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Mathematical & Physical Sciences (MPS) Discoveries

NSF's public investment in science, engineering, education and technology helps to create knowledge and sustain prosperity. Read here about the Internet, microbursts, Web browsers, extrasolar planets, and more... a panoply of discoveries and innovations that began with NSF support.

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Photo of Anna Kornfeld Simpson with her robot High School Student Develops Chemical-detecting Robot
California senior describes how she developed a mobile, autonomous robot, spending time in the lab of an NSF-supported researcher, and she shares what it was like to win at the state science fair competition
Released  October 6, 2009
Composite of two Hubble Space Telescope images of a global dust storm on Mars. Monitoring and Predicting Extraterrestrial Weather
Scientists adapt a weather research and forecasting tool to model global weather on the Earth, Mars and beyond
Released  September 22, 2009
Adaptive optics image of Titan showing storm feature. Methane Clouds Observed Near Titan's Equator May Explain Presence of Riverbeds on the Surface
The Huygens probe discovered fluid-formed channels in the arid equatorial regions of Titan, Saturn's largest moon
Released  August 12, 2009
Photo of Charles Sykes and two graduate students using a scanning tunneling microscope. Chemist Aims to Turn Molecules Into Motors
Charles Sykes and his team use scanning tunneling microscopes to study novel molecular motors and rotors
Released  July 22, 2009
Graphical representation of seven test molecule structures. Video Game Technology and Science?
Chemists use the computer technology behind today’s video games to rapidly calculate the structure of molecules
Released  July 15, 2009
Smog over San Jose, California Every Breath You Take
Scientists search for an understanding of the air-water interface and its effect on air quality
Released  July 13, 2009
Photo showing Caroline Moore at work in her home observatory New Supernova Is Discovered by Young Citizen Scientist
Caroline Moore's discovery has made experts question how stars die
Released  July 9, 2009
Illustration showing scanning tunneling microscopy and angle-resolved photo-electron spectroscopy. Exploring High-temperature Superconductivity and the Pseudogap
Research using two complimentary techniques increases understanding of superconductor materials
Released  June 15, 2009
Photo of JILA's strontium atomic clock. Coping With Unusual Atomic Collisions Makes an Atomic Clock More Accurate
Researchers have figured out how to nullify collision effects and make the clock still more precise
Released  May 20, 2009
Photo showing bright red-orange photoluminescence from porous silicon nanoparticles. Safer Nano Cancer Detector
Nanoparticle test in mice could pave the way for human uses
Released  April 30, 2009
Photo of the MIT battery material. Improved Lithium Ion Battery Technology Could Fast-charge Electric Vehicles, Boost Acceleration
"Beltway" coating on cathode eases ions' way into crystalline tunnels
Released  April 22, 2009
Image of the collision of a proton and antiproton. A Better Mass for the W Boson; Higgs Boson Given Less Space to Hide
Analyzing several years' worth of results from Fermilab's Tevatron collider, physicists come up with the most accurate measurement to date of the mass of the W boson, and narrow down the possible mass of the still undiscovered Higgs boson
Released  April 7, 2009
Illustration of a nanoscale experiment. Squeezing Noise Below Quantum Limits
Exquisitely sensitive microwave amplifier increases nano-scale measurement accuracy; could lead to quantum computing breakthroughs
Released  March 26, 2009
Illustration showing entanglement to and from distinct quantum memories. A Beautiful Memory
Breakthrough in "entanglement" demonstrates potential of quantum information science
Released  March 17, 2009
Eight thumbnail images and 2008 in Review 2008: Year in Review
A look back at some of the NSF-supported advances and activities that made news last year
Released  March 13, 2009
Image showing the red and blue letters retrieved from a data cube. New Record for World's Smallest Letters
Stanford University breaks record set in 1991, promises denser information storage
Released  March 10, 2009
Illustration of a highly-magnetized neutron star undergoing a "starquake." Shockwave of X-ray Starquake Enthralls Scientists
For postdoctoral researcher Andrew Steiner and other astrophysicists, the shockwave that jolted the Earth in late December 2005 was a lucky find, providing new data on neutron stars
Released  March 2, 2009
Illustration showing information from left atom teleported to right atom three feet away. How to Teleport Quantum Information from One Atom to Another
Researchers have shown for the first time how to use a process called teleportation to transfer a quantum state over a significant distance from one atom to another
Released  February 25, 2009
Photo of end-on view of high numerical aperture custom lens system used to trap and image an atom. Excited Atoms Advance Quantum Computing
Scientists using a single atom to control another with the Rydberg Blockade principle have moved a step closer to unimaginable computing power
Released  February 24, 2009
Photo of researchers Bret Flanders and Prem Thapa in their laboratory at Kansas State University. Electrical Nanowires Probe Individual Cells
Radically new technology for studying and controlling cells at the nanoscale
Released  February 20, 2009
Photomicrograph of biocompatible, bioactive glass. Reflecting on the Many Uses of Glass
The director of NSF's International Materials Institute for New Functionality in Glass at Lehigh University focuses on glass research and exciting students from underrepresented groups about glass science and engineering
Released  February 20, 2009
Illustration showing one sphere being repelled from a plate and the other sphere being attracted. Nanoscale Repulsion
Tiny quantum force, measured for the first time, could be an aid to nanodevice designers
Released  February 19, 2009
Image showing ball and stick model of two crossing carbon nanotubes on a graphite surface. Measuring Excitement for Carbon Nanotubes
Studying light pulses in nanoscale molecules brings scientists closer to understanding properties that may lead to a multitude of applications
Released  February 10, 2009
Photo of Cornell University researchers who are developing flexible electronics. Did You Say Flexible Electronics?
Organic electronic devices possible with supercritical carbon dioxide process
Released  February 2, 2009
Artist's conception of the Milky Way. New Galactic Distance Measurements Increase Milky Way's Mass and Rotation Speed
Galaxy is spinning faster and is 50 percent more massive than earlier studies indicated
Released  January 30, 2009
Image of transparent ceramic. Pore-free Ceramics Shine New Light on Lasers, Electronics and Biomedical Implants
Novel process for developing transparent ceramics from powder eliminates pores
Released  January 29, 2009
Illustration depicting the relative sizes of the sun and Earth. Cheaper Plastic Solar Cells in the Works
South Dakota State University’s Diane Hinkens describes her work in an interdisciplinary research collaboration that is trying to design, synthesize and eventually fabricate a more efficient and less costly solar cell
Released  January 13, 2009
Illustration of the inside of the vacum chamber showing the spectrometer. For the "Few-Body Problem," a Solution From Another Plane
Complex ionization collisions can be explained with a "simple" classical model
Released  December 29, 2008
Counterfeit (left) and genuine (right) samples of artesunate from Cameroon. Fake Drugs Exposed by Rapid Chemical Assay
Forensic chemistry leads to shut down of large-scale drug counterfeiting operation in Southeast Asia
Released  December 18, 2008
Photo of Ben Arend installing a detector during the reconfiguration of the NSCL's experimental area. Unlocking the Secrets of Atomic Nuclei
Rare isotope research at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory leads to important new applications in areas such as medical treatments and security technology
Released  November 13, 2008

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