ananyo writes: Majorana fermions, mysterious quantum-mechanical particles that may have applications in quantum computing, may have been detected at long last by a group of scientists led by nanoscientist Leo Kouwenhoven. Fermions generally have distinct antiparticles; for example an electron’s antiparticle is the positively charged positron. Majorana fermions are distinct from other types of fermions in being their own antiparticles. Over decades particle physicists tried to observe Majorana fermions in nature and after 2008, condensed matter physicists began to think of ways in which they could be formed from the collective behavior of electrons in solid state materials, specifically on surfaces placed in contact with superconductors or in one-dimensional wires. Multiple schemes have been proposed in which Majorana fermions act as the bits in quantum computers. If the results hold up, it also means that the group has beaten CERN to the punch. The neutralino, a hypothetical supersymmetric particle that could account for some or all of the Universe's dark matter, is thought to be a Majorana fermion and some models suggest that neutralinos could be produced by the Large Hadron Collider.
GeoffB writes: Network Rail, the company that runs, maintains and develops much of the UK railway infrastructure, has placed some of their archive material online. The new material includes drawings of stations, tunnels and bridges by Brunel, Stephenson and other railway engineering greats. Network Rail intends to continue developing the archive and there is an "ask the archivist" section to request further information.
from the ancient-picnic-defender dept.
thomst writes "Charles Q. Choi of LiveScience reports that a farmer in southern Henan Province in China has dug up the first known ant-eating dinosaur, a half-meter-long theropod (the dinosaur family to which T. Rex belongs), whose fossilized remains were described as 'fairly intact'. The 83- to 89-million-year-old pygmy dinosaur has been named named Xixianykus zhangi by Xig Xu, De-you Wang, Corwin Sullivan, David Hone, Feng-lu Han, Rong-hao Yan, and Fu-ming Du, whose paper on the critter, A basal parvicursorine (Theropoda: Alvarezsauridae) from the Upper Cretaceous of China, was published in the March 29 issue of Zootaxa (the abstract is available in PDF format for free, the full article is paywall-protected.)"
Matt_dk writes: "This month an ESA team is preparing to test the performance of the smallest yet most precisely controllable engine ever built for space, sensitive enough to counteract the force of incoming sunshine. Measuring only ten centimetres across and emitting a faint blue glow as it runs, the Field Emission Electric Propulsion (FEEP) engine produces an average thrust equivalent to the force of a single falling hair. But despite its low power, FEEP's thrust range and controllability are far superior to more forceful thrusters, holding the key to future success of an ambitious ESA science mission."