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Capturing Light at Light Speed, Detecting Clandestine Nuclear Tests, The Mechanical Elegance of Proteins, Pakistan's Nuclear Taj Mahal and Islands of Plastic Garbage

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WASHINGTON D.C., February 5, 2015 -- The following articles are freely available online from Physics Today (www.physicstoday.org), the world's most influential and closely followed magazine devoted to physics and the physical science community.

You are invited to read, share, blog about, link to, or otherwise enjoy:

1) FILMING LIGHT AT LIGHT SPEED

Physics Today's Ashley Smart reports on the development of a camera that can exploit a strategy known as compressed sensing to capture video at 100 billion frames per second.

"Lihong Wang and coworkers at Washington University in St. Louis have developed a camera that can record at 10 11 frames per second, good enough to capture the movement of light at millimeter length scales. The camera marries streak photography, an ultrafast imaging technique previously limited to filming in one spatial dimension, with compressive sensing, a mathematical strategy for reconstructing an entire scene from an incomplete set of measurements. 'The camera has countless potential applications,' comments Mário Figueiredo of Instituto Superior Técnico in Lisbon, Portugal. 'It’s sort of like a microscope for time.'”

MORE: http://tinyurl.com/kfhomaa

 

2) HIDING NUCLEAR TESTS IN VAIN

Physics Today's David Kramer reports on a recent exercise conducted in Jordan by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization to evaluate the organization's ability to uncover clandestine nuclear activity.

"Did the nation of Maridia secretly detonate a nuclear device? That was the question that Alluvia posed to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization after the CTBTO’s international monitoring system detected an ambiguous seismic event originating in Maridia.

'Through this exercise, we have shown the world that it is absolutely hopeless to try to hide a nuclear explosion from us. We’ve now mastered all components of the verification regime,' CTBTO executive secretary Lassina Zerbo said in a statement."

MORE: http://tinyurl.com/pesfdz5

 

3) PROTEINS AS EXQUISITE NANOMACHINES

In this feature, assistant professor of chemical engineering Alex Dunn and doctoral student in biophysics Andrew Price, both of Stanford University, discuss the fine chemical interplay and nano-mechanical processes that underlie cellular processes essential to life.

"Life is intrinsically mechanical. Animals run, fly, and swim. Plants move daily to track the Sun. Even microscopic organisms, first observed more than three centuries ago when Antoni van Leeuwenhoek trained his microscope on pond water, swarm and tumble. A look at our own cells reveals that subcellular components are in constant motion, which allows living cells to grow, divide, change shape, and move.”

MORE: http://tinyurl.com/kfwpn8r

 

4) PAKISTAN'S NUCLEAR TAJ MAHAL

In this article, Stuart Leslie, a professor in the department of history of science and technology at the Johns Hopkins University, discusses the history and inception of the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology.

"Unlike the famed wonder of the world to which it has been compared, Pakistan’s nuclear Taj Mahal attracts no tourists or pilgrims these days, only physicists and engineers. With its decorative dome concealing the reactor shield, soaring exhaust stack in place of a minaret, and formal gardens, fountains, and reflecting pools, it seemed to herald the scientific future in much the same way as the original Taj Mahal exemplified the artistic and scientific renaissance of its day.”

MORE: http://tinyurl.com/klv28zz

 

5) PLASTIC GARBAGE ACCUMULATING IN THE OCEAN

In this quick study, University of New South Wales oceanographer Erik van Sebille discusses the circulation patterns that lead to patches of floating plastic in the middle of the ocean.

"Plastic is one of the best materials ever invented, but it doesn’t belong in the ocean. Large pieces of it can entangle turtles, birds, sharks, and other marine animals. Tiny bits of plastic, the result of the degrading actions of waves and sun, can linger for decades; once they get into the food chain, they, too, can adversely affect marine life. Many scientists and concerned citizens alike think that humankind should try to clean up oceanic plastic. But before we can best start the process, we need to understand how plastic moves through the ocean.”

MORE: http://tinyurl.com/lqbcwks

 

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