Thursday, December 17, 2020

Brief items

Here are a few interesting links as we look toward the end of a long year:

  • Brian Skinner of Gravity and Levity has a long and excellent thread on twitter about cool materials.
  • Subir Sachdev at Harvard has put his entire semester's worth of lectures on youtube for his course on Quantum Phases of Matter
  • New data on stellar distances makes the Hubble constant problem even worse, as explained in this nice article by the reliably excellent Natalie Wolchover.
  • In case you were wondering, we are nowhere near done with magnetic tape as a storage medium, especially since it's comparatively cheap and can now hold 317 Gb/in2.
  • If you aren't impressed by SpaceX's initial flight test of their latest rocket, I don't know what to say to you.  They were trying several brand new things at the same time, and almost got it all to work on the first try.  FYI, the green exhaust at the end is from the engine running hot and fuel-deprived, so the oxygen is burning the copper alloy engine lining.
  • This paper uses nanomechanical resonators immersed in fluid to study Brownian motion.  The resonator is getting kicked randomly by collisions with the fluid molecules, and looking at the noise in the displacement is a neat probe of the fluid's dynamics.  
  • In this paper, the authors are able to resolve inelastic electron tunneling spectra even above room temperature.  That's actually very surprising!
  • Here is a perspective article about plasmonic catalysis, trying to drive chemical reactions by optical excitation of collective electronic modes in conductive nanostructures.  

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