Researchers have observed individual atoms interacting for the first time

Researchers have observed individual atoms interacting for the first time:

For the first time, researchers have managed to capture images of individual potassium atoms distributed on an optical lattice, providing them with a unique opportunity to see how they interact with one another.

While capturing these images is a feat in itself, the technique could help researchers to better understand the conditions needed for individual atoms to come together and form exotic states of matter like superfluids and superconductors.

“Learning from this atomic model, we can understand what’s really going on in these superconductors, and what one should do to make higher-temperature superconductors, approaching hopefully room temperature,” team member Martin Zwierlein from MIT said in a statement.

To capture the images, the team took potassium gas, and cooled it only a few nanokelvins – just above absolute zero. To put that into perspective, 1 nanokelvin is -273 degrees Celsius (-460 degrees Fahrenheit).

At this extremely cold temperature, the potassium atoms slow to a crawl, which allowed the team to trap some of them inside a two-dimensional optical lattice – a complex series of overlapping lasers that can trap individual atoms inside different intensity waves.

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Researchers prototype system for reading closed books

Researchers prototype system for reading closed books:

MIT researchers and their colleagues are designing an imaging system that can read closed books.

In the latest issue of Nature Communications, the researchers describe a prototype of the system, which they tested on a stack of papers, each with one letter printed on it. The system was able to correctly identify the letters on the top nine sheets.

“The Metropolitan Museum in New York showed a lot of interest in this, because they want to, for example, look into some antique books that they don’t even want to touch,” says Barmak Heshmat, a research scientist at the MIT Media Lab and corresponding author on the new paper. He adds that the system could be used to analyze any materials organized in thin layers, such as coatings on machine parts or pharmaceuticals.

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Scientists just figured out how to make Pokémon interact with the real world

Scientists just figured out how to make Pokémon interact with the real world:

For better or worse, Pokémon Go changed our lives, and now it’s hard to imagine life without those plucky virtual creatures sneaking up on you when you’re trying to pee.

But get ready for it, because researchers from MIT have kicked the augmented reality game up a notch by inventing a program that allows virtual objects like Pokémon to interact with real-world environments.

Yep, this means one day you could be snaring a Ponyta as it prances through a field (you monster) or wasting 20 Pokéballs on a Zubat that keeps messing up your curtains.

The technology, dubbed Interactive Dynamic Video not only allows animated characters move about the world – it allows them to realistically affect objects in the environment, like Pikachu rustling the leaves of a bush in the footage below.

“This technique lets us capture the physical behaviour of objects, which gives us a way to play with them in virtual space,” Abe Davis from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory told MIT News. “By making videos interactive, we can predict how objects will respond to unknown forces and explore new ways to engage with videos.”

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First atmospheric study of Earth-sized exoplanets reveals rocky worlds

First atmospheric study of Earth-sized exoplanets reveals rocky worlds:

On May 2, scientists from MIT, the University of Liège, and elsewhere announced they had discovered a planetary system, a mere 40 light years from Earth, that hosts three potentially habitable, Earth-sized worlds. Judging from the size and temperature of the planets, the researchers determined that regions of each planet may be suitable for life.

Now, in a paper published today in Nature, that same group reports that the two innermost planets in the system are primarily rocky, unlike gas giants such as Jupiter. The findings further strengthen the case that these planets may indeed be habitable. The researchers also determined that the atmospheres of both planets are likely not large and diffuse, like that of the Jupiter, but instead compact, similar to the atmospheres of Earth, Venus, and Mars.

The scientists, led by first author Julien de Wit, a postdoc in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, came to their conclusion after making a preliminary screening of the planets’ atmospheres, just days after announcing the discovery of the planetary system.

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Indonesian forces kill militants, suspect most-wanted man among them

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia’s most wanted man, an Islamic State supporter, may have been one of two militants killed in a gunbattle with security forces in eastern Indonesia on Tuesday, the government said on Friday. If confirmed, the death of… Read More ›
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Doubled sensitivity could allow gravitational wave detectors to reach deeper into space – Scienmag

Doubled sensitivity could allow gravitational wave detectors to reach deeper into space – Scienmag:

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Australian National University have developed new technology that aims to make the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) even more sensitive to faint ripples in space-time called gravitational waves.

Scientists at Advanced LIGO announced the first-ever observation of gravitational waves earlier this year, a century after Albert Einstein predicted their existence in his general theory of relativity. Studying gravitational waves can reveal important information about cataclysmic astrophysical events involving black holes and neutron stars.

In The Optical Society’s journal for high impact research, Optica, the researchers report on improvements to what is called a squeezed vacuum source. Although not part of the original Advanced LIGO design, injecting the new squeezed vacuum source into the LIGO detector could help double its sensitivity. This would allow detection of gravitational waves that are far weaker or that originate from farther away than is possible now.

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Nanomaterials could double efficiency of solar cells by converting waste heat into usable energy


MIT-Solar-Thermal-1_0 An experimental solar cell created by MIT researchers could massively increase the amount of power generated by a given area of panels, while simultaneously reducing the amount of waste heat. Even better, it sounds super cool when scientists talk about it: “with our own unoptimized geometry, we in fact could break the Shockley-Queisser limit.” Read More Syndicated from TechCrunch

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