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November 21st 2017


Discovery marks first cosmic event observed in both gravitational waves and light

For the first time, scientists have directly detected gravitational waves — ripples in space and time — in addition to light from the spectacular collision of two neutron stars. This marks the first time that a cosmic event has been viewed in both gravitational waves and light. The discovery was made using the U.S.-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO); the Europe-based Virgo detector; and some 70 ground- and space-based observatories.

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'Bigger is different' – the unusual physics of mechanical metamaterials exposed

Mechanical metamaterials, which exhibit unusual properties such as shape morphing and programmability, have been found to display further surprising features. When the materials are a step in size larger, new rules seem to apply. This was discovered by AMOLF researchers and collaborators from Leiden University and the University of Amsterdam. Their findings are published in Nature Physics on 25 September.

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From galaxies far far away!

In a paper to be published in Science on 22 September, the Pierre Auger Collaboration reports observational evidence demonstrating that cosmic rays with energies a million times greater than that of the protons accelerated in the Large Hadron Collider come from much further away than from our own Galaxy.

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TU Delft and University of Vienna measure quantization of vibrations

Vibrations, such as those of a bridge, a guitar string or a tuning fork, behave like waves, swinging back and forth continuously. Yet, quantum mechanics predicts that this motion in fact consists of tiny discrete packages of energy, called phonons. A team of researchers at the TU Delft and the University of Vienna now demonstrate a new level of quantum control over these vibrations using laser pulses. They create individual phonon excitations and confirm their fundamental particle aspect, adapting a well-known test from quantum optics. They report on their results on Thursday 21 September, in the online edition of Science.

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Innovative physics research receives over 2 million euros

The board of NWO's Domain Science (ENW) has granted funding for five proposals in the NWO Physics Projectruimte, a granting instrument for small-scale projects that propose innovative fundamental physics research that has a scientific, industrial or social urgency.

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Julia Cramer wins the NWO Minerva Prize for 2017

Julia Cramer is the winner of NWO's Minerva Prize for 2017. Cramer will receive the prize for her research in the field of quantum science and technology. Once every two years, the NWO Domain Science (ENW) awards the Minerva Prize for the best physics publication by a female researcher. The committee was very impressed by the quality of an article that appeared in Nature Communications in 2016, of which Cramer was the lead author. In that article, she and her co-authors showed that it is possible to protect certain quantum states against errors. Cramer will be awarded the prize during the annual Physics@Veldhoven conference in January.

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'Nano-hashtags' could provide definite proof of Majorana particles

In Nature today an international team of researchers from TU Eindhoven, QuTech, TU Delft and the University of California – Santa Barbara presents an advanced quantum chip that will be able to provide definitive proof of the mysterious Majorana particles. These particles, first demonstrated in 2012, are their own antiparticle at one and the same time. The chip, which comprises ultrathin networks of nanowires in the shape of 'hashtags', has all the qualities to allow Majorana particles to exchange places. This feature is regarded as the smoking gun for proving their existence and is a crucial step towards their use as a building block for future quantum computers. 

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