Breakthroughs ranging from improved control of efforts to bring the fusion energy that powers the sun and stars to Earth to advanced modeling of the formation of heavenly bodies highlighted research at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) in 2020.
- Tuesday, Jan 12, 2021
- Thursday, Jan 7, 2021
There are many steps on the road to scientific advances, an axiom that is especially true for quantum technologies. Although progress over the past decade has put quantum computing firmly on the horizon, large scale, fault-tolerant quantum computing devices are currently just that – on the horizon.
- Monday, Dec 14, 2020
Electrons inhabit a strange and topsy-turvy world. These infinitesimally small particles have never ceased to amaze and mystify despite the more than a century that scientists have studied them.
- Thursday, Dec 10, 2020
The last million years of Earth history have been characterized by frequent “glacial-interglacial cycles,” large swings in climate that are linked to the growing and shrinking of massive, continent-spanning ice sheets. These cycles are triggered by subtle oscillations in Earth’s orbit and rotation, but the orbital oscillations are too subtle to explain the large changes in climate.
- Thursday, Dec 3, 2020
You might have observed plants competing for sunlight — the way they stretch upwards and outwards to block each other’s access to the sun’s rays — but out of sight, another type of competition is happening underground. In the same way that you might change the way you forage for free snacks in the break room when your colleagues are present, plants change their use of underground resources when they’re planted alongside other plants.
- Tuesday, Dec 1, 2020
While the mesmerizing blobs in a classic lava lamp may appear magical, the colorful shapes move in response to temperature-induced changes in density and surface tension. This process, known as liquid-liquid phase separation, is critical to many functions in living cells, and plays a part in making products like medicines and cosmetics.
- Tuesday, Dec 1, 2020
A hyper-sensitive instrument, deep underground in Italy, has finally succeeded at the nearly impossible task of detecting CNO neutrinos (tiny particles pointing to the presence of carbon, nitrogen and oxygen) from our sun’s core. These little-known particles reveal the last missing detail of the fusion cycle powering our sun and other stars.
- Monday, Nov 23, 2020
Forest-dwelling bacteria known for forming slimy swarms that prey on other microbes can also cooperate to construct mushroom-like survival shelters known as fruiting bodies when food is scarce. Now a team at Princeton University has discovered the physics behind how these rod-shaped bacteria, which align in patterns like those on fingerprint whorls and liquid crystal displays, build the layers of these fruiting bodies. The study was published online Nov. 23 in Nature Physics.
- Wednesday, Nov 18, 2020
Scientists have discovered a rare object called the Blue Ring Nebula, a ring of hydrogen gas with a star at its center. The properties of this system suggest it is the remnant of two stars meeting their ultimate demise: an inward orbital dance that resulted in the two stars merging. The result offers a new window into the fate of many tightly orbiting binary star systems.
- Tuesday, Nov 17, 2020
Considering how hard the human heart works, it’s not surprising that it needs a continuous supply of fuel to run efficiently over the human lifespan. What is surprising, however, is its fuel preference and the rate at which it consumes these fuels.