Current Events in Physics (6 Highlights)

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Current Events in Physics (6 Highlights)

Physics is a scientific discipline concerned primarily with matter and energy. Though it is a branch of science, physics is also relevant to philosophical questions concerning our existence and the nature of the universe. Additionally, physics has been used to solve a variety of technological issues. For that reason, current events in physics lead to a number of incredible discoveries.

Physics is a very complex area of study. Nonetheless, it concentrates on some of the most basic principles of our existence. It is divided into quantum mechanics, relativity and classical physics. Classical physics refers to everyday velocities and sizes. Relativity relates to larger objects and high speeds. Finally, quantum mechanics concerns itself with extremely small sizes and distances. All three branches involve complicated, high-level mathematics.

Scientists and researchers are always making new discoveries in the field, and physics as an area of study is continually evolving. Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting current events in physics:

Current Events in Physics: Black Holes Can Evaporate? Apparently Yes

Black holes have long been a mystery. Even once they were discovered, a lot was still unknown about them. A prediction from renowned physicist Stephen Hawking led a growing number of questions about their ending. In other words, where do they go when they disappear? Is a black hole able to die in an instant, and if so, how? Hawking thought that black holes likely evaporated, much like rain on a hot day. Now, a study finds that prediction to be true. Experts are cautious, however, due to the oddity of the study itself. For the most part, the findings match Hawking’s prediction, but the test is only limited to a lab.

It’s impossible to run tests in actual space, but a lab is second best. Not to mention, physicists improve the settings and abilities of lab work each and every year. Still, it’s not ever going to be perfect and capital-T true. Not until more tests are run. Nevertheless, the experiment based in Hawking’s prediction postulates that black holes are not actually black. Rather, they are emitting small particles that create radiation. The radiation grows over time, and eventually overtakes the black hole. Where does it go? It evaporates, and now thanks to a recent study, we can see it actually happen.

The Matter of Black Hole Evaporation

The key to knowing more about black holes is finding out what exactly creates its unique matter. For the most part, the matter is unlike anything else seen in space. The study confirming Hawking’s theory of evaporation used sound waves to study the matter. When injected into a black hole, the waves create a cold, strange matter with an insane amount of energy. Black holes are so full of gravitational power that even light and sound cannot escape their pull. Because of the precise nature of the study, it’s not clear how this translates to other fields within physics. Current events in physics are more often like this, due to the specificity of each study. Scientists call the probing of black holes the key to learning more about space. It’s not a matter of if, just when.

The fact of the matter is that black holes are growing in popularity. Physics might not be a sexy science, but the concept of space intrigues even the most dense science fan. The more that black holes tell and teach us about space, the more mainstream this science will become.

Current Events in Physics: Breakdown of Diffusivity

Glass, as a substance, has baffled physics experts for decades. For most substances, their structure experiences significant changes when transitioning between a solid and liquid state. However, glass is very different. When glass is in its liquid state, its structure is hardly any different from its solid state. In essence, glass appears like a liquid that has lost its ability to flow. A recent study used this as its central point. The methods used to investigate this strange occurrence came from highly complex theories and equations, and the results showed that thermodynamical entropy plays a large part in glass transitions.

Naturally, glass is something that we see everywhere. Most homes, commercial buildings, electronic devices, and vehicles use glass as part of their basic structure. It has wide-ranging uses for people. However, many (including experts in physics) do not fully understand how glass works.

Kinetic Slowdown

A central problem that many scientists point to is “kinetic slowdown,” which is the process by which a liquid loses its ability to flow when it is cooling. The reason why a given substance undergoes such a slowdown while not experiencing any kind of structural change remains a mystery to researchers.

The unique approach taken in the study shows that the kinetic slowdown proportionally related to enthalpy and entropy. Researchers reached this conclusion using the topography of the free-energy landscape. However, the results were not entirely conclusive.

Even with an abundance of theories on this issue, there are a lot of gaps in our understanding of glass transitions. Researchers continue to try different methods, and this most recent study has shown some interesting findings, but there is still no clear link between kinetics and thermodynamics during glass transition.

Nonetheless, according to the scientists involved, their study helps to illuminate molecular classes and their study. More specifically, the crucial role of thermodynamics and entropy within molecules. The way they slow down during glass transition dictates their condition.

Current Events in Physics: Determining the Best Conditions for Ultrashort High Harmonics

A recent study on ellipticity of high harmonics led to interesting findings. These results could have a significant impact on the world of physics research. According to the authors of the study, high harmonics are fundamentally generated through laser fields. As they counter rotate, the frequencies raise and grow. It’s clear to look at these through ultraviolet light, but much is still unknown. The emissions from these harmonics are largely uncharacterized, even today. The old assumption was total polarity, but this leads to unclear, effective harmonic ellipticity.

In simulations, the scientists find that ultrashort fields and ultrafast ionization leads to a lot of clarity. The process shows a breakdown of symmetry in the interaction. This ends up contributing to deviations from natural perfections. Circular, fully polarized harmonics disappear at a single atom level, and then largely as well. The experiment is characterized by the polarization of the high harmonics, so direct access is key. As the interaction ellipses, the degree of polarization changes on an individual, subjective level. The study helps to understand these deviations, especially as they pertain to fully circular harmonics. These advanced studies show ultrafast results, which inform countless further studies.

The Results

The study is very technical and complex in nature. However, it essentially defines the optimal conditions for ultrashort high harmonics generation (HHG). In layman’s terms, high harmonics generation refers to a process in which an intense laser pulse illuminates a given substance. When the substance experiences illumination, it emits the same high harmonics as the laser pulse. However, in the past, measurements of these high harmonics have been difficult to observe. Thanks to this study, researchers have a better understanding of how to bring about ultrashort HHG.

Current Events in Physics: Electrical Conductivity of Nanowires

Another recent study seeks to find a method for controlling the electrical conductivity of nanowire composites. The authors look at this study in this easy to follow way. Quantitative models can predict electrical performance of networks made up of 1-D nanowire. Composite networks deform externally, such as bending and patterning based on computations. Monte-Carlo led the development of this study, and solutions enhance tolerance as we know it in regards to electricity. Sheet resistance tolerance is under the microscope in this study, and scientists think they have a clue as to what it might mean.

Several strategies employed in this study looked to improve further information. The robustness of sheet resistance in regards to the network were the focus overall. In the case of bending, durability within an electrical network coats 2-D sheets within every model. Numerical models helped to find alignments, as well as unidirectionality that bend towards the axis. This ends up introducing sheet resistance degradation. In terms of a narrow channel, conductivity is enhanced through aligned networks. The parallels in the channels reduce themselves and are validated through the conductivity. Networks made of two separate types of connections of different lengths. This leads to the enhancement of tolerance within conductivity. In the end, it is the guide to a useful design for networks to provide flexible, transparent, conduction.

Applications

Flexible, transparent conducting materials are an important component for a variety of modern electronic gadgets. These include pieces of equipment like wearable sensors, batteries, malleable displays, and solar cells, among others. ITO is especially popular due to its high electrical conductivity, however it is not as flexible as other materials. By conducting the above experiment, researchers were able to put the electrical conductivity, flexibility, and optical transmittance of various materials to the test. In the end, the researchers hope that this study will help manufacturers develop higher-quality products using flexible, transparent conducting materials.

Current Events in Physics: Thermal Transport Crossover From Crystalline to Partial-liquid State

In a study published in Nature Communications, a research time sought to report on the underlying mechanisms of the thermal transport and thermal conductivity of certain phase-change materials. These materials are vital for many kinds of batteries and thermoelectric converters. In the crystalline state, thermal conductivity shows two different kinds of behaviors. One of these behaviors trends below 800 K, and the other trends above 800 K . However, when they trend above 800 K, they generally do not go above 1000 K.

In the past, scientists spent a great deal of time and resources studying heat transfer in perfect crystals. These studies proved extremely important for many disciplines. It is particularly useful in the research of thermoelectrics, photonic materials, and thermal management. Thermal transport is partially crystalline and partially liquid state.

The researchers provide the following summary of their methods. Overall, the study is quantitatively looking to learn more about heat transportation. They do this by looking at the reactive force field within mechanisms that move heat. Molecular dynamics and their varying principals help to determine the way that heat behaves during transfer. The way that it handles various sorts of transport had not been looked at up to this point. The interactions end up showing that as temperature rises, heat’s state changes during transfer. The change goes from solid to crystalline/liquid states. It’s very different during various processes, and the discovery tells us a lot. Mostly, the negative temperature dependence leads to virile terms to decrease.

Current Events in Physics: The Fluid Mechanics of Bubbly Drinks

For most bubbly drinks, the explanation is simple: carbonation. Carbon dioxide dissolves in the water and then the water experiences pressure. This usually takes the form of a pressurized plastic bottle. The pressure releases at the moment a person unscrews the cap. When this pressure releases, the liquid expels the gas, causing the bubbles to rise to the surface. However, two researchers in the field of fluid mechanics explain the complexities of carbonation in bubbly drinks.

There is a lot going on in your bubbly drink in just the few seconds between opening the bottle and taking your first sip. So, the researchers take a look at a variety of factors to determine exactly what is going on during this fascinating process.

How bubbles behave in water is generally determined by two physicochemical laws. This law (commonly known as Henry’s Law) states that the concentration of a dissolved gas will be proportional to the partial pressure of the gas. The second law is called Fick’s Law of Molecular Diffusion. This law states that, when there is a concentration gradient, there is also a mass flux that is proportional to the gradient, but going in the opposite direction.

The Process

Researchers use an equation to determine the bubble size as it grows. Gas cavities tend to form on the glass walls and then attach to the crevices, enabling them to stabilize. Buoyancy drives the upward movement of bubbles, which increases proportionally with bubble volume and viscous drag. The radius of a bubble moving upwards in a liquid increases at a gradual rate.

While it all seems so simple on the surface, the physicochemical laws that allow for carbonated beverages to exist are quite complex. Beverage manufacturers are well-versed on the science, and actually use these laws and formulas to sell more drinks. For example, there is generally a certain level of carbonation that is ideal for our taste buds. As a result, beverage manufacturers bottle their drinks in such a way to create the optimum drinking experience!

Conclusion

With the increased application of physics in the health sector, education, energy, and the environment, the role of research in physics remains paramount for the continued betterment of society.

In today’s world, we can travel to far away places in comfort, carrying out business around the globe with little effort. We have physics to thank for this (and the scientists working hard to make new discoveries in the field). Physics has seen the entire world interconnected, especially through technological advancements.

Despite the role that physics has played in connecting people from around the globe, a lot of division still exists. This is especially true in developing countries. For instance, in developed countries, you may find a life expectancy of 80 years. This compares to a life expectancy of 40 years in the developing countries. Advancements in physics often lead to incredible medical discoveries, but often times, businesses and governments do not implement or distribute these findings to everyone.

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About the author Taylor Bauer
Taylor is a writer and SEO manager with a B.S. in Political Communication from Illinois State University. He also received his M.S. in Communications from Illinois State. His background comes from journalism, working at an NPR member station for 3 years before transitioning to blogging and search engine marketing. He lives in Illinois with his wife and two Toy Australian Sheppards.

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