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Quantum simulators for gauge theories

To simulate in a laboratory what happens in particle accelerators has been an ambitious goal in the study of the fundamental forces of nature pursued by high-energy physicists for many years. Now, thanks to research conducted by the groups of statistical physics of SISSA—Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati and the “Abdus Salam” International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), that goal is closer to reach.

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Towards visible-wavelength passively mode-locked lasers in all-fibre format

Mode-locked fibre lasers generating ultrashort pulses with the advantages of robustness, compactness and excellent beam quality are of tremendous interest in applications such as laser material processing, medicine, precision measurement, biological photonics, ultrafast spectroscopy, optical communication and scientific research. In recent decades, mode-locked ultrafast fibre lasers operating in the near-infrared and mid-infrared spectral regions have been well developed, but ultrafast laser sources in the visible spectral region (380-760 nm) still heavily rely on Ti:sapphire mode-locked oscillator and optical parametric amplification systems (or frequency doubling of near-infrared ultrafast lasers), suffering from a large footprint and an extremely high cost. Researchers desire an alternative ultrafast visible laser solution that is compact, low cost, user friendly and maintenance free. Passive mode locking in all-fibre format could satisfy all these demands, and therefore, there is strong research motivation to develop passively mode-locked fibre lasers in the visible region.

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Scientists solve half-century-old magnesium dimer mystery

Magnesium dimer (Mg2) is a fragile molecule consisting of two weakly interacting atoms held together by the laws of quantum mechanics. It has recently emerged as a potential probe for understanding fundamental phenomena at the intersection of chemistry and ultracold physics, but its use has been thwarted by a half-century-old enigma—five high-lying vibrational states that hold the key to understanding how the magnesium atoms interact but have eluded detection for 50 years.

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Experts warn unstable mountain slope in Alaska poses landslide and tsunami risk

A group of 14 scientists (11 from the U.S., two from Canada and one from Germany) has posted a letter on the DocumentCloud server warning of the imminent danger posed by an Alaskan mountain slope that has become unstable. It lies beyond the leading edge of the Barry Glacier. The glacier has been retreating for several years, possibly due to global warming. If a landslide occurs, the researchers warn, millions of tons of material will slide into Harriman Fjord, resulting in a very large tsunami.

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Medicinal plants thrive in biodiversity hotspots

With their rich repertoire of anti-infective substances, medicinal plants have always been key in the human fight to survive pathogens and parasites. The search for herbal drugs with novel structures and effects is still one of the great challenges of natural product research today. Scientists from Leipzig University (UL), the Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry (IPB) and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) now report a way to simplify the search for bioactive natural compounds using data analyses on the phylogenetic relationships, spatial distribution and secondary metabolites of plants. Their new approach makes it possible to predict which groups of plants and which geographical areas are likely to have a particularly high density of species with medicinal effects. This could pave the way for a more targeted search for new medicinal plants in the future.

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Potentially fatal combinations of humidity and heat are emerging across the globe

Most everyone knows that humid heat is harder to handle than the “dry” kind. And recently, some scientists have projected that later in the century, in parts of the tropics and subtropics, warming climate could cause combined heat and humidity to reach levels rarely if ever experienced before by humans. Such conditions would ravage economies, and possibly even surpass the physiological limits of human survival.

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Gemini gets lucky and takes a deep dive into Jupiter’s clouds

Researchers using a technique known as “lucky imaging” with the Gemini North telescope on Hawaii’s Maunakea have collected some of the highest resolution images of Jupiter ever obtained from the ground. These images are part of a multi-year joint observing program with the Hubble Space Telescope in support of NASA’s Juno mission. The Gemini images, when combined with the Hubble and Juno observations, reveal that lightning strikes, and some of the largest storm systems that create them, are formed in and around large convective cells over deep clouds of water ice and liquid. The new observations also confirm that dark spots in the famous Great Red Spot are actually gaps in the cloud cover and not due to cloud color variations.

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Arctic Edmontosaurus lives again: A new look at the ‘caribou of the Cretaceous’

A new study by an international team from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas and Hokkaido University and Okayama University of Science in Japan further explores the proliferation of the most commonly occurring duck-billed dinosaur of the ancient Arctic as the genus Edmontosaurus. The findings also reinforce that the hadrosaurs—known as the “caribou of the Cretaceous”—had a huge geographical distribution of approximately 60 degrees of latitude, spanning the North American West from Alaska to Colorado.

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