NWT_Energy TECH_Technology TSC_Global Politics

Iran step-up its nuclear program builds new centrifuge factory

The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi, on Wednesday said it has built a factory that can produce rotors up to 60 centrifuges a day, as the country step up its plan in confrontation with the U.S. over it nuclear weapon programs.

The announcement came a month after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered agencies to prepare to increase uranium enrichment capacity if a nuclear deal with world powers falls apart after Washington’s withdrawal from the deal.

Under the terms of the 2015 agreement, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, but with Washington’s withdrawal, other signatories have to scramble to save the accord.

Iran has said it will wait to see what the other world powers can do, but has also signaled readiness to get its enrichment activities back on track. Iran has regularly emphasized that its nuclear work is just for electricity generation and other peaceful projects.

Akbar said the new factory did not in itself break the terms of the agreement.

“Instead of building this factory in the next seven or eight years, we built it during the negotiations but did not start it,” Salehi, said, according to state media.

“Of course, the [Supreme Leader] was completely informed and we gave him the necessary information at the time. And now that he has given the order this factory has started all of its work.”

NWT_Energy NWT_Environment Research SCI

Two-dimensional material could revolutionize solar fuel generation

A team of researchers just created a new two-dimensional material, single-layer material that could revolutionize solar fuel generation by changing nanotechnology and nonoengineering development.

“The material we synthesized can act as a photocatalyst to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, so that electricity can be generated from hydrogen, among several other potential applications,” said Douglas Soares Galvão, one of the study’s authors.

The team extracted the 2-D material, which is called hematene, from standard iron ore through the exfoliation of hematite—one of the Earth’s most common minerals and a primary source of iron in many products.

“Most of the 2-D materials synthesized to date were derived from samples of van der Waals solids,” Galvão said. “Non-van der Waals 2-D materials with highly ordered atomic layers and large grains are still rare.”

Materials that are non-van der Waals are tied together by 3-D bonding networks as opposed to the weaker atomic van der Waals interactions.

“Hematene may be an efficient photocatalyst, especially for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, and could also serve as an ultrathin magnetic material for spintronic-based devices,” he added.

Also known as magnetoelectronics, spintronics is a novel technology used to display, store, and process information based on changes caused by electron spin.

The team has also examined other materials for their potential to create additional 2-D materials with unique and useful properties.

“There are a number of other iron oxides and derivatives thereof that are candidates for originating new 2-D materials,” Galvão said.

The findings were published in Nature Nanotechnology.


Arsenal beat The US All Stars in a friendly

The US has slowly been building its soccer league over the years. The current MLS all-star team has some of the greatest footballers of recent times, including Andres Pirlo, the legendary KAKA, and Didier Drogba. Arsenal is on tour and had carried a blend of youth and experience.

The two teams looked quite balanced on paper and it felt like only something special would win the game. The MLS All-Star team had only lost to only one team from England, Manchester United and had beaten all the rest including Manchester City and Chelsea.

Pirlo started off at his creative best lofting passes from deep in the midfield with implacable precision. However, it took a steady hand from Peter Cech to stop the goal. The Arsenal youngsters were learning quickly from the Italian Midfield general and threaded their long range lofting passes.

The pass landed on Colombian international Joel Campbell, who was then brought down in the penalty box for a penalty. He quickly converted it and breathed new life into what was becoming an energy sipping transfer period for him being linked away from the club.

“I am going to put my head down and work for the team,” Campbell told reporters before the game. “I will fight for my place in the team. I think I was doing well in the games we played last season and I aim to build on this.”

Drogba equalized just before the stroke of half-time as Arsenal defender Debuchy made a defensive error to hand the Ivorian the chance. Arsenal only rescued the game in the 87th minute when a combination of their most talented youngsters stringed a series of passes before Akpom applied the finishing touch with a close range tap in.

NONE NWT_Energy TSC_Global Politics

Access to water cut off as battle for Mosul wages on

The battle for Mosul has cut off access to running water for thousands of citizens.

The city of Mosul has been under ISIS control for over two years and is now being retaken by the federal government of Iraq. Islamic State soldiers have been surrounded in their battle against Popular Mobilization militia, Sunni Arab tribes, and the Iraqi federal government for the ISIS stronghold city. Earlier in the month, Popular Mobilization Shi’ite militia announced that they had overtaken the last western route out of Mosul, essentially trapping ISIS soldiers inside.

It is now being reported by the United Nations and CNN that over half a million people in the Iraqi city are now without access to running water. According to the United Nations, one of the three main water pipelines in Mosul was struck as Iraqi federal troops battled with Islamic State soldiers in the eastern half of the city. The affected pipeline is in a portion of the city still inhabited by ISIS fighters and so cannot be accessed to be repaired according to UNICEF.

According to witnesses inside of Mosul, the story that a pipeline break has occurred is not the worst news in the city. There are now allegations that ISIS has also played a part in the water shortage. According to many, Islamic State soldiers are intentionally cutting off water supplies to multiple neighborhoods that are close to conflict zones. News about the ISIS affected water shortage came from Mosul City Council official, Zuhair Hazem al-Jabouri, who monitors and supervises the water and energy services for the city.

NWT_Energy PHYS Physics

Last reservoir of ordinary matter discovered

A team of international scientists have found the last batch of ordinary matter hiding out in the universe, a new study in the journal Nature reports.

Ordinary matter — also known as “baryons” — makes up all physical objects in existence. However, though astronomers have long know that, they have only been able to track down roughly two-thirds of the amount physicists predicted was created by the Big Bang.

For the new research, scientists discovered the last missing third in the space between galaxies. Research shows it exists as filaments of oxygen gas that sit at temperatures of roughly 1,800,000 degrees Fahrenheit. 

This discovery is extremely important for the field of astrophysics because it could create a much better picture of how the universe first came about.

“This is one of the key pillars of testing the Big Bang theory: figuring out the baryon census of hydrogen and helium and everything else in the periodic table,” said study co-author Michael Shull, a researcher at the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences (APS), according to Science Daily.

Roughly 10 percent of ordinary matter sits in galaxies and 60 percent is in diffuse clouds that hang between galaxies.

Back in 2012 researchers predicted the missing 30 percent sat in a web-like pattern known as the warm-hot intergalactic medium (WHIM).

To test that theory, the team in the new study pointed satellites at a quasar known as 1ES 1553. Such bodies are black holes that sit at the center of their galaxy. Analyzing them is important because, by seeing how quasar radiation moves through space scientists can track missing baryons.

Using such information from 1ES 1553, the team discovered signatures of a type of highly-ionized oxygen gas lying between the quasar and our solar system.

That accounts for the missing matter, which then helps build a much more complete picture of the universe. Both for how it came about and the way it go to its current state.

“[T]he missing baryons have been found,” wrote the team, according to Gizmodo.

NWT_Energy PHYS Physics

Time travel might be possible after all

As strange as it might sound, scientists from Ohio State University believe that time travel may one day be possible. Not only that, but they believe we might be much closer than many think.

Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity states that time changes based on how fast someone moves through it. That idea is at the core of the new theory.

“The faster you move through space, the slower you move through time,” said Paul Sutter, an astrophysicist at Ohio State University, according to Tech Times.

Scientists previously found that astronauts living on the International Space Station move faster through time than people on Earth. As a result, they age slower than normal humans. In fact, cosmonaut Gennady Padalka — who spent 879 days in space — found that when he returned to Earth it was 1/44 of a second into the future.

In that way, he was a tiny bit in the past.

Using that principle, researchers believe the Large Hadron Collider is an example of a time machine. The giant device shoots protons at the speed of light, which makes their relative speed through time roughly 6,900 times slower compared to human observers.

That discrepancy is interesting because it is the closest science has ever come to time travel. It may only be a fraction of a second difference, but it is a start. The goal is one day to send humans through time, but that is still an extremely long way off.

The above examples show that it could one day be possible. However, scientists are not sure quite how it could be possible. There are many gaps between where science is and Einstein’s theories, but researchers hope more research will slowly close such voids in knowledge.

“When it comes to the past the mathematics of general relativity does allow a few strange scenarios where you can end up in your own past,” added Sutter, according to “But all of these scenarios end up violating other known physics, like requiring negative mass or infinitely long rotating cylinders. Why does general relativity allow past time travel, but other physics always jump in to spoil the fun? We honestly don’t know.”

NWT_Energy PHYS Physics Science

Hydrogen may turn metal within planet interiors, study reports

A team of international physicists have used lab-based mimicry to prove hydrogen can turn into liquid metal when put into conditions commonly found inside the interiors of giant planets, a new study published in the journal Science reports.

Hydrogen is the simplest and most abundant element in the universe. However, despite that, scientists know relatively little about it. There are many mysteries surrounding the substance, and one of the biggest is how it behaves on other worlds.

For instance, while the element is a gas on the surface of large planets like Jupiter and Saturn, research suggests it becomes a metal when inside those world’s interiors.

“This transformation has been a longstanding focus of attention in physics and planetary science,” said lead author Peter Celliers, a researcher at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, according to

In the study, the team focused on the gas-to-metallic-liquid transition in the molecular hydrogen isotope deuterium. They looked at how deuterium reflects light and then analyzed the way those properties changed at both six million times normal atmospheric pressure and at temperatures lower than 3,140 degrees Fahrenheit.

The reason the team focused specifically on reflectivity is because it can often show if something is metal.

Analysis revealed that under roughly 1.5 times normal atmospheric pressure (150 gigapascals) the deuterium switched from transparent to opaque, which means it absorbed light instead of allowing it to pass through. It then moved to a metal-like reflectivity started at nearly 2 million times normal atmospheric pressure (200 gigapascals).

That transition is important because it could help scientists get a much better picture of, not just other planets, but the physical properties of the universe as a whole.

“To build better models of potential exoplanetary architecture, this transition between gas and metallic liquid hydrogen must be demonstrated and understood,” explained study co-author Alexander Goncharov, a researcher at the Carnegie Institution of Washington. “Which is why we focused on pinpointing the onset of reflectivity in compressed deuterium, moving us closer to a complete vision of this important process.”

NWT_Energy PHYS Physics Science

Researchers at CERN are on a subatomic hunt to detect rare particle decay

An experiment at CERN in Geneva, called NA62, is designed to let scientists watch a rare kind of particle decay, writes Ryan F. Mandelbaum for Gizmodo. Most particles, with the exception of the ones out of which we ourselves are made, and a couple of others—fall apart (decay) into other particles in a tiny fraction of a second. (Some of these particles survive only a trillionth of a trillionth of a second, or even less!)

The physicists working on the NA62 experiment are searching for subatomic particles that may reveal new laws of physics. Using a new detection method, the team may have finally spotted what they’re looking for. They are hunting for quarks, the building blocks of other subatomic particles. There are six kinds: the common up and down quark, the strange and charm quarks, and the rarest top and bottom quarks.

Protons and neutrons contain only up and down quarks. The experiment’s goal is to manufacture as many kaon particles, as possible. Kaons contain an up quark, along with the antiparticle of the strange quark. NA62 produces kaons by hitting a target with a beam of high-energy protons from an adjacent particle accelerator. The team passes the beam through a detector and makes measurements while the particles are traveling.

An incredibly rare, on-in-10 billion result, is that it splits into a neutrino, an antineutrino, and a “pi-on.” The team presented their first candidate at a seminar held by CERN. They spotted a potential instance of this particular kaon decay.

“They’re not at a point of scientific significance yet, but they’ve demonstrated that their technique works,” Bob Tschirart, chief project officer of the Fermi National Lab, said. He pointed out that NA62 has the potential to observe as many as 100 events. Given the one-in-ten billion odds, that could bring the uncertainty in the measurement down by a lot.


Physicists develop higher energy capacities in batteries

Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Department of Physics have developed a controllable, electrochemical system that can store large amounts of energy in the space between atomically thin sheets of layered two-dimensional materials.

According to a research article published in Nature, Kwabena Bediako, a former postdoctoral fellow at SEAS, states, “We observed that by stacking sheets of different, atomically thin materials, we could engineer higher electrochemical capacities, improving the accumulation of charge in the hybrid material by more than tenfold.”

The researchers exploited a physical effect known as van der Waals forces, which are weak bonds between molecules based on the total number of atoms and proximity rather than direct chemical interactions.

By bonding materials with van der Waals forces, the researchers found that they could combine any two layered materials to create a new electrochemical environment in the “empty” space between the two layers.

The researchers stacked layers of boron nitride, graphene and molybdenum dichalcogenide (MoX2) and injected lithium ions between the layers. The graphene provided a low-resistance electronic pathway, which in turn enabled the layer of MoX2 to hold onto lithium ions more efficiently.

“Beyond energy storage, this method for manipulating and characterizing the electrochemical behavior of layered systems opens new pathways to control a large charge density in 2-D electronic and optoelectronic devices,” said Philip Kim, professor of physics and of applied physics at SEAS and senior author of the paper.

In conclusion, the research provides evidence that the more lithium ions a developer can squeeze into a space, the higher the capacity of the battery. The more readily the ions come out, the higher the voltage.

NWT_Energy Science

CT scans of tyrannosaur skull hold clues to predator’s evolution

Researchers from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science wanted to look inside a very large fossil skull belonging to a 74-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex forebear. So, they went to Los Alamos National Laboratory for help, and got it.

Using Los Alamos’ “unique neutron-imaging and high-energy X-ray capabilities,” the team, which included staff from the museum, Los Alamos, and the University of Edinburgh, was able to peer inside the thick skull and see its inner structures, a statement by Los Alamos said. And what they found sheds light on how these enormous, fearsome predators evolved over time.

The skull belonged to a dinosaur nicknamed the Bisti Beast, but whose scientific name is Bistahieversor sealeyi, which translates to Sealey’s Badlands Destroyer.

Because Bisti’s skull was so thick, only the laboratory’s microtron electron accelerator produced X-rays with sufficient high energy to see inside it.

“Normally, we look at a variety of thick, dense objects at Los Alamos for defense programs, but the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science was interested in imaging a very large fossil to learn about what’s inside,” said Ron Nelson of Los Alamos’ Physics Division, in the statement. “It turns out that high energy neutrons are an interesting and unique way to image something of this size.”

The computed tomography (CT) imaging revealed many anatomical structures, including the skull’s sinus and brain cavities, pathways to nerves and blood vessels, and some teeth that had not yet erupted.

“The CT scans help us figure out how the different species within the T. rex family related to each other and how they evolved,” said Thomas Williamson, Curator of Paleontology at the New Mexico museum. “The Bistahieversor represents the most basal tyrannosaur to have the big-headed, bone-crushing adaptations and almost certainly the small forelimbs. … Bistahieversor lived almost 10 million years before T. rex, but it also was a surviving member of a lineage that retained many of the primitive features from even farther back closer to when tyrannosaurs underwent their transition to bone-crushing.”

The team expects to present its results at the annual Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in Canada later this month.