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Physical Review Letters

  1. Welcome to the Periodic Table! Existence of Element 115 Confirmed

    Well, that's one less spot on the periodic table that reads "Here there be dragons."

    New experiments reported today in the journal Physical Review Letters confirm that researchers have created atoms of a new element. The super heavy element, with an atomic number of 115, has been a subject of interest since Russian researchers saw signs of it a decade ago, though new evidence all but guarantees it a place on the periodic table.

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  2. Flagella Let Some Bacteria Swim Through Mucus More Easily Than Water

    Researchers think they've learned why some bacteria can swim through gels as easily as we glide through a lake.

    While snot is unpleasant, it's a necessary evil, trapping dust and bacteria before they enter our bodies. Some bacteria, though, are able to swim through mucus even more effectively than water. Now, researchers think they've learned how the specialized flagella these bacteria propel themselves with allow them to move through thick gels with ease.

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  3. Researchers Trap Light for One Full Minute, New Super Villain Weaponry Likely on Its Way

    The feat shatters the previous record and could mean big things for quantum memory.

    A team of scientists at Germany's University of Darmstadt have broken a major -- and bizarre -- record, bringing light itself to a full stop inside a crystalline structure and keeping it stopped for a full minute. The groundbreaking research could have major implications for storing information in quantum memory.

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  4. I Want One! Physicists Create Desktop-Sized Antimatter Gun

    The gun could help researchers study black holes by creating bursts of similar particles right in the lab.

    hose of you looking to begin a career in supervillainy will want to take note of this story -- researchers working at the University of Michigan have succeeded in building an antimatter gun small enough that it can rest on a standard desktop. And, when it's not resting , it can fire brief blasts of electrons and their antimatter counterpart, positrons. World leaders can sleep easy, though, despite the fact that desktop antimatter guns are now a thing that exist. Rather than bringing cities to their knees, the team of researchers behind the project want to use it to learn more about the strange physics of black holes, which emit bursts of positrons and electrons, albeit on a much grander scale than the University of Michigan antimatter gun.

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  5. International Space Station May Have Found Evidence of Dark Matter

    Physicists and astronomers have hypothesized the existence of dark matter for decades, but evidence for the substance (if we can call it that?) has been scant at best -- until now, that is. The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer experiment (aka AMS), that detector of cosmic rays mounted on the International Space Station, has identified millions of antimatter particles that may provide long-sought evidence for the existence of dark matter.

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  6. Mathematical Model of Wikipedia Edit Wars Dissects The World’s Greatest Nerd Fights

    Ok, I'm just going to say it -- the physicists at Aalto University may have a bit too much time on their hands, seeing as they've taken Wikipedia watching to a new extreme. Working with researchers from around Europe, they've created the first known mathematical model of editorial conflicts in Wikipedia, which tracks the birth, life and occasionally even the resolution of the Internet grudge matches that determine what is fact on the Internet's number one repository of facts.

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  7. Geologists Study Crater Formation by Making Craters With Dynamite — Let’s Watch!

    Geologists at the University of Buffalo are making us think we picked the wrong career today, publishing a study in the journal Physical Review Letters that explores the nature and formation of volcanic maar craters -- bowl-like craters that are formed by volcanic activity, but resemble the impact craters left behind by some meteorites. How, you may ask does one recreate a crater in the lab? The immensely satisfying answer is "in slow motion with a lot of dynamite." As you can see in the short video below which replicates the explosion and aftermath that go into forming one of these craters, we may have missed our calling.

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  8. Researchers Uncertain of Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle

    The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is one of the most well-known and dearly held tenets of modern quantum physics. It's one of those things about science you totally know, even if you don't know you know it. The principle states that on a quantum level, you can't directly measure anything without changing something about it. Thus, it is impossible to measure a particle's position without affecting its velocity, and vice versa. Still confused? Us to, but luckily this Futurama clip explains the matter brilliantly in the first 30 seconds or so. Go ahead, we'll wait. Back? Great. Now that you understand the uncertainty principle, it's time for the news about it. Thanks to new measurement techniques, physicists are no longer certain that the theory holds up.

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  9. New Wave Shape Observed for the First Time

    How water waves are formed, and what shapes they take is something that can easily be taken for granted. Waves are just waves, right? Actually, they aren't, because in addition to variations in size and velocity, waves can also differ in shape. New research into the shapes waves take has documented for the first time a completely different wave behavior called an odd standing wave.

    Researchers led by Jean Rajchenbach, Alphonse Leroux, and Didier Clamond of the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis in France discovered two new types of standing water waves, called Faraday waves. The two-dimensional even wave, is new for the type of experiment conducted, but is very similar to another phenomenon witnessed in nature. But, the researchers believe the odd standing wave is something completely new.

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