and exemplifies successful cross-border cooperation."
Although hydrogen fuel cells are more expensive than traditional batteries, they do carry additional advantages. Instead of recharging them like an electric battery, fuel cells only need to be refilled like a gas or diesel engine. Furthermore, as the trains will be running on a timed schedule, refuelling infrastructure will be easy to be accommodated.

Image Credit: Alstom | R Frampe

Friday, September 14, 2018

Photo of the Week

This week for Photo of the Week, we would like to feature an amazing shot of the Milky Way. Taken over White Sands National Monument, this lovely shot transports the viewer to the sandy desert of New Mexico. In a world where the silence is deafening, yet peaceful, the cold sands underneath are cast in a pale light underneath the towering majesty of the Milky Way galaxy above.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Space-Elevator Experiment to Launch Next Week for International Space Station

  A group of researchers at Shizuoka University and other institutions will be launching an experiment to the International Space Station to develop a "space elevator" that might one day connect Earth and a space station by cable.
  Developed by Shizuoka's Faculty of Engineering, the experiment contains two ultra-small satellites called cubesats that measure about 10 centimetres each side. After being deployed from the International Space Station (ISS), a 10-metre-long steel cable and motor will be used to move an elevator car between the two satellites. A camera will be attached to record the movements of the container in space.
  If this experiment is a success, this will be another step in the development of a fully operational space elevators. Should this technology be realized, this could severely reduce costs to transport supplies to the ISS. Travelling at speeds up to 200 kilometres per hour, a space elevator could transport materials like solar panels and research materials to the ISS eight days after departure from Earth.
   "In theory, a space elevator is highly plausible. Space travel may become something popular in the future," said Yoji Ishikawa who leads the research team.

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Monday, September 10, 2018

Farming Enters a Digital Era with PlantCopters

Photo: KAUST

Transforming the mass monitoring of crops, relatively inexpensive smart tag solutions are set to deploy in three countries beginning in 2019. These sensors report plant conditions including data on plant growth, temperature, humidity, and more.

Muhammad Mustafa Hussain, a professor of electrical engineering at KAUST, and his team are behind the research and development of this sensor solution. Titled “PlantCopter”, this sensor brings the Internet of Things to farming through the use of biodegradable materials and a Bluetooth connection.

“My overarching objective is to collect big data and infuse it with AI so that drones can make real-time decisions like spreading fertilizer and pesticides as needed,” Hussain explains. “My vision is if productivity goes up by even one percent, I think that would feed more people.”

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Chandra Observatory Discover Ring of X-ray Sources in Distant Galaxy

  According to a new paper published in the Astrophysical Journal, a ring of bright x-ray sources - black holes or neutron stars - has been discovered within a galaxy approximately 300 million light years from Earth.
  Using data collected by the Chandra Observatory, the physicists determined that the ring was likely forged when one galaxy collided through the middle of another, creating ripples within the structure.
Further observations determined that the X-ray sources detected were classified as ultraluminous X-ray sources (ULXs). These objects produce hundreds to thousands of times more X-rays than a typical binary system in which a companion star orbits around a neutron star or black hole.
   “The first galaxy generated ripples in the gas of the second galaxy, AM 0644-741, located in the lower right," said Dr. Anna Wolter of the Osservatorio Astronomico di Brera and co-authors. "These ripples then produced an expanding ring of gas in AM 0644-741 that triggered the birth of new stars. The first galaxy is possibly the one located in the lower left of the image.”
   “Some of these black holes or neutron stars have close companion stars, and siphon gas from their stellar partner,” the astronomers said. “This gas falls towards the black hole or neutron star, forming a spinning disk like water circling a drain, and becomes heated by friction. This superheated gas produces large amounts of X-rays that NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory can detect.”

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Thursday, September 6, 2018

Hexagon Feature Discovered Forming Over Saturn's North Pole

  According to a new long-term study of Saturn using data collected by the Cassini spacecraft, a warming, high-altitude vortex with a hexagonal shape has been caught developing in the north pole of Saturn as its northern hemisphere approaches summer. This mirrors the strange hexagon vortex observed at the planet's southern pole during its southern summer.
  At first undetected by Cassini due to the extreme cold temperatures of Saturn's northern hemisphere during winter, the vortex was later observed as it warmed increasingly quickly. This suggests that the lower-altitude hexagon may influence what happens up above, and that it could span hundreds of kilometres in height.
   "One way that wave 'information' can leak upwards is via a process called evanescence, where the strength of a wave decays with height but is just about strong enough to still persist up into the stratosphere," explained Leigh Fletcher from the University of Leicester. "We simply need to know more. It's quite frustrating that we only discovered this stratospheric hexagon right at the end of Cassini's lifespan."  "While we did expect to see a vortex of some kind at Saturn's north pole as it grew warmer, its shape is really surprising. Either a hexagon has spawned spontaneously and identically at two different altitudes, one lower in the clouds and one high in the stratosphere, or the hexagon is in fact a towering structure spanning a vertical range of several hundred kilometres."

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