LHC steps closer to discoveries on antimatter | Tech News on ZDNet

The first particle has been detected in a Large Hadron Collider experiment that hopes to shed light on the nature of interactions between matter and antimatter.

LHCb — an experiment set up to explore what happened in the moments immediately after the Big Bang — on Wednesday found a particle called a beauty or bottom quark. Cern scientists have a wishlist of particles they want to measure in the experiment, and the beauty quark is the first on the list that they have found.

The detection is a step on the road to the possible discovery of new particles or interactions between particles, said Cern physicist Christine Sutton. Beauty particles were first discovered in 1977.

via LHC steps closer to discoveries on antimatter | Tech News on ZDNet.

LHC to run for longest continuous period | Tech News on ZDNet

The Large Hadron Collider is about to enter its longest continuous operational period, in preparation for full-strength particle-smashing.

On Wednesday, Steve Myers, the LHC’s director for accelerators and technology, blogged that Cern had decided last week to run the giant particle collider for 18-24 months at a collision energy of seven tera-electron-volts (TeV) — or 3.5 TeV per beam — with the powering-up phase starting later this month.

After that, the LHC will “go into a long shutdown in which we’ll do all the necessary work to allow us to reach the LHC’s design collision energy of 14 TeV for the next run”, Myers wrote.

via LHC to run for longest continuous period | Tech News on ZDNet.

Carbon nanotube dye may put a capacitor in your shorts

How would you like it if your phone started charging whenever you dropped it into your pocket? That may eventually be possible, thanks to a carbon nanotube-based ink that can turn many common fabrics into conductors, or even components of a charge-storing supercapacitor. These won’t be showing up in a clothing store near you anytime soon, however, as ensuring that the fabrics only direct the charge to appropriate devices—and not, say, to a sensitive body part—will be a separate engineering challenge.

Textile fibers are actually uniquely suited to transforming into electronics when combined with the seemingly ubiquitous carbon nanotube. In the new paper, the carbon nanotubes were mixed with a surfactant to form an ink (black, of course). The fabrics were dipped into the ink and dried in an oven for ten minutes to remove the water, resulting in a carbon nanotube-laden fabric. The bonds between the fabric and nanotubes are extremely strong, and neither further washing nor attempting to strip the fabric with tape causes the nanotubes to separate from the cloth.

via Carbon nanotube dye may put a capacitor in your shorts.

Levitating magnet may yield new approach to clean energy

A new experiment that reproduces the magnetic fields of the Earth and other planets has yielded its first significant results. The findings confirm that its unique approach has some potential to be developed as a new way of creating a power-producing plant based on nuclear fusion — the process that generates the sun’s prodigious output of energy.

Fusion has been a cherished goal of physicists and energy researchers for more than 50 years. That’s because it offers the possibility of nearly endless supplies of energy with no carbon emissions and far less radioactive waste than that produced by today’s nuclear plants, which are based on fission, the splitting of atoms (the opposite of fusion, which involves fusing two atoms together). But developing a fusion reactor that produces a net output of energy has proved to be more challenging than initially thought.

The new results come from an experimental device on the MIT campus, inspired by observations from space made by satellites. Called the Levitated Dipole Experiment, or LDX, a joint project of MIT and Columbia University, it uses a half-ton donut-shaped magnet about the size and shape of a large truck tire, made of superconducting wire coiled inside a stainless steel vessel. This magnet is suspended by a powerful electromagnetic field, and is used to control the motion of the 10-million-degree-hot electrically charged gas, or plasma, contained within its 16-foot-diameter outer chamber.

The results, published this week in the journal Nature Physics, confirm the counter-intuitive prediction that inside the device’s magnetic chamber, random turbulence causes the plasma to become more densely concentrated — a crucial step to getting atoms to fuse together — instead of becoming more spread out, as usually happens with turbulence. This “turbulent pinching” of the plasma has been observed in the way plasmas in space interact with the Earth’s and Jupiter’s magnetic fields, but has never before been recreated in the laboratory.

via Levitating magnet may yield new approach to clean energy.

New Micro-Machine Harvests Energy from Vibrations : CleanTechnica

Highways, train stations, and even dance floors: the world is full of vibrating surfaces that could yield a rich trove of clean, sustainable energy. It’s called piezoelectric energy, formed by the conversion of mechanical strain into electrical current. Now a team of researchers in Europe has developed a micro-scaled piezoelectric device that could harvest energy from machinery as well as from infrastructure and buildings.

The tiny devices are ideal for use in powering remote sensing equipment, for example to monitor bridges or machines for early signs of deterioration. In that case they could play a key role in more energy efficient maintenance for wind turbines and other renewable energy infrastructure, while lowering human risk.

via New Micro-Machine Harvests Energy from Vibrations : CleanTechnica.

Glitter-size Photovoltaics could Revolutionize Solar Energy

Sandia National Laboratories scientists have developed tiny glitter-sized photovoltaic cells that could revolutionize the way solar energy is collected and used. The tiny cells could turn a person into a walking solar battery charger if they were fastened to flexible substrates molded around unusual shapes, such as clothing.

The solar particles, fabricated of crystalline silicon, hold the potential for a variety of new applications. They are expected eventually to be less expensive and have greater efficiencies than current photovoltaic collectors that are pieced together with six-inch-square solar wafers. The cells are fabricated using microelectronic and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) techniques common to today’s electronic foundries.

via Glitter-size Photovoltaics could Revolutionize Solar Energy.

Prehistoric Lakes of Antarctica Discovered with New, Unknown Viruses

Like a modern, micro version of The Thing, Antarctica’s icy lakes have been discovered to house a surprisingly diverse community of viruses, including some that were previously unidentified. The finding could shed light on whether microbial life evolved independently in Antarctica, which has been isolated for millions of years, or they were introduced there more recently.

via Prehistoric Lakes of Antarctica Discovered with New, Unknown Viruses.