Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Lost Head Physics Puzzler Launching October 10 - Inside Mac Games


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Lost Head Physics Puzzler Launching October 10
6:00 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Lost Head, a new physics-based puzzle title from Alawar Entertainment, will arrive at Mac Game Store on October 10, and is currently available for pre-order. The game features 72 levels, five worlds, 10 interactive objects, and 30 collectibles.

Franken-Stitch has lost his head! Twist and turn your way through this physics-based puzzler to reunite him with his glorious dome. We've heard of losing your head, but this is taking it to a whole new level! Life is hard when your noggin won't stay sewn to your shoulders. Help Franken-Stitch reclaim his head by using realistic physics and interactive objects on 72 challenging levels spanning five awesome worlds! Let the good times - and the Franken-heads - roll!

Features:

  • 72 challenging levels
  • Five awesome worlds
  • 10 interactive objects
  • In-game tutorial
  • 30 collectibles
Requirements (subject to change):
  • OS X 10.5 or later
  • 1 GHz processor
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 200 MB hard drive space
  • 1024x768 screen resolution
Lost Head can be pre-ordered now for $6.99 (USD).Lost Head (add to watch list)
Pre-Order Lost Head
Other Mac Games News for Wednesday, September 19, 2012

• Combat Mission: Fortress Italy Demo Released 6:00 AM
• Guild Wars 2 Mac Beta Launched 6:00 AM
• Lost Head Physics Puzzler Launching October 10 6:00 AM
• Project Eternity Mac Confirmed 6:00 AM
• River Simulator 2012 Available At MGS This Month 6:00 AM
• Shadowrun Video Q&A Released 6:00 AM
• Space Pirates And Zombies Invades MGS 6:00 AM
• Sword Of Fargoal 2 Aims To Bring C64 Adventure To Modern Era 6:00 AM
• The Banner Saga: Factions Launching This November 6:00 AM
• The Music Of Pandaria 6:00 AM
 
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, September 19, 2012 on one page

Mac Games News for Tuesday, September 18, 2012

• Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition Delayed, NPC Feature Revealed 6:00 AM
• FTL: Faster Than Light Now Available 6:00 AM
• Mac Version A Possibility For Obsidian's Project Eternity 6:00 AM
• Planetary Annihilation: Third Highest Funded Kickstarter 6:00 AM
 
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, September 18, 2012 on one page


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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Two Cultures Meet: Physics and the Arts in Emergence - ithaca.com

This weekend, Cornell will present an intriguing experiment with the production of Emergence, an interdisciplinary theatre piece exploring the boundaries and interactions between art and science. 

The work is the result of a collaboration among Cornell professor of physics Itai Cohen, director and professor of performing and media arts Melanie Dreyer-Lude, playwright and Ph.D. student Aoise Stratford, with additional contributions from Ph.D. candidate in science communication Megan K. Halpern and Max Evjen, artistic and executive director of Redshift Productions.

The work centers on the character of Amanda, a physicist who is involved in a turbulent relationship while also suffering from agoraphobia. In exploring the struggles in Amanda’s life, the nexus of two seemingly opposed methodologies â€" scientific calculation and artistic expression â€" is revealed. As a work of pure theatre, Emergence would be the relatively straightforward tale of one woman’s tribulations with the challenges of life â€" but Emergence functions on many levels.

As one could surmise from the diverse collaboration team that envisioned the project, the play will be more than just a play. According to director Melanie Dreyer-Lude, “Emergence represents an unusual and significant collaboration between two experts in very different fields. Physicists work from certainty. They like outcomes and measurable [things]. Theater artists are interested in process and subjectivity.” The very concept of the work then is inspired by this interaction between the certitude and dispassion of scientific analysis and the murky, irrational realities of the world in which we all (including scientists) must live, work, and love.

Beyond the themes, the construction of the character of Amanda reflects this objective-subjective dichotomy, through the catalyst of her social difficulties. Living with a foot in both worlds and struggling to find balance, Amanda embodies the perpetual dance we execute to navigate through life. The selection of agoraphobia as Amanda’s ailment is significant â€" it is a chimerical anxiety arising from the perception that one is in an environment one cannot control. While control is central to all scientific experimentation, it is in many ways only an illusion in reality; while Amanda may long for her lover in the solitude of the lab, she may also seek to escape the complex irrationalities of the relationship when forced to participate in it.

The connections and interactions between the arts and sciences abound in Emergence, whose title itself is a reference to the physical field of study called “emergent phenomena.” Emergent phenomena exist only as a function of simple interactions among members of a population of phenomena; they are not present in members of the population. The parallels to life are as obvious as those to science â€" from the people who cross our paths, to the decisions we make about work, romance, or life, we unwittingly construct complex, often unpredictable situations from our many, seemingly insignificant decisions, situations that do not exist without the interactions.

Emergence also includes, in its own complexity, a series of moments of audience participation. Part physics experiment, part theatre, the idea of including the viewers of Emergence makes them more than merely observers, while simultaneously adding to the complexity and the unpredictability of the performance’s realization. This serves of an illustration of Eisenberg’s uncertainty principle, which holds that you can not observe something without affecting it.

Everyone on the production team agrees, Emergence is a surprising and effective illustration of the confluence and synthesis of art and science. Cohen was pleased to find a vehicle for presenting physics in an uncompromising way in a fashion that would make a standard theatre audience receptive and engaged. Director Melanie Dreyer-Lude found surprising parallels between artists and scientists in her collaboration with Cohen. Playwright Aoise Stratford faced the challenge of writing the story for the stage when she reconciled the scientific sides of artists to the creative sides of physicists.

Tickets for Emergence are $4 (+$1 processing fee). For more information or to buy tickets, go to www.schwartztickets.com, call 607-254-ARTS or visit the box office in the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts, 430 College Ave., between 12:30-4 p.m. weekdays. Performances are on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, September  20-22 at 7:30 p.m. in the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts.

Research and Markets: Building Physics - Heat, Air and Moisture - The Herald | HeraldOnline.com

â€" Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/bk32k6/building_physics) has announced the addition of John Wiley and Sons Ltd's new book "Building Physics - Heat, Air and Moisture" to their offering.

Bad experiences with construction quality, the energy crises of 1973 and 1979, complaints about 'sick buildings', thermal, acoustical, visual and olfactory discomfort, the move towards more sustainability, have all accelerated the development of a field, which until 35 years ago was hardly more than an academic exercise: building physics.

Through the application of existing physical knowledge and the combination with information coming from other disciplines, the field helps to understand the physical performance of building parts, buildings and the built environment, and translates it into correct design and construction.

The book discusses the theory behind the heat and mass transport in and through building components. Steady and non steady state heat conduction, heat convection and thermal radiation are discussed in depth, followed by typical building-related thermal concepts such as reference temperatures, surface film coefficients, the thermal transmissivity, the solar transmissivity, thermal bridging and the periodic thermal properties. Water vapour and water vapour flow and moisture flow in and through building materials and building components is analyzed in depth, mixed up with several engineering concepts which allow a first order analysis of phenomena such as the vapour balance, the mold, mildew and dust mites risk, surface condensation, sorption, capillary suction, rain absorption and drying. In a last section, heat and mass transfer are combined into one overall model staying closest to the real hygrothermal response of building components, as observed in field experiments.

The book combines the theory of heat and mass transfer with typical building engineering applications. The line from theory to application is dressed in a correct and clear way. In the theory, oversimplification is avoided.

This book is the result of thirty years teaching, research and consultancy activity of the author.

For more information visit http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/bk32k6/building_physics

Source: John Wiley and Sons Ltd

New Survey Reveals Trends Among Those with Physics Bachelor's - Science Careers Blog (blog)

The American Institute of Physics (AIP) last week released its annual survey of employment trends among recent graduates with a bachelor's degree in physics. The survey consists of responses from nearly 12,000 graduates from the classes of 2009 and 2010. The results show that the following year 60% of them were enrolled in graduate school and 40% had entered the workforce--approximately the same ratio as in recent years. 

Of those 40% who entered the workforce, a slight majority--53%--went into the private sector. Of those private-sector workers, three-quarters work in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, of which engineering is the biggest draw, accounting for 32% of all physics bachelor's degree-holders employed in the private sector. Also popular in the STEM fields are computer and information systems jobs, which account for 21% of physics bachelor's workers. Rounding out the private sector statistics, 8% work in "Other STEM" jobs, 8% work in "Other Natural Sciences" jobs, 5% work in physics and astronomy (highlighting the necessity of a graduate degree to work in these fields), and 26% are employed in non-STEM fields, such as finance, accounting, or hourly-wage jobs.

Workers who took public-sector jobs included those who joined the military, went to work for the government or national labs, work at colleges and universities, or became high school teachers.

The highest-paying of all these jobs, according to AIP's survey, tend to be private-sector jobs in STEM fields, followed closely by STEM jobs in civilian government positions and national laboratories, and then private-sector non-STEM jobs, including quantitative analyst jobs (see Science Careers' coverage of such jobs here).

Survey respondents who worked in STEM fields reported greater overall job satisfaction and job security than those who worked in non-STEM fields, though both categories of workers expressed happiness that they were able to find work in this sluggish economy. When asked about which particular skills they felt had made them employable, many reported that undergraduate research experience helped prop up their credentials, while others suggested that simultaneously learning computer programming skills had broadened their career options.

Also of note is that physics bachelor's degree-holders who enter the workforce don't necessarily forget about higher-education aspirations: 6% of those considered to be employed by the AIP survey were also enrolled in graduate school part-time, and 37% responded that they were planning to enroll in graduate school in the near future.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Holden Thorp: stuck in thermodynamics - N.C. State University Technician Online

The news of UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp’s resignation came on the heels of the scandal involving Tami Hansbrough â€" thickening the plot of the perpetually unfolding athletic scandal. Perhaps this is a story more about a chemistry professor who’s in way over his head than a chancellor linked to corruption.

As the face of UNC-CH, it makes sense for Thorp to resign. However, he could have saved the university some embarrassment with stronger leadership.

Before former head football coach Butch Davis was fired in July 2011, it seemed that Thorp and the university stood firmly behind Davis. Then after fumbling around, the university finally took firm action and fired Davis, as if someone had pulled it by the ear and forced the decision suddenly (perhaps someone did). Even Davis said that he was shocked by his dismissal.

Since that media field day, more and more news about questionable practices and activities inside UNC-CH have surfaced. All the while, Thorp didn’t issue any strong statements or stake a strong leadership position, other than the obligatory university plug that the institution remained committed to academic integrity.

Even Tar Heel fans didn’t seem too pleased with Thorp’s leadership. Shortly after Butch Davis’ firing, anonymous Tar Heel sports fans (and by extension, fans of the university) created a website with a straight-forward message: FireHoldenThorp.com. In the “Our Mission” section of the webpage, the site states:

“We originally built this site because we felt strongly about the leadership and the future of our university. Time and time again Holden Thorp proved that while he may be a great professor and a brilliant educational mind, he was not a leader. His lack of public relations experience and management skills was very apparent over the course of his term as chancellor.”

More than 1,000 people “like” the Facebook page â€" students and fans.

Thorp undoubtedly has a brilliant mind, but has not been the strong leader a university like UNC-CH needs, especially in a time when the institution’s reputation is on the line. After all, it is the state’s flagship university, according to a former interim football coach.

Thorp will stay at UNC-CH as a chemistry professor. To his detriment as chancellor, he probably adhered too strictly to the First Law of Thermodynamics, the law of the conservation of energy, which states that energy cannot be created or destroyed â€" but it doesn’t apply to leadership. 

Thorp will pass the buck he inherited along to someone else, instead of breaking out of the “conservation of energy” mind-set and creating change. But perhaps he will be able to explain this naturally occurring phenomenon, or his shortcomings as a chancellor, better as a professor than as an administrator. Who knows if he learned about thermodynamics at N.C. State as a chemistry instructor in 1991, or as dean of the UNC-CH College of Arts and Sciences in 2007, but this simple law of energetics will have new meaning for soon-to-be professor Thorp this summer.

Will Science Someday Rule Out the Possibility of God? - LiveScience.com

The Helix Nebula
This colour-composite image of the Helix Nebula (NGC 7293) was created from images obtained using the the Wide Field Imager (WFI), an astronomical camera attached to the 2.2-metre Max-Planck Society/ESO telescope at the La Silla observatory in Chile.
CREDIT: CNES 2012/Astrium Services/Spot Image

Over the past few centuries, science can be said to have gradually chipped away at the traditional grounds for believing in God. Much of what once seemed mysterious â€" the existence of humanity, the life-bearing perfection of Earth, the workings of the universe â€" can now be explained by biology, astronomy, physics and other domains of science. 

Although cosmic mysteries remain, Sean Carroll, a theoretical cosmologist at the California Institute of Technology, says there's good reason to think science will ultimately arrive at a complete understanding of the universe that leaves no grounds for God whatsoever.

Carroll argues that God's sphere of influence has shrunk drastically in modern times, as physics and cosmology have expanded in their ability to explain the origin and evolution of the universe. "As we learn more about the universe, there's less and less need to look outside it for help," he told Life's Little Mysteries.

He thinks the sphere of supernatural influence will eventually shrink to nil. But could science really eventually explain everything?

Beginning of time

Gobs of evidence have been collected in favor of the Big Bang model of cosmology, or the notion that the universe expanded from a hot, infinitely dense state to its current cooler, more expansive state over the course of 13.7 billion years. Cosmologists can model what happened from 10^-43 seconds after the Big Bang until now, but the split-second before that remains murky. Some theologians have tried to equate the moment of the Big Bang with the description of the creation of the world found in the Bible and other religious texts; they argue that something â€" i.e., God â€" must have initiated the explosive event.

However, in Carroll's opinion, progress in cosmology will eventually eliminate any perceived need for a Big Bang trigger-puller.

As he explained in a recent article in the "Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity" (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), a foremost goal of modern physics is to formulate a working theory that describes the entire universe, from subatomic to astronomical scales, within a single framework. Such a theory, called "quantum gravity," will necessarily account for what happened at the moment of the Big Bang. Some versions of quantum gravity theory that have been proposed by cosmologists predict that the Big Bang, rather than being the starting point of time, was just "a transitional stage in an eternal universe," in Carroll's words. For example, one model holds that the universe acts like a balloon that inflates and deflates over and over under its own steam. If, in fact, time had no beginning, this shuts the book on Genesis. [Big Bang Was Actually a Phase Change, New Theory Says]

Other versions of quantum gravity theory currently being explored by cosmologists predict that time did start at the Big Bang. But these versions of events don't cast a role for God either. Not only do they describe the evolution of the universe since the Big Bang, but they also account for how time was able to get underway in the first place. As such, these quantum gravity theories still constitute complete, self-contained descriptions of the history of the universe. "Nothing in the fact that there is a first moment of time, in other words, necessitates that an external something is required to bring the universe about at that moment," Carroll wrote.

Another way to put it is that contemporary physics theories, though still under development and awaiting future experimental testing, are turning out to be capable of explaining why Big Bangs occur, without the need for a supernatural jumpstart. As Alex Filippenko, an astrophysicist at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a conference talk earlier this year, "The Big Bang could've occurred as a result of just the laws of physics being there. With the laws of physics, you can get universes."

Parallel universes

But there are other potential grounds for God. Physicists have observed that many of the physical constants that define our universe, from the mass of the electron to the density of dark energy, are eerily perfect for supporting life. Alter one of these constants by a hair, and the universe becomes  unrecognizable. "For example, if the mass of the neutron were a bit larger (in comparison to the mass of the proton) than its actual value, hydrogen would not fuse into deuterium and conventional stars would be impossible," Carroll said. And thus, so would life as we know it. [7 Theories on the Origin of Life]

Theologians often seize upon the so-called "fine-tuning" of the physical constants as evidence that God must have had a hand in them; it seems he chose the constants just for us. But contemporary physics explains our seemingly supernatural good luck in a different way.

Some versions of quantum gravity theory, including string theory, predict that our life-giving universe is but one of an infinite number of universes that altogether make up the multiverse. Among these infinite universes, the full range of values of all the physical constants are represented, and only some of the universes have values for the constants that enable the formation of stars, planets and life as we know it. We find ourselves in one of the lucky universes (because where else?). [Parallel Universes Explained in 200 Words]

Some theologians counter that it is far simpler to invoke God than to postulate the existence of infinitely many universes in order to explain our universe's life-giving perfection. To them, Carroll retorts that the multiverse wasn't postulated as a complicated way to explain fine-tuning. On the contrary, it follows as a natural consequence of our best, most elegant theories.

Once again, if or when these theories prove correct, "a multiverse happens, whether you like it or not," he wrote. And there goes God's hand in things. [Poll: Do You Believe in God?]

The reason why

Another role for God is as a raison d'être for the universe. Even if cosmologists manage to explain how the universe began, and why it seems so fine-tuned for life, the question might remain why there is something as opposed to nothing. To many people, the answer to the question is God. According to Carroll, this answer pales under scrutiny. There can be no answer to such a question, he says.

"Most scientists … suspect that the search for ultimate explanations eventually terminates in some final theory of the world, along with the phrase 'and that's just how it is,'" Carroll wrote. People who find this unsatisfying are failing to treat the entire universe as something unique â€" "something for which a different set of standards is appropriate." A complete scientific theory that accounts for everything in the universe doesn't need an external explanation in the same way that specific things within the universe need external explanations. In fact, Carroll argues, wrapping another layer of explanation (i.e., God) around a self-contained theory of everything would just be an unnecessary complication. (The theory already works without God.)

Judged by the standards of any other scientific theory, the "God hypothesis" does not do very well, Carroll argues. But he grants that "the idea of God has functions other than those of a scientific hypothesis."

Psychology research suggests that belief in the supernatural acts as societal glue and motivates people to follow the rules; further, belief in the afterlife helps people grieve and staves off fears of death.

"We're not designed at the level of theoretical physics," Daniel Kruger, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Michigan, told LiveScience last year. What matters to most people "is what happens at the human scale, relationships to other people, things we experience in a lifetime."

Follow Natalie Wolchover on Twitter @nattyover or Life's Little Mysteries @llmysteries. We're also on Facebook & Google+.

Oxford University Press Joins SCOAP Transparent Open Access Model - Science 2.0

On the road to true Open Publishing, where taxpayer money isn't used to pay to publish or to read already taxpayer-funded studies at all, the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing (SCOAP) in Particle Physics has set a new waypoint, and Oxford University Press has signed up Progress of Theoretical and Experimental Physics (PTEP) for this new transparent model of open access, where members can see how the taxpayer money is being spent.  

Oxford University Press is not jumping into freeing science just yet; they have 5,500 employees in 50 countries worldwide and 6,000 new publications a year.  They have 10 other open access journals in their stable, and PTEP was already a legacy open access journal, so it will not be hurting their revenue - but it is a start down the path to a better way.

The SCOAP model is interesting. High Energy Physics has long embraced Science 2.0 publishing, with the arXiv preprint service leading the way with no costs to authors or readers. Open access came later and most OA journals still charge $1000-2000 per paper where they papers are peer-reviewed or not, and the largest companies do tens of millions of dollars in revenue, money which all still comes from taxpayers, since grants have to pay for it either way. The big advantage to OA is that at least anyone can read the work.

SCOAP does not charge authors to publish.  Instead, HEP funding agencies and libraries cancel their journal subscriptions and then each country supports the peer-review service directly  according to its share of HEP publishing.  Like in legacy OA, publishers make the electronic versions of their journals free to read. 

SCOAP says the total cost of its service will max out at 10 million Euros per year, far less than the global expenditure in subscriptions or open access payments to HEP journals. 

High energy physics is a good test case because physicists have long been leaders in open publishing and the large majority of HEP articles are published in six peer-reviewed journals. The open and competitive procedure conducted by CERN for the benefit of SCOAP took into account the quality of the journals (as measured by their Impact Factor), the quality of the services provided (as measured by their re-use licenses and delivery formats), and the unit price for publishing each article.

SCOAP will start operations in 2014 and articles will be available to read freely in perpetuity under a CC-BY license (authors for the original creation must be credited). Progress of Theoretical and Experimental Physics is owned by the Physical Society of Japan. Norisuke Sakai, Editor-in-Chief, said, “It is a great pleasure to have PTEP included in the SCOAP project. PTEP has now started publishing special issue articles and receiving manuscripts for the regular publications in 2013. The journal is the successor to Progress of Theoretical Physics, founded in 1946 by Hideki Yukawa, the first Japanese Nobel Laureate. I am very excited to start the journal’s new chapter as a fully open access title with the new journal name to cover both experimental and theoretical physics, and look forward to developing our relationship with SCOAP.”

What Is the Smallest Thing in the Universe? - Space.com

Black Hole Singularity
One contender for the smallest thing in the universe is the singularity at the center of a black hole. (Shown here, an artist's drawing of a black hole pulling gas away from a companion star.
CREDIT: NASA E/PO, Sonoma State University, Aurore Simonnet

The answer to the enduring question of the smallest thing in the universe has evolved along with humanity. People once thought grains of sand were the building blocks of what we see around us. Then the atom was discovered, and it was thought indivisible, until it was split to reveal protons, neutrons and electrons inside. These too, seemed like fundamental particles, before scientists discovered that protons and neutrons are made of three quarks each.

"This time we haven't been able to see any evidence at all that there's anything inside quarks," said physicist Andy Parker. "Have we reached the most fundamental layer of matter?"

And even if quarks and electrons are indivisible, Parker said, scientists don't know if they are the smallest bits of matter in existence, or if the universe contains objects that are even more minute. [Graphic: Nature's Tiniest Particles]

Parker, a professor of high-energy physics at England's Cambridge University, recently hosted a television special on the U.K.'s BBC Two channel called "Horizon: How Small is the Universe?"

Strings or points?

In experiments, teensy, tiny particles like quarks and electrons seem to act like single points of matter with no spatial distribution. But point-like objects complicate the laws of physics. Because you can get infinitely close to a point, the forces acting on it can become infinitely large, and scientists hate infinities.

An idea called superstring theory could solve this issue. The theory posits that all particles, instead of being point-like, are actually little loops of string. Nothing can get infinitely close to a loop of string, because it will always be slightly closer to one part than another. That "loophole" appears to solve some of these problems of infinities, making the idea appealing to physicists. Yet scientists still have no experimental evidence that string theory is correct.

Another way of solving the point problem is to say that space itself isn't continuous and smooth, but is actually made of discrete pixels, or grains, sometimes referred to as space-time foam. In that case, two particles wouldn't be able to come infinitely close to each other because they would always have to be separated by the minimum size of a grain of space.

A singularity

Another contender for the title of smallest thing in the universe is the singularity at the center of a black hole. Black holes are formed when matter is condensed in a small enough space that gravity takes over, causing the matter to pull inward and inward, ultimately condensing into a single point of infinite density. At least, according to the current laws of physics.

But most experts don't think black holes are really infinitely dense. They think this infinity is the product of an inherent conflict between two reigning theories â€" general relativity and quantum mechanics â€" and that when a theory of quantum gravity can be formulated, the true nature of black holes will be revealed.

"My guess is that [black hole singularities] are quite a lot smaller than a quark, but I don't believe they're of infinite density," Parker told LiveScience. "Most likely they are maybe a million million times or even more than that smaller than the distances we've seen so far."

That would make singularities roughly the size of superstrings, if they exist.

The Planck length

Superstrings, singularities, and even grains of the universe could all turn out to be about the size of the "Planck length." [Tiny Grandeur: Stunning Photos of the Very Small]

A Planck length is 1.6 x 10^-35 meters (the number 16 preceded by 34 zeroes and a decimal point) â€" an incomprehensibly small scale that is implicated in various aspects of physics.

The Planck length is far and away too small for any instrument to measure, but beyond that, it is thought to represent the theoretical limit of the shortest measureable length. According to the uncertainty principle, no instrument should ever be able to measure anything smaller, because at that range, the universe is probabilistic and indeterminate.

This scale is also thought to be the demarcating line between general relativity and quantum mechanics.

"It corresponds to the distance where the gravitational field is so strong that it can start to do things like make black holes out of the energy of the field," Parker said. "At the Planck length we expect quantum gravity takes over."

Perhaps all of the universe's smallest things are roughly the size of the Planck length.

This story was provided by LiveScience, sister site to SPACE.com. Follow Clara Moskowitz on Twitter @ClaraMoskowitz or LiveScience @livescience. We're also on Facebook & Google+.

Nobel laureate in physics will give public lecture as part of international ... - Fort Worth Star Telegram (blog)

No word on whether Sheldon, Leonard or Penny will be there, but the International Workshop on Future Linear Colliders will draw plenty of star power to the University of Texas at Arlington in late October. Particle physicists from around the world will attend, and Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg will deliver a public lecture Oct. 24.

Weinberg, the Jack S. Josey-Welch Foundation Chair in Science Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, has published his ideas in books for general audiences including The First Three Minutes, Dreams of a Final Theory and Lake Views. He will speak on "The Standard Model, Higgs Boson, Who cares?" at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24. 

Swnewpic

The semiannual conference, being held in Texas for the first time, has added significance because of the July 4 announcement from researchers at the Large Hadron Collider at the European Center for Nuclear Research, or CERN, that they've almost certainly found the elusive Higgs boson. As the next step in discovery, the proposed International Linear Collider would be a 19.3-mile-long collider to complement and expand the work of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, said Jaehoon Yu, UT Arlington physics professor and co-organizer of the event.  UTA_COLLIDER_03_21209133

"This summer's announcement of a Higgs-like particle allows us to take the linear collider idea to the next level," Yu said. "... The linear collider could give us a host of new information about this new particle and help address other mysteries such as dark matter and dark energy." 

Scientists at the October gathering will discuss concepts for the ILC, which consists of two linear accelerators that face each other, and the Compact Linear Collider, another potential project being studied at CERN. Both colliders would ultimately reach energies of 1 TeV (trillion electron volts) or more. 

Yu and other scientists from UT Arlington's Center of Excellence for High Energy Physics have worked on the LHC for more than a decade. He and professor Andrew White are also heavily involved in plans for the International Linear Collider, an estimated $10 billion project that would take a decade to build. 

-Patrick M. Walker

Smallest 'snowman' - National Physics Laboratory sets world record - World Record Academy


  Saturday, December 5, 2009

  Smallest 'snowman' - National Physics Laboratory sets world record

 LONDON, UK -- Experts at the National Physics Laboratory (NPL) have created a snowman, made of two tiny tin beads usually used to calibrate electron microscope lenses, measuring just 0.01mm across , setting the world record for the Smallest 'snowman'.

   Photo: The world's smallest snowman is just one fifth of the width of a strand of hair and is made of two tiny tin beads. Photo by Dr David Cox / National Physical Laboratory
  (enlarge photo)

   While the creation, once magnified in a blue light, looks like the product of a child's imagination, it was put together using hi-tech gadgetry.

   
It was assembled using tools designed to manipulate nano-particles, and welded together with tiny deposits of platinum. A focused ion beam was used to carve the eyes and smile, and to place the platinum nose.

   The the Smallest 'snowman' was created by Dr David Cox, a member of the Quantum Detection group at the laboratory.

   The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is one of the UK's leading science facilities and research centres. It is a world-leading centre of excellence in developing and applying the most accurate measurement standards.

    The techniques used to create the the Smallest 'snowman' are employed by NPL:
   * To make and fine tune Atomic Force Microscope cantilevers for measuring surface topography.
   * To manufacture nano scale SQUIDs (Superconducting Quantum Interference Devices) for a wide range of future metrological applications including spintronics, single particle detection, NEMS and quantum information processing.
    * To measure magnetic properties of very small magnetic systems using quantum hall probes

    This hardly represents the craziest science taking place on a small scale. Harvard University has used programmed DNA to create little gears, tubes and wireframe balls. Columbia University also created self-assembling nanogears for those future hordes of tiny robots. 
   Related world records:
    Most Santas skating in a Conga Line-Warwick Castle sets world record

  Most expensive Christmas bauble-Hallmark Jewellers sets world record

  Biggest fireworks show on the barge-Fireworks do Brasil sets world record

  Biggest New Year Party-world record set by Rio de Janeiro
 
   Largest Santa Claus ice sculpture-world record set by Chinese sculptors

  Tallest sand sculpture of Santa Claus-world record set by Sudarsan Patnaik

   Largest winter footwear-world record set by Tsar-Valenok

   Longest letter to Santa Claus-world record set by the Romanian Post

   Tallest snowman-world record set by Bethel residents    

   Saturday, December 5, 2009

What Is the Smallest Thing in the Universe? - LiveScience.com

An artist's drawing shows a large stellar-mass black hole pulling gas away from a companion star.
One contender for the smallest thing in the universe is the singularity at the center of a black hole. (Shown here, an artist's drawing of a black hole pulling gas away from a companion star.
CREDIT: NASA E/PO, Sonoma State University, Aurore Simonnet

The answer to the enduring question of the smallest thing in the universe has evolved along with humanity. People once thought grains of sand were the building blocks of what we see around us. Then the atom was discovered, and it was thought indivisible, until it was split to reveal protons, neutrons and electrons inside. These too, seemed like fundamental particles, before scientists discovered that protons and neutrons are made of three quarks each.

"This time we haven't been able to see any evidence at all that there's anything inside quarks," said physicist Andy Parker. "Have we reached the most fundamental layer of matter?"

And even if quarks and electrons are indivisible, Parker said, scientists don't know if they are the smallest bits of matter in existence, or if the universe contains objects that are even more minute. [Graphic: Nature's Tiniest Particles]

Parker, a professor of high-energy physics at England's Cambridge University, recently hosted a television special on the U.K.'s BBC Two channel called "Horizon: How Small is the Universe?"

Strings or points?

In experiments, teensy, tiny particles like quarks and electrons seem to act like single points of matter with no spatial distribution. But point-like objects complicate the laws of physics. Because you can get infinitely close to a point, the forces acting on it can become infinitely large, and scientists hate infinities.

An idea called superstring theory could solve this issue. The theory posits that all particles, instead of being point-like, are actually little loops of string. Nothing can get infinitely close to a loop of string, because it will always be slightly closer to one part than another. That "loophole" appears to solve some of these problems of infinities, making the idea appealing to physicists. Yet scientists still have no experimental evidence that string theory is correct.

Another way of solving the point problem is to say that space itself isn't continuous and smooth, but is actually made of discrete pixels, or grains, sometimes referred to as space-time foam. In that case, two particles wouldn't be able to come infinitely close to each other because they would always have to be separated by the minimum size of a grain of space.

A singularity

Another contender for the title of smallest thing in the universe is the singularity at the center of a black hole. Black holes are formed when matter is condensed in a small enough space that gravity takes over, causing the matter to pull inward and inward, ultimately condensing into a single point of infinite density. At least, according to the current laws of physics.

But most experts don't think black holes are really infinitely dense. They think this infinity is the product of an inherent conflict between two reigning theories â€" general relativity and quantum mechanics â€" and that when a theory of quantum gravity can be formulated, the true nature of black holes will be revealed.

"My guess is that [black hole singularities] are quite a lot smaller than a quark, but I don't believe they're of infinite density," Parker told LiveScience. "Most likely they are maybe a million million times or even more than that smaller than the distances we've seen so far."

That would make singularities roughly the size of superstrings, if they exist.

The Planck length

Superstrings, singularities, and even grains of the universe could all turn out to be about the size of the "Planck length." [Tiny Grandeur: Stunning Photos of the Very Small]

A Planck length is 1.6 x 10^-35 meters (the number 16 preceded by 34 zeroes and a decimal point) â€" an incomprehensibly small scale that is implicated in various aspects of physics.

The Planck length is far and away too small for any instrument to measure, but beyond that, it is thought to represent the theoretical limit of the shortest measureable length. According to the uncertainty principle, no instrument should ever be able to measure anything smaller, because at that range, the universe is probabilistic and indeterminate.

This scale is also thought to be the demarcating line between general relativity and quantum mechanics.

"It corresponds to the distance where the gravitational field is so strong that it can start to do things like make black holes out of the energy of the field," Parker said. "At the Planck length we expect quantum gravity takes over."

Perhaps all of the universe's smallest things are roughly the size of the Planck length.

Follow Clara Moskowitz on Twitter @ClaraMoskowitz or LiveScience @livescience. We're also on Facebook & Google+.

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APPLAUSE - Sacramento Bee

Kudos to: Dean Baird, Rio Americano High School physics teacher

Accomplishment: Received a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Details: Baird traveled to the White House in June to receive his certificate and to meet fellow winners and Vice President Joe Biden. "The students that I get in physics are not scientists, they're not engineers, they're not mathematicians," Baird told a San Juan Unified School District online publication. "They're just kids that are ready to go to college. I want to give them a broad appreciation for physics and the role that it plays in their life."

Kudos to: Susan Taylor, Sacramento State professor

Accomplishment: Mental Health Champion award from Sacramento County

Details: Taylor stresses the importance to connect with students before stressful situations become so dire that they can lead to suicide. She spends her time with the college community, developing training around mental health awareness and intervention.

Kudos to: North Country Elementary School in Antelope

Accomplishment: Received grant to develop a program called "The Leader in Me."

Details: "The Leader in Me" program endeavors to bring higher academic achievement, fewer discipline problems and increased interaction between teachers and parents. "The Leader in Me" is designed to foster leadership and personal responsibility.

â€" Bill Lindelof

blindelof@sacbee.com

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Planetary Peace Broadcast: A Unique Experiment in Cosmic Physics - Washington Bangla Radio

The Planetary Peace Broadcast

Washington DC, September 16, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio) On September 21, a formal announcement of The Planetary Peace Broadcast will be presented at the Sedona Creative Life Center.  The Planetary Peace Broadcast is a 24 hour media event focusing on three aspects of peace:  Peace among nations, Peace with the planet, and Spiritual Peace within.

Because Sedona residents have played a key role in bringing this project to manifestation, the producers of the Broadcast have decided to make a sacred ceremony of this presentation in Sedona.  This event will also be announcing the formal designation of Sedona as â€Å"City of Peace”.  Mayor Rob Adams has recorded a message on these topics which will be presented.

That evening, the sponsors will detail their plan to unify the consciousness of Humanity for 10 minutes on December 21st.  This is an experiment in cosmic physics to see how the unified power of everyday individuals can be used to accomplish changes that no government, no army, no corporation or powerful group, can accomplish.  The only way it can be accomplished is through the unification of Humanity for a specific time, which is what is planned for the final 10 minutes of the Broadcast.

Guests will see an introductory video to the Broadcast, which is planned as the largest media event in history for the highest cause – positive planetary change by a united Humanity.

Sedona artists are invited to attend and hear how their talents can be incorporated into the 24 hour broadcast.  The Producers are seeking music, video footage, graphics and short inspirational clips. Administrative helpers and volunteers of all talents are welcomed.

If you are in alignment with these goals, you will want to attend and learn how you can be a part of this historic event.

Music is being provided by local artist Thunderbeat.  Spoken Word will be by Chris Spheeris, and featuring a performance by the SacredCircus.

The finale for all to participate in is â€Å"Barefoot Dancing for Peace” with”Sacred Jam & Holy Peanut Butter”.

Suggested donation is $10.  For more information, visit the website at www.planpeace.org.

India may win a Physics Nobel Prize in the next decade? - Rediff

Country's scientific community may be at the cusp of securing a Nobel in the physical sciences, says Devijyot Ghoshal

After decades of losing out some of its finest minds to the West, India's [ Images ] scientific community may finally be at the cusp of securing a Nobel Prize [ Images ] in the physical sciences, widely considered as the highest recognition in the field. 

David Pendlebury, a bibliometric analysis consultant with Thomson Reuters and a leading predictor of the Nobel awards, believes that the country's track record in scientific research, particularly in the physical sciences, could mean that an Indian scientist may win the prize within the next decade. 

"We are certainly seeing very healthy signs in the production and contribution of Indian scientists to the influential international journals," Pendlebury told Business Standard. "For India, in specific, in the last 10 to 15 years, we have also seen a tremendous increase." 

Since Independence, the Nobel Prize in the sciences has been won by three Indians -- Har Gobind Khorana, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar and Venkatraman Ramakrishnan [ Images ]. However, they were all foreign citizens at the time of receiving the award. 

But, between 2000 and 2010, India's world share of research papers, derived from internationally influential, peer-review journals indexed by Thomson Reuters, has risen from 2.2 per cent to 3.4 per cent. Moreover, since 2010 alone, this share has jumped to 3.7 per cent last year. 

"After the base is grown, then you see scientists who are the best come up," Pendlebury added. "There is no geographic monopoly of genius. We are going to find, especially considering the population of India and China, Nobel Prize winners from Asia." 

Almost 80 per cent of India's total research and development work continues to be funded by the government, said Vinay Singh, Thomson Reuters' India director for intellectual property and science, with private funding making up the remaining 20 per cent. 

"But in the last five years or so, with more Indian companies going global and making acquisition overseas, the focus is changing and there is more investment in R&D (research and development)," he said. In particular, India's pharmaceutical and automobile industries are big spenders in research. 

At the same time, private sector initiatives like the Infosys [ Get Quote ] Science Foundation -- a not-for-profit trust set-up by the information technology firm and some of its board members, which annually awards the Infosys Prize researchers and scientists -- is helping create a research ecosystem within the country. 

International attention, too, is playing its part. In July 2012, for instance, Indian theoretical physicist Ashoke Sen won the $3 million Fundamental Physics Prize -- more than double of what the Nobel Prize brings with it -- for his research on string theory. Sen works at Allahabad's Harish-Chandra Research Institute, which is funded by the Department of Atomic Energy. 

Sen's award represents India's strength in the physical sciences. Although India's research portfolio is grounded in traditional disciples, such as those related to agriculture, the country's highest world share of papers includes chemistry, pharmacology and material sciences. 

"I think it (the Nobel Prize) is more likely in the physical sciences -- so physics and chemistry -- and the biological sciences. I can't say absolutely but based on the data that we look at, they seem to be coming in the physical sciences for India," he explained. 

What will also help India is that increasing opportunities in the subcontinent will allow scientists to conduct their research here, a crucial factor for incubating a homegrown winner. 

"I think two things will happen: you'll see top scientists return more and more (to their home countries), and you'll see these homegrown scientists who will eventually, in some years, get the Nobel Prize," Pendlebury added. "But the Nobel Prize is awarded for research done a long time ago."

Saturday, September 15, 2012

World's shortest laser pulse to shed new light on quantum mechanics - Gizmag

Since first invented, the effort to make lasers that can produce shorter and more powerful pulses of light has been a very active one. One driving force is that if you want to take a picture of something occurring very rapidly, you need a very short pulse of light to prevent the image from blurring. The first ruby laser produced microsecond pulses of light, but more recently femtosecond optical pulses a billion times shorter have become common. Still shorter pulses belong to the attosecond regime - the regime wherein a University of Central Florida research team is creating optical pulses sufficiently brief to stop quantum mechanics in its tracks.

An attosecond is a millionth of a picosecond, or 10âˆ'18 of a second. Light travels 0.3 nanometers in an attosecond, which is roughly the spacing between atoms in a solid. To put this another way â€" an attosecond is to a second as a second is to twice the age of the Universe.

A one attosecond pulse of light would mostly be made of x-rays, as less energetic photons have wavelengths too long to fit in the pulse. Despite these amazing properties, University of Central Florida Physics Professor Zenghu Chang has managed to develop methods and apparatus for generating attosecond pulses of light one at a time. His shortest pulse is a mere 67 attoseconds. So fast that Prof. Chang needed to create a new sort of camera just to measure the pulses.

Prof. Chang's attosecond optical pulse generator

The key to attosecond technology is extremely nonlinear optical interactions. When a noble gas atom is hit by a laser pulse having an electric field strength of about the same magnitude of the atom's own field, an outer electron is removed, leaving an ion and a free electron. The free electron is then accelerated by the electric field of the light. As the direction of the light's electric field oscillates back and forth, so too the electron will move back and forth in response to that field. First the electron moves away from the ion, and then returns to the ion as the electric field changes direction. When the electron recombines with the ion, the resulting atom is in a very highly excited state, owing to the kinetic energy the electron gained from its interaction with the electric field. The atom then emits its excess energy as a photon. Because of the acceleration of the electron, however, the photon emitted has far more energy than does a photon from the incoming beam.

Simplified schematic of Chang's attosecond optical pulse generator. Nonlinear interaction ...

Simplified schematic of Chang's attosecond optical pulse generator. Nonlinear interaction of the focused femtosecond pulses with the inert gas in the cell shortens the input pulses by a factor of a thousand.

In Prof. Chang's work, attosecond pulses are generated by interacting intense femtosecond lasers with noble gases, typically krypton. His laser forms pulses of light with a wavelength of 800 nm having a duration of 35 femtoseconds (1000 times longer than an attosecond) and an energy of 11 mJ per pulse. This corresponds to an optical power of about 0.3 gigawatts, which is more than enough to power nonlinear optical interactions.

The shortest pulse generated in Chang's lab has a duration of 67 attoseconds, corresponding to a length of some 20 nm. The pulse contains photons having a range of energies from about 55 to 130 eV, which means the attosecond pulse contains photons having energies more than 100 times those of the original photons.

Data contrasting the pulse characterization of Chang's PROOF technique with the standard t...

Data contrasting the pulse characterization of Chang's PROOF technique with the standard technique

Once you have created a brief pulse, it would be nice to know just how short it is. To accomplish this Prof. Chang created a very fast camera, the Phase Retrieval by Omega Oscillation Filtering (PROOF). The PROOF technique is highly complex, made difficult by the need to characterize pulses whose bandwidth is greater than their peak frequency. It requires further refinement, but the figures above demonstrate that PROOF is more accurate on such pulses than conventional streak camera methods (labelled CRAB).

“Dr. Chang’s success in making ever-shorter light pulses helps open a new door to a previously hidden world, where we can watch electrons move in atoms and molecules, and follow chemical reactions as they take place,” said Michael Johnson, physicist and Dean of the UCF College of Sciences. “It is astounding to imagine that we may now be able to watch quantum mechanics in process.”

Chang's new laser system which will generate 5 femtosecond pulses with 150 millijoules ene...

Chang's new laser system which will generate 5 femtosecond pulses with 150 millijoules energy per pulse

A large proportion of the quantum mechanical phenomena that control our world, such as electrons moving to form or break chemical bonds, occur at extremely short time scales, as small as 100 zeptoseconds (a zeptosecond is a thousandth of an attosecond). To see what is going on, you need a flash short enough to freeze the action. Prof. Chang is confident that his methods can be extended to generate zeptosecond pulses with an energy of a microjoule, yielding a power of ten trillion watts.

This means that Prof. Chang's research is quickly approaching the point of directly observing phenomena which we have only understood from indirect evidence, an exciting prospect for scientists, engineers, and the rest of us who will benefit from new opportunities opened by attosecond instrumentation.

Source: University of Central Florida

Intrusion 2 Is 20% Off On Steam, Features Physics-Based Action - Cinema Blend

published: 2012-09-15 15:28:17

One of the most wildly inventive side-scrollers to release this year is a game called Intrusion 2 by Aleksey Abramenko. The game fuses classic Contra-style run and gun action with new-school physics-based mechanics and vehicular interaction. It's almost like if Metal Slug, Gunforce and Just Cause 2 got together and had a Russian baby, it would be named Intrusion 2.

The game is typical lone-wolf soldier on a mission to stop some bad guys and he actually gets to ride a lone wolf in the game. I kid you not. There are mechs, swords, grappling hooks, physics-based interaction, a wide variety of weapons and nine action packed missions. Check it out and be “wowed” at the awesomeness of the game in the trailer below.

That game really does rock hard. It's so sad that only indie devs come up with this kind of stuff and do so without throwing away $20 million on a cookie-cutter concept.

There isn't too much more to say especially since there's a free demo and with the game being 20% off you only have to spend a measly $7.99. I mean, that's practically chump change (unless you live in America, that's two gallons of gas money to get back home after a day's work.)

Still, if you're looking for a hip, budget-priced title with new-school game mechanics and lots of fun factors, Intrusion 2 is a game worth checking out over on the official Steam page.

discussion

Curie museum lifts veil on the glory days of physics - Yahoo! Philippines News

A museum scarcely bigger than a Paris flat sheds light on a momentous era for physics, a time of heroic individuals who made extraordinary discoveries but often at hideous risk.

Within the walls of the former "Radium Institute" in the city's Latin Quarter is the preserved laboratory of Marie Curie, central figure of the greatest dynasty in modern science.

The Polish-born genius, her husband Pierre, their daughter Irene and son-in-law Frederic Joliot were colossuses of physics and chemistry, between them notching up five Nobel prizes in just over three decades.

Arriving as a student in Paris in 1891, Marie Curie experienced grinding poverty, xenophobia and hostility from the scientific establishment; at her death in 1934, she was a mega-star, mourned by the public and showered with honours.

The Curies helped rip aside the veil hiding radioactivity, even coining the term for it. They discovered two new elements, polonium and radium, and made artificial radioactivity from stable elements such as boron and magnesium.

They contributed hugely to health, setting up mobile X-ray machines for hospitals on the World War I trenches. And they walloped cancer, pioneering the first studies into isotopes to kill tumorous cells.

Stepping into Marie Curie's lab is to be timewarped to the era of horizon-sweeping ideas and men and women with a restless, questing spirit.

"When I first went into her office, into the sanctuary, it was almost like being in the presence of something sacred," Claude Huriet, president of the Institut Curie, which runs the museum and famous Curie cancer hospital, told AFP.

In 1903, Marie Curie became the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize, sharing the physics award with her husband and a pioneer in radioactivity, Henri Becquerel.

Eight years later, she became the sole winner of the Nobel Prize for chemistry. She remains the only individual to win a Nobel in multiple sciences.

The two preserved rooms are part of the 150-square-metre (1,600-square-feet) Musee Curie, opening after a two-year refurbishment paid by a $1-million (787,000-euro) legacy by the Curies' younger daughter, Eve, who died in 2007.

-- With reward, mortal risks --

The museum gives a glimpse of an age of derring-do and making-do that compares starkly with today, when the search for the Higgs Boson has cost at least $6 billion and mustered 5,000 physicists.

Go back a century, and physicists often had to make their own instruments -- wonderful gadgets of brass and mahogany -- just to be able to measure their own experiments. Chemists employed an on-site glassblower to make test tubes.

Pierre and Marie had a ramshackle building -- "a cross between a stable and a potato shed," sneered visiting German chemist Wilhelm Ostwald -- where they carried out a now-legendary search for radium.

They hauled in a tonne of pitchblende, a radioactive slag, from a mine in Bohemia and separated it in the shed, boiling up the material with toxic chemicals and stirring it in a cauldron with a heavy iron bar. After three years' labour, they had isolated one-tenth of a gramme of radium chloride.

The building had no safety measures, was poorly ventilated and even let in the rain.

At night, unaware of the peril, they admired the fruit of their work as it lay on a pine table: tubes of radium fragments that exuded a pretty bluish "fairy-like glow," in Marie's words.

Even today, the notebooks in which they recorded their work from 1897-1900 are so radioactive that any scholar who wishes to consult them at France's National Library has to sign a certificate that he or she is doing so at their own risk.

It is no surprise that Pierre Curie, who was accidentally killed by a horse-drawn carriage in 1906, showed many symptoms of radiation sickness.

But at that time nothing was known about ionising radiation, or particles that snap DNA bonds in cells, turning them cancerous.

"After (the) Chernobyl (disaster in 1986), people associated radioactivity with fear. But in those days, it was completely different, people thought that radioactivity was simply fantastic," said museum director Renaud Huynh.

In the 1920s, posh families would buy special taps with radium salt tablets to make their drinking water "curative". Wealthy women would buy "Tho-Radia" beauty cream created by a "Dr Alfred Curie" (no relation to the Curies). And "sexually weak" men would be urged to insert "Vita Radium Suppositories" to restore potency.

In the late 1920s, the love-fest for radioactivity faded as its dangers became clear.

But awareness came tragically too late for Marie Curie.

After years of exposure to radioactive elements and X-rays, she died of leukaemia in 1934 at the age of 66. Less than 22 years later, the same fate awaited Irene, aged just 58.

India`s race for a Physics Nobel Prize within the next decade - Business Standard

India`s race for a Physics Nobel Prize within the next decade
Country?s scientific community may be at the cusp of securing a Nobel in the physical sciences
Devjyot Ghoshal / New Delhi Sep 16, 2012, 00:05 IST

After decades of losing out some of its finest minds to the West, India’s scientific community may finally be at the cusp of securing a Nobel Prize in the physical sciences, widely considered as the highest recognition in the field.

David Pendlebury, a bibliometric analysis consultant with Thomson Reuters and a leading predictor of the Nobel awards, believes that the country’s track record in scientific research, particularly in the physical sciences, could mean that an Indian scientist may win the prize within the next decade.

“We are certainly seeing very healthy signs in the production and contribution of Indian scientists to the influential international journals,” Pendlebury told Business Standard. “For India, in specific, in the last 10 to 15 years, we have also seen a tremendous increase.”

Since independence, the Nobel Prize in the sciences have been won by three Indians â€" Har Gobind Khorana, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar and Venkatraman Ramakrishnan. However, they were all foreign citizens at the time of receiving the award.

But, between 2000 and 2010, India’s world share of research papers, derived from internationally influential, peer-review journals indexed by Thomson Reuters, has risen from 2.2 per cent to 3.4 per cent. Moreover, since 2010 alone, this share has jumped to 3.7 per cent last year.

“After the base is grown, then you see scientists who are the best come up,” Pendlebury added. “There is no geographic monopoly of genius. We are going to find, especially considering the population of India and China, Nobel Prize winners from Asia.”

Almost 80 per cent of India’s total research and development work continues to be funded by the government, said Vinay Singh, Thomson Reuters’ India director for intellectual property and science, with private funding making up the remaining 20 per cent.

“But in the last five years or so, with more Indian companies going global and making acquisition overseas, the focus is changing and there is more investment in R&D (research and development),” he said. In particular, India’s pharmaceutical and automobile industries are big spenders in research.

At the same time, private sector initiatives like the Infosys Science Foundation â€" a not-for-profit trust set-up by the information technology firm and some of its board members, which annually awards the Infosys Prize researchers and scientists â€" is helping create a research ecosystem within the country.

International attention, too, is playing its part. In July 2012, for instance, Indian theoretical physicist Ashoke Sen won the $3 million Fundamental Physics Prize â€" more than double of what the Nobel Prize brings with it â€" for his research on string theory. Sen works at Allahabad’s Harish-Chandra Research Institute, which is funded by the Department of Atomic Energy.

Sen’s award represents India’s strength in the physical sciences. Although India’s research portfolio is grounded in traditional disciples, such as those related to agriculture, the country’s highest world share of papers includes chemistry, pharmacology and material sciences.

“I think it (the Nobel Prize) is more likely in the physical sciences â€" so physics and chemistry â€" and the biological sciences. I can’t say absolutely but based on the data that we look at, they seem to be coming in the physical sciences for India,” he explained.

What will also help India is that increasing opportunities in the subcontinent will allow scientists to conduct their research here, a crucial factor for incubating a homegrown winner.

“I think two things will happen: you’ll see top scientists return more and more (to their home countries), and you’ll see these homegrown scientists who will eventually, in some years, get the Nobel Prize,” Pendlebury added. “But the Nobel Prize is awarded for research done a long time ago.”

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