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February 16th 2018


Exotic pulsar unveils a hidden pulsar population

The pulsar in question, PSR J1846-0258, is just 700 years old and has two faces. It is usually a rotation-powered pulsar, a 'stationary rotating' power magnet. But in May 2006, it suddenly exhibited a violent explosion that usually only occurs in the case of magnetars, pulsars with an extremely high magnetic field. Unlike most pulsars, the exotic pulsar is not observable via radio waves, but instead via X-rays and soft gamma radiation with which 'radio-quiet' pulsars usually give themselves away. Pulsars are very rapidly rotating neutron stars, which occur when heavy stars, of more than eight solar masses, reach the end of their lives and explode. The electromagnetic radiation that is subsequently released during radiation processes in the magnetosphere of the pulsar reaches us in the form of radio waves (electromagnetic radiation of long wavelength), and also for a significant part…

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Signing for gender equality in European physics research

To remove barriers to the recruitment and career progression of female physicists, the directors of four NWO physics institutes AMOLF, ARCNL, DIFFER and Nikhef will sign Gender Equality Plans (GEP) to promote female physicists careers. The official ceremony takes place on Monday night 22 January 2018 at the start of Physics@Veldhoven in front of the physics community. It kicks-off a systematic approach to accelerate the improvement of gender balance in the national physics community leading to structural change in the research institutes.

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Implementing regulations NWO-D, NWO-I, CWI and NIOZ harmonised

Following an intensive negotiation process, agreement has been reached with the NWO Central Works Council (in which the CWI Works Council was also represented) and the NIOZ Works Council about one new set of implementing regulations for the entire NWO. The new implementing regulations will come into force on 1 January and have a term of two years. Please find the most important points in the new implementing regulations below. Please find the PDF of the implementing regulations here.

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Looking back at a successful NWO-I Young Scientists' Day 2017: 'Life is more than a thesis'

Despite the storm, eighty PhDs and postdocs from NWO-I came to CASA 400 in Amsterdam on Thursday 7 November. There they took part in the fifth edition of the biannual Young Scientists’ Day of NWO-I, a day full of workshops aimed at developing physicists' soft skills. With this day, NWO-I, the Institutes organisation of NWO, wants to encourage PhDs and postdocs to actively explore their future possibilities.

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Personality and mood swings in bacteria

Bacteria can control where they go using a signaling network of protein molecules. Scientists at AMOLF have developed a microscopy method that allows them to see how individual bacteria use this network to make decisions. They discovered that bacteria are surprisingly diverse in personality and mood.
The team publishes its findings in the scientific journal eLife on 12 December.

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Three top women scientists receive an appointment at an NWO institute

NWO tries to offer all talented researchers the opportunity to excel. To improve the gender balance among its own research personnel, NWO decided in 2015 to establish a tenure-track programme for female researchers at NWO institutes, Women In Science Excel (WISE). This programme seeks to recruit and facilitate the promotion of female talent, by offering them the possibility to develop an own research group or to continue such a research group at one of the NWO institutes. The WISE programme will provide 20 tenure-track positions over a total of five funding rounds. With a tenure-track appointment, researchers are given the opportunity to demonstrate within a certain period of time that they are good enough to be given a tenured appointment at a university or research institute. Last year NWO awarded the first - four - researchers a WISE grant. NWO…

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Ice skating on water, even when it is really cold

The outermost layer of ice behaves like liquid water, even at a temperature of –30°C. Physicists at AMOLF have irrefutably demonstrated this using a modern surface-sensitive measuring technique.  At lower temperatures, however, the layer of water becomes increasingly thin. The researchers report their findings on 27 November in the journal Angewandte Chemie.
The slipperiness of ice not only ensures that glaciers slide downhill, but also that we can skate on ice, whereas that is not possible on surfaces like concrete or glass.

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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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