Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Particle physics


The announcement of the discovery of a Higgs boson-like particle at CERN will be remembered as one of the milestones of the scientific endeavor of the 21(st) century. In this paper we present a study of information spreading processes on Twitter before, during and after the announcement of the discovery of a new particle with the features of the elusive Higgs boson on 4(th) July 2012. We report evidence for non-trivial spatio-temporal patterns in user activities at individual and global level, such as tweeting, re-tweeting and replying to existing tweets. We provide a possible explanation for the observed time-varying dynamics of user activities during the spreading of this scientific “rumor”. We model the information spreading in the corresponding network of individuals who posted a tweet related to the Higgs boson discovery. Finally, we show that we are able to reproduce the global behavior of about 500,000 individuals with remarkable accuracy.

Concepts: Spin, Particle physics, Standard Model, Elementary particle, Boson, Large Hadron Collider, Higgs boson, W and Z bosons


The prototypical photocatalyst TiO2 exists in different polymorphs, the most common forms are the anatase- and rutile-crystal structures. Generally, anatase is more active than rutile, but no consensus exists to explain this difference. Here we demonstrate that it is the bulk transport of excitons to the surface that contributes to the difference. Utilizing high -quality epitaxial TiO2 films of the two polymorphs we evaluate the photocatalytic activity as a function of TiO2-film thickness. For anatase the activity increases for films up to ~5 nm thick, while rutile films reach their maximum activity for ~2.5 nm films already. This shows that charge carriers excited deeper in the bulk contribute to surface reactions in anatase than in rutile. Furthermore, we measure surface orientation dependent activity on rutile single crystals. The pronounced orientation-dependent activity can also be correlated to anisotropic bulk charge carrier mobility, suggesting general importance of bulk charge diffusion for explaining photocatalytic anisotropies.

Concepts: Particle physics, Orientation, Titanium dioxide, Rutile, Young's modulus, Photocatalysis, Anatase, Charge carrier


How photoexcitations evolve into Coulomb-bound electron and hole pairs, called excitons, and unbound charge carriers is a key cross-cutting issue in photovoltaics and optoelectronics. Until now, the initial quantum dynamics following photoexcitation remains elusive in the hybrid perovskite system. Here we reveal excitonic Rydberg states with distinct formation pathways by observing the multiple resonant, internal quantum transitions using ultrafast terahertz quasi-particle transport. Nonequilibrium emergent states evolve with a complex co-existence of excitons, carriers and phonons, where a delayed buildup of excitons under on- and off-resonant pumping conditions allows us to distinguish between the loss of electronic coherence and hot state cooling processes. The nearly ∼1 ps dephasing time, efficient electron scattering with discrete terahertz phonons and intermediate binding energy of ∼13.5 meV in perovskites are distinct from conventional photovoltaic semiconductors. In addition to providing implications for coherent energy conversion, these are potentially relevant to the development of light-harvesting and electron-transport devices.

Concepts: Electron, Photon, Energy, Fundamental physics concepts, Particle physics, Condensed matter physics, Semiconductor, Atomic physics


Functionalised silica sub-micron particles are being investigated as a method of delivering antimicrobials and remineralisation agents into dentinal tubules. However, their methods of application are not optimised, resulting in shallow penetration and aggregation. The aim of this study is to investigate the impact of cavitation occurring around ultrasonic scalers for enhancing particle penetration into dentinal tubules.

Concepts: Particle physics, Particle


The Great Pyramid, or Khufu’s Pyramid, was built on the Giza plateau in Egypt during the fourth dynasty by the pharaoh Khufu (Cheops), who reigned from 2509 bc to 2483 bc. Despite being one of the oldest and largest monuments on Earth, there is no consensus about how it was built. To understand its internal structure better, we imaged the pyramid using muons, which are by-products of cosmic rays that are only partially absorbed by stone. The resulting cosmic-ray muon radiography allows us to visualize the known and any unknown voids in the pyramid in a non-invasive way. Here we report the discovery of a large void (with a cross-section similar to that of the Grand Gallery and a minimum length of 30 metres) situated above the Grand Gallery. This constitutes the first major inner structure found in the Great Pyramid since the nineteenth century. The void, named ScanPyramids' Big Void, was first observed with nuclear emulsion films installed in the Queen’s chamber, then confirmed with scintillator hodoscopes set up in the same chamber and finally re-confirmed with gas detectors outside the pyramid. This large void has therefore been detected with high confidence by three different muon detection technologies and three independent analyses. These results constitute a breakthrough for the understanding of the internal structure of Khufu’s Pyramid. Although there is currently no information about the intended purpose of this void, these findings show how modern particle physics can shed new light on the world’s archaeological heritage.

Concepts: Electron, Particle physics, Ancient Egypt, Neutrino, Subatomic particle, Great Pyramid of Giza, Khufu, Giza Necropolis


Determining the size distribution and composition of particles suspended in water can be challenging in heterogeneous multicomponent samples. Light scattering techniques can measure the distribution of particle sizes, but provide no basis for distinguishing different types of particles. Direct imaging techniques can categorize particles by shape, but offer few insights into their composition. Holographic characterization meets this need by directly measuring the size, refractive index, and three-dimensional position of individual particles in a suspension. The ability to measure an individual colloidal particle’s refractive index is a unique capability of holographic characterization. Holographic characterization is fast enough, moreover, to build up population distribution data in real time, and to track time variations in the concentrations of different dispersed populations of particles. We demonstrate these capabilities using a model system consisting of polystyrene microbeads co-dispersed with bacteria in an oil-in-water emulsion. We also demonstrate how the holographic fingerprint of different contaminants can contribute to identifying their source.

Concepts: Particle physics, Demography, Population, Water, Colloid, Liquid, Emulsion, Flocculation


Statistical science provides a wide range of concepts and methods for studying situations subject to unexplained variability. Such considerations enter fields ranging from particle physics and astrophysics to genetics, sociology and economics, and beyond; to associated areas of application such as engineering, agriculture, and medicine, in particular in clinical trials. Successful application hinges on absorption of statistical thinking into the subject matter and, hence, depends strongly on the field in question and on the individual investigators. It is the job of theoretical statisticians both to be alive to the challenges of specific applications and, at the same time, to develop methods and concepts that, with good fortune, will be broadly applicable.

Concepts: Psychology, Photon, Physics, Matter, Particle physics, Engineering, Theory, Standard Model


The spectrum of the hydrogen atom has played a central part in fundamental physics in the past 200 years. Historical examples of its significance include the wavelength measurements of absorption lines in the solar spectrum by Fraunhofer, the identification of transition lines by Balmer, Lyman et al., the empirical description of allowed wavelengths by Rydberg, the quantum model of Bohr, the capability of quantum electrodynamics to precisely predict transition frequencies, and modern measurements of the 1S-2S transition by Hänsch(1) to a precision of a few parts in 10(15). Recently, we have achieved the technological advances to allow us to focus on antihydrogen-the antimatter equivalent of hydrogen(2,3,4). The Standard Model predicts that there should have been equal amounts of matter and antimatter in the primordial Universe after the Big Bang, but today’s Universe is observed to consist almost entirely of ordinary matter. This motivates physicists to carefully study antimatter, to see if there is a small asymmetry in the laws of physics that govern the two types of matter. In particular, the CPT (charge conjugation, parity reversal, time reversal) Theorem, a cornerstone of the Standard Model, requires that hydrogen and antihydrogen have the same spectrum. Here we report the observation of the 1S-2S transition in magnetically trapped atoms of antihydrogen in the ALPHA-2 apparatus at CERN. We determine that the frequency of the transition, driven by two photons from a laser at 243 nm, is consistent with that expected for hydrogen in the same environment. This laser excitation of a quantum state of an atom of antimatter represents a highly precise measurement performed on an anti-atom. Our result is consistent with CPT invariance at a relative precision of ~2 × 10(-10).

Concepts: Electron, Photon, Quantum mechanics, Matter, Particle physics, Quantum field theory, Atom, Standard Model


The cosmic radio-frequency spectrum is expected to show a strong absorption signal corresponding to the 21-centimetre-wavelength transition of atomic hydrogen around redshift 20, which arises from Lyman-α radiation from some of the earliest stars. By observing this 21-centimetre signal-either its sky-averaged spectrum or maps of its fluctuations, obtained using radio interferometers-we can obtain information about cosmic dawn, the era when the first astrophysical sources of light were formed. The recent detection of the global 21-centimetre spectrum reveals a stronger absorption than the maximum predicted by existing models, at a confidence level of 3.8 standard deviations. Here we report that this absorption can be explained by the combination of radiation from the first stars and excess cooling of the cosmic gas induced by its interaction with dark matter. Our analysis indicates that the spatial fluctuations of the 21-centimetre signal at cosmic dawn could be an order of magnitude larger than previously expected and that the dark-matter particle is no heavier than several proton masses, well below the commonly predicted mass of weakly interacting massive particles. Our analysis also confirms that dark matter is highly non-relativistic and at least moderately cold, and primordial velocities predicted by models of warm dark matter are potentially detectable. These results indicate that 21-centimetre cosmology can be used as a dark-matter probe.

Concepts: Physics, Matter, Particle physics, General relativity, Atom, Mass, Universe, Dark matter


Space radiation is a great danger to electronics and astronauts onboard space vessels. The spectral flux of space electrons, protons and ions for example in the radiation belts is inherently broadband, but this is a feature hard to mimic with conventional radiation sources. Using laser-plasma-accelerators, we reproduced relativistic, broadband radiation belt flux in the laboratory, and used this man-made space radiation to test the radiation hardness of space electronics. Such close mimicking of space radiation in the lab builds on the inherent ability of laser-plasma-accelerators to directly produce broadband Maxwellian-type particle flux, akin to conditions in space. In combination with the established sources, utilisation of the growing number of ever more potent laser-plasma-accelerator facilities worldwide as complementary space radiation sources can help alleviate the shortage of available beamtime and may allow for development of advanced test procedures, paving the way towards higher reliability of space missions.

Concepts: Electron, Particle physics, Proton, Atom, Neutron, Background radiation, Van Allen radiation belt, Radiation hardening