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

Concept: Standard Model


Wikipedia has quickly become one of the most frequently accessed encyclopedic references, despite the ease with which content can be changed and the potential for ‘edit wars’ surrounding controversial topics. Little is known about how this potential for controversy affects the accuracy and stability of information on scientific topics, especially those with associated political controversy. Here we present an analysis of the Wikipedia edit histories for seven scientific articles and show that topics we consider politically but not scientifically “controversial” (such as evolution and global warming) experience more frequent edits with more words changed per day than pages we consider “noncontroversial” (such as the standard model in physics or heliocentrism). For example, over the period we analyzed, the global warming page was edited on average (geometric mean ±SD) 1.9±2.7 times resulting in 110.9±10.3 words changed per day, while the standard model in physics was only edited 0.2±1.4 times resulting in 9.4±5.0 words changed per day. The high rate of change observed in these pages makes it difficult for experts to monitor accuracy and contribute time-consuming corrections, to the possible detriment of scientific accuracy. As our society turns to Wikipedia as a primary source of scientific information, it is vital we read it critically and with the understanding that the content is dynamic and vulnerable to vandalism and other shenanigans.

Concepts: Physics, Science, Arithmetic mean, Newspaper, Editing, Standard Model, Scientific literature, Wikipedia


Asymmetry in motor patterns is present in a wide variety of animals. Many lateralized behaviors seem to depend on brain asymmetry, as it is the case of different tasks associated to food handling by several bird and mammal species. Here, we analyzed asymmetry in handling behavior of pine cones by red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris). Red squirrels devote most of their daily activity to feeding, thus this species constitutes an appropriate model for studying asymmetry in food processing. We aimed to explore 1) the potential lateralization in handling of pine cones by squirrels, 2) the dominant pattern for this behavior (left- vs. right-handed), and 3) whether this pattern varies among populations and depending on the pine tree species available. Results revealed that red squirrels handle pine cones in an asymmetrical way, and that direction of asymmetry varies among populations and seems to be determined more by local influences rather than by the pine tree species.

Concepts: Mammal, Pinophyta, Standard Model, Pine, Conifer cone, Lateralization of brain function, Eastern Gray Squirrel, Tree squirrel


Photonic quantum information requires high-purity, easily accessible, and scalable single-photon sources. Here, we report an electrically driven single-photon source based on colloidal quantum dots. Our solution-processed devices consist of isolated CdSe/CdS core/shell quantum dots sparsely buried in an insulating layer that is sandwiched between electron-transport and hole-transport layers. The devices generate single photons with near-optimal antibunching at room temperature, i.e., with a second-order temporal correlation function at zero delay (g ((2))(0)) being <0.05 for the best devices without any spectral filtering or background correction. The optimal g ((2))(0) from single-dot electroluminescence breaks the lower g ((2))(0) limit of the corresponding single-dot photoluminescence. Such highly suppressed multi-photon-emission probability is attributed to both novel device design and carrier injection/recombination dynamics. The device structure prevents background electroluminescence while offering efficient single-dot electroluminescence. A quantitative model is developed to illustrate the carrier injection/recombination dynamics of single-dot electroluminescence.

Concepts: Photon, Energy, Quantum mechanics, Condensed matter physics, Quantum dot, Qubit, Standard Model, The Carrier


Dense active matter, from bacterial suspensions and microtubule bundles driven by motor proteins to cellular monolayers and synthetic Janus particles, is characterized by mesoscale turbulence, which is the emergence of chaotic flow structures. By immersing an ordered array of symmetric rotors in an active fluid, we introduce a microfluidic system that exploits spontaneous symmetry breaking in mesoscale turbulence to generate work. The lattice of rotors self-organizes into a spin state where neighboring discs continuously rotate in permanent alternating directions due to combined hydrodynamic and elastic effects. Our virtual prototype demonstrates a new research direction for the design of micromachines powered by the nematohydrodynamic properties of active turbulence.

Concepts: Fluid dynamics, Symmetry, Group, Fluid, Standard Model, Symmetry group, Spontaneous symmetry breaking, Higgs mechanism


After stars formed in the early Universe, their ultraviolet light is expected, eventually, to have penetrated the primordial hydrogen gas and altered the excitation state of its 21-centimetre hyperfine line. This alteration would cause the gas to absorb photons from the cosmic microwave background, producing a spectral distortion that should be observable today at radio frequencies of less than 200 megahertz. Here we report the detection of a flattened absorption profile in the sky-averaged radio spectrum, which is centred at a frequency of 78 megahertz and has a best-fitting full-width at half-maximum of 19 megahertz and an amplitude of 0.5 kelvin. The profile is largely consistent with expectations for the 21-centimetre signal induced by early stars; however, the best-fitting amplitude of the profile is more than a factor of two greater than the largest predictions. This discrepancy suggests that either the primordial gas was much colder than expected or the background radiation temperature was hotter than expected. Astrophysical phenomena (such as radiation from stars and stellar remnants) are unlikely to account for this discrepancy; of the proposed extensions to the standard model of cosmology and particle physics, only cooling of the gas as a result of interactions between dark matter and baryons seems to explain the observed amplitude. The low-frequency edge of the observed profile indicates that stars existed and had produced a background of Lyman-α photons by 180 million years after the Big Bang. The high-frequency edge indicates that the gas was heated to above the radiation temperature less than 100 million years later.

Concepts: Big Bang, Redshift, Cosmic microwave background radiation, Hydrogen, Universe, Physical cosmology, Standard Model, Quark


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 motion of electrons in the microcosm occurs on a time scale set by the atomic unit of time-24 attoseconds. Attosecond pulses at photon energies corresponding to the fundamental absorption edges of matter, which lie in the soft X-ray regime above 200 eV, permit the probing of electronic excitation, chemical state, and atomic structure. Here we demonstrate a soft X-ray pulse duration of 53 as and single pulse streaking reaching the carbon K-absorption edge (284 eV) by utilizing intense two-cycle driving pulses near 1.8-μm center wavelength. Such pulses permit studies of electron dynamics in live biological samples and next-generation electronic materials such as diamond.Isolated attosecond pulses are produced using high harmonic generation and sources of these pulses often suffer from low photon flux in soft X-ray regime. Here the authors demonstrate efficient generation and characterization of 53 as pulses with photon energy near the water window.

Concepts: Electron, Photon, Quantum mechanics, Light, Electromagnetic radiation, Atom, Standard Model, Elementary particle


Quantum point contacts are cornerstones of mesoscopic physics and central building blocks for quantum electronics. Although the Fermi wavelength in high-quality bulk graphene can be tuned up to hundreds of nanometres, the observation of quantum confinement of Dirac electrons in nanostructured graphene has proven surprisingly challenging. Here we show ballistic transport and quantized conductance of size-confined Dirac fermions in lithographically defined graphene constrictions. At high carrier densities, the observed conductance agrees excellently with the Landauer theory of ballistic transport without any adjustable parameter. Experimental data and simulations for the evolution of the conductance with magnetic field unambiguously confirm the identification of size quantization in the constriction. Close to the charge neutrality point, bias voltage spectroscopy reveals a renormalized Fermi velocity of ∼1.5 × 10(6) m s(-1) in our constrictions. Moreover, at low carrier density transport measurements allow probing the density of localized states at edges, thus offering a unique handle on edge physics in graphene devices.

Concepts: Electron, Quantum mechanics, Fundamental physics concepts, Spin, Particle physics, Quantum field theory, Standard Model, Paul Dirac


The fear-avoidance model describes how the belief that pain is a sign of damage leads to pain-related fear and avoidance. But other beliefs may also trigger the fear and avoidance responses described by the model. Experts have called for the next generation of fear avoidance research to explore what beliefs underlie pain-related fear and how they evolve. We have previously described damage beliefs and suffering/functional loss beliefs underlying high pain-related fear in a sample of individuals with chronic back pain. The aim of this study is to identify common and differential factors associated with the beliefs in this sample.

Concepts: Back pain, Belief, Das Model, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Next Generation, Chronic pain, Standard Model, Kanye West


The conservation laws, such as those of charge, energy and momentum, have a central role in physics. In some special cases, classical conservation laws are broken at the quantum level by quantum fluctuations, in which case the theory is said to have quantum anomalies. One of the most prominent examples is the chiral anomaly, which involves massless chiral fermions. These particles have their spin, or internal angular momentum, aligned either parallel or antiparallel with their linear momentum, labelled as left and right chirality, respectively. In three spatial dimensions, the chiral anomaly is the breakdown (as a result of externally applied parallel electric and magnetic fields) of the classical conservation law that dictates that the number of massless fermions of each chirality are separately conserved. The current that measures the difference between left- and right-handed particles is called the axial current and is not conserved at the quantum level. In addition, an underlying curved space-time provides a distinct contribution to a chiral imbalance, an effect known as the mixed axial-gravitational anomaly, but this anomaly has yet to be confirmed experimentally. However, the presence of a mixed gauge-gravitational anomaly has recently been tied to thermoelectrical transport in a magnetic field, even in flat space-time, suggesting that such types of mixed anomaly could be experimentally probed in condensed matter systems known as Weyl semimetals. Here, using a temperature gradient, we observe experimentally a positive magneto-thermoelectric conductance in the Weyl semimetal niobium phosphide (NbP) for collinear temperature gradients and magnetic fields that vanishes in the ultra-quantum limit, when only a single Landau level is occupied. This observation is consistent with the presence of a mixed axial-gravitational anomaly, providing clear evidence for a theoretical concept that has so far eluded experimental detection.

Concepts: Quantum mechanics, Fundamental physics concepts, Physics, Spin, Quantum field theory, Special relativity, Standard Model, Noether's theorem