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Physics 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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Colors in this image depict peak wave heights of the tsunami that hit Japan on Friday, March 11. The TeraGrid Community Steps Up to Help Japan in Crisis
Advanced computation enabled by supercomputers enhances understanding of earthquake and tsunamis and their impacts
Released  May 2, 2011
Image of the LHCb magnet. Strange B Meson Studies at LHCb Provide New Tools for Discovery
Physicists study rare particles to learn why the universe has more matter than antimatter
Released  March 28, 2011
Graphic simulation of electron cloud in layer of copper oxide in a cuprate superconductor. Asymmetric Electron Behavior Discovered in High-temperature Superconductors
Finding could eventually lead to cheaper electrical power
Released  August 31, 2010
Artistic visualization of the atomic and magnetic moment structure of chromia. Researchers Control Collective Spin States Electrically at Room Temperature
Breakthrough paves way to store and process information in novel spin-electronics
Released  August 16, 2010
Illustration of a double-stranded DNA in a synthetic nanopore revealed by molecular simulation. New Gene Sequencing Method Could Reduce Cost, Increase Speed
Researchers are developing a new kind of DNA sequencer that will make the dream of "reading" a person's genetic code for less than $1,000 a reality
Released  July 16, 2010
Photo of researchers kneeling behind a dilution refrigerator equipped for microwave measurements. Measuring the Intersection of Two Worlds
How "spooky" quantum mechanical laws may affect everyday objects
Released  June 30, 2010
Illustration showing optical beam splitter method and new method of controlling electron spin. Breakthrough in Electron Spin Control Brings Quantum Computers Closer to Reality
Research allows control of a single electron without disturbing other nearby electrons
Released  February 26, 2010
Crystal Structure of URu2Si2. Lifting the Curtain on Mysterious Hidden Order
Theoretical spectroscopy and computational model reveal hidden ordered state
Released  February 9, 2010
Illustration showing H. pylori liquefying stomach mucin to cross over to the epithelium cells. How Bacteria Get Past Our Defenses
Research team uncovers how the bacterium that causes ulcers travels through the sticky gels of stomach mucus
Released  November 4, 2009
Optical micrograph showing the small and large pores (black) within the Ni-Mn-Ga alloy (white). Metallic Shape-Memory Foam Shows Giant Response to Magnetic Fields
"Smart" alloy stretches, contracts by almost 10 percent
Released  October 16, 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
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
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
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
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 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
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
artist's rendition of polar gas molecules First Ultracold Polar Molecule Gas Ready for Research
Groundbreaking technique could lead to quantum computers, molecular clocks and super-efficient power plants
Released  October 29, 2008
Photograph of the compact muon solenoid detector at CERN. Physicists Gear Up for Huge Data Flow
University of Nebraska researchers build a computer center to handle the flood of data expected from the world's next-generation particle accelerator
Released  August 7, 2008
Computer graphic showing quantum vortices formed when atoms expand for 50 thousandths of a second. Beyond Cold: How the World Works at Minus 459 Degrees
Graduate student David McKay describes how atoms are cooled to near absolute zero for research using an approach called quantum simulation
Released  July 25, 2008
A picture of the setting sun off the coast of Estonia and the letter "A." Cracking the Code of Images
New software easily detects pictures' hidden messages
Released  July 15, 2008
Illustration of photocathode gun. Brightest X-ray Vision at the Nano-scale
Superconducting 'universal toolkit' for scientists, engineers will conserve energy, too
Released  June 6, 2008
Photo of the detector slice from the back, at the surface. Building a Machine to Search for Cosmic Secrets
Katherine McAlpine describes the intricate lowering into place of the last large piece of the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) detector, part of the Large Hadron Collider
Released  April 2, 2008
Photo of Matt Johnson, NSCL staff engineer, inspecting a 45-degree dipole magnet Nuclear Scientists Explore the Core of Existence
A journalist at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory describes physicists' experiments to understand the neutron dripline and some surprising results
Released  March 24, 2008

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