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  1. High Energy Regions in Radiation Belt Around Earth Speed Up Electrons to Nearly the Speed of Light

    We knew there was radiation out there, but we didn't realize it was basically a nitrous booster for subatomic particles

    We've got good news for anyone who's ever dreamed of taking a trip to CERN to see how a giant particle accelerator operates -- you can save yourself a plane ticket. As it turns out, the Earth itself is surrounded by a radiation belt that contains regions of energy that act like particle accelerators

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  2. These Are Pictures of Electron Orbitals

    What's the new in hot, hot physics eye-candy? Pictures of electron orbitals. Using an atomic force microscope (AFM), physicists have been able to take the closest look at atomic structure that we've ever seen, getting down as far as electron orbitals. Now, what you see above are pictures of the places around the nucleli of the atoms where electrons are most likely to be. Where are the actual electrons? Well, I'm no scientographist, but allow me to explain to the best of my ability.

    You can't actually get a depiction of any actual electrons because they are never actually in any single point-location. You see, electrons straddle the line between particle and wave, so you can find the probability that an electron exists in a given place, but not the actual electron. The models you probably learned in school are a bit oversimplified in order to avoid having to explain that you can never really isolate a single electron (or because your textbooks were from the early 60s).

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  3. Diamonds Are A Quantum Computer's Best Friend

    Quantum computing is a new and exciting field, emerging from the ability to utilize quantum mechanics to create computers that can perform complex operations on data. Scientists have been making progress developing quantum computers and they know what is required to make such a system. Though they have developed working systems, scientists still believe that no existing machine has reached the full potential of quantum computing. The trend in quantum computing research is shifting away from proof-of-principle and focusing on trying to make a better way to control quantum bits (qubits) to perform operations. New research described in papers in Nature Physics by a team from the Center for Spintronics and Quantum Computation at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Physical Letters Review by a team from the Department of NanoBiophotonics at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Germany has found that impure diamonds may be an effective architecture for quantum computing.

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  4. Study: Electrons are Really, Really Spherical

    A new report shows that electrons are, in fact, quite spherical. According to the findings from a team at Imperial College, electrons appear to be within 0.000000000000000000000000001 cm of being perfectly spheres, which is actually the margin of error of the equipment used to take the measurement. If that figure were accurate, and reflected the actual shape of the electron, it's hard to imagine the context. For that, from Wired:

    To put that in context; if an electron was the size of the solar system, it would be out from being perfectly round by less than the width of a human hair.
    To determine the roundness of electrons, scientists observed the subatomic particles with lasers, looking for any wobbling as the electrons spun. The degree of the wobble would indicate the degree to which electrons were not spherical. No wobbling was observed, forcing the researchers to conclude that as far as their instruments were concerned, electrons are perfect spheres. Of course, no scientist can ever be satisfied, and the team is planning on backing up their research with new experiments derived from recent work done with antimatter. In forthcoming experiments, molecules will chilled to extremely low temperatures in order to greater control the movement of electrons. Hopefully, the team can take even more accurate measurements and add a few more zeros behind that decimal point. (Wired via BoingBoing)

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