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In 1864 James Clerk Maxwell published his essay, A dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field[1], which contained what are now known as Maxwell’s equations: the four basic equations of the electromagnetic field[2]. In doing so he bought to a satisfactory pause an intense period of experiment and theorizing on the nature of electricity and magnetism. […]

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Schrödinger’s cat: the quantum world not so absurd after all?

Posted August 2, 2013 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

Since Erwin Schrödinger’s famous 1935 cat thought experiment, physicists around the globe have tried to create large scale systems to test how the rules of quantum mechanics apply to everyday objects. Scientists have only managed to recreate quantum effects on much smaller scales, resulting in a nagging possibility that quantum mechanics, by itself, is not […]

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New light on dark matter: space station magnet attracts praise

Posted April 4, 2013 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter, University of Melbourne Nobel prizewinner Samuel Ting, early this morning (AEDT), announced the first results from the Alpha Magnetic Spectrophotometer (AMS) search for dark matter. The findings, published in Physical Review Letters, provide the most compelling direct evidence to date for the existence of this mysterious matter. In short, the AMS results […]

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NASA discovers a new radiation belt around Earth

Posted March 2, 2013 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter, University of Melbourne NASA revealed Friday morning (AEST) that its Van Allen Probes have discovered a third, previously unknown, radiation belt around Earth. The belt appears to be transient, depending strongly on solar activity. The Probes mission is part of NASA’s Living With a Star geospace program to explore the fundamental processes […]

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The (nuclear) alchemists of Darmstadt and the doubly magic tin-100 nucleus

Posted September 19, 2012 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

An international group of researchers announced in the journal Nature that they had succeeded in creating tin-100.   This experiment helps us understand how heavy elements have formed.  A few minutes after the Big Bang the universe contained no other elements than the lightest; hydrogen and helium. We, the objects around us, the Earth and the […]

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NASA landing Curiosity, science, and technology on Mars

Posted August 11, 2012 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

Go to NASA TV or Ustream, now.  Otherwise you may be missing your ‘Apollo’ moment .  In about an hour’s time the NASA control room in Pasadena will be strained, hushed, waiting to hear these joyful words, “touchdown signal detected.” The signal that the rover, Curiosity, has has landed safely on Mars. After a picture […]

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The NASA rover Curiosity is expected to be landing on Mars at 3:31 am August 6, 2012 (AEST).  It’s mission, lasting one Martian-year (98 Earth weeks),  is of scientific significance and perhaps even of human significance.  Curiosity will be fulfilling the prospecting stage of a step-by-step program of exploration, reconnaissance, prospecting and mining evidence for […]

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The Earth just aged a little bit more

Posted April 12, 2012 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter
This composite image of the Tycho supernova remnant combines X-ray and infrared observations obtained with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and Spitzer Space Telescope, respectively, and the Calar Alto observatory, Spain. It shows the scene more than four centuries after the brilliant star explosion witnessed by Tycho Brahe and other astronomers of that era.  Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO, Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech; Optical: MPIA, Calar Alto, O.Krause et al.

Have you ever had a moment when person responds to you in a way that just makes you feel a little bit older than you did before?  You comment, for example, about a music group to someone, only to be met with that incredulous stare that conveys the message to you that their parents liked […]

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How much does antimatter weigh?

Posted March 19, 2012 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

A pulse of particles speeds into the vacuum chamber.  Positrons, 20,000,000 antimatter particles, clumped in a pulse one nanosecond deep.  Like a silent, angry swarm they are targeted into a porous silica target.  The positrons are confined by a magnetic field, increasing their interaction with the silica.  Some attract electrons and synthesize into positronium, a […]

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Hubble finds a dark matter puzzle

Posted March 9, 2012 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

Astronomers using data from NASA’s Hubble Telescope have observed what appears to be a clump of dark matter left behind from a wreck between massive clusters of galaxies. The result could challenge current theories about dark matter that predict galaxies should be anchored to the invisible substance even during the shock of a collision. Abell […]

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Earth’s exoplanet ‘siblings’ can be different

Posted February 25, 2012 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

The finding of numerous exoplants, planets outside of our own solar system or extra-solar planets, have made astrophysics once again a hot topic.  A week does not seem to go by without a new discovery of an exoplanet by NASA’s Hubble telescope.  At the same time intense activity is taking place to understand the nature […]

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Nano-scale materials make cooler, more efficient infrared detectors

Posted February 16, 2012 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

Researchers have shown how infrared photodetection can be done more effectively by using certain materials arranged in specific patterns in atomic-scale structures. This significant advance was accomplished by using multiple ultrathin layers of the materials that are only several nanometers thick. Each layer is deposited by a technique called molecular beam epitaxy.  The successive layers […]

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Chandrayaan-1, India’s lunar water finder, close to a Moon ending

Posted February 5, 2012 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

India an emerging force in space exploration Sometime in later this year it is expected that India’s first lunar spacecraft is set to crash into the Moon.  Currently the 675kg spacecraft is silently orbiting the Moon.  Silently as since August 29 2009 radio contact has been lost with the craft. Now, every 2 hours or […]

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The art and science of being ‘unseen’ The art or ability to become invisible is a staple in myth, folklore and modern story.  My personal modern favorites are ‘the Ring’ in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, the invisibility cloak in Rowling’s Harry Potter series, the ‘experiment gone wrong’ in H G Well’s The Invisible Man, […]

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Curiosity about life on Mars

Posted December 11, 2011 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

On July 20, 1969 Neil Armstrong uttered one of the most remembered quotes of the 20th century, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind….” Millions of people heard these words as they watched, via grainy black and white television images, Neil Armstrong step from the landing pad of the Lunar Module […]

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Quantum Man: Richard Feynman

Posted November 20, 2011 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

Quantum Man: Richard Feynman’s life in science, by Lawrence M Krauss. W. W. Norton, London (2011), ISBN 978-0-393-06471-1. This book is remarkable for three reasons.  The first is the brilliance, character and originality of the physicist and Nobel laureate Richard Feynman.  Second is the true star of the book; the incredible contribution made by Feynman […]

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A philosopher, a physicist and a time-traveller walk into a bar

Posted July 31, 2011 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

The conference “XIIIth Galifreyan conference on a cross-disciplinary approach to Time and Space” had reached an afternoon poster session and three of the participants entered a welcoming bar adjacent to the conference centre. Leibniz: “Ahhh much better, that cafe was way to noisy.  Couldn’t hear myself think, not alone hold a meaningful conversation.” Clarke:  “Very […]

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