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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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illustration showing air pushed through vocal folds causing them to vibrate The aeroacoustics of jets
Simulations helps scientists understand and control turbulence in humans and machines
Released  June 27, 2014
An illustration of multilayer graphene supported on an amorphous SiO2 substrate. Making graphene work for real-world devices
Fundamental research in phonon scattering helps researchers design graphene materials for applications
Released  April 24, 2014
 the Large Hadron Collider. Catching the Fever
Particle Fever discovers the human element to physics
Released  March 14, 2014
Partha Mitra is contributing to the construction of the first 3-D map of the mouse brain. NSF-funded researchers describe their cutting-edge brain research
Why and how are researchers studying the brains of mice, octopuses, zebra fish, frogs, lizards and cichlid fish?
Released  February 6, 2014
sequence of images showing how a dog drinks water Scientists apply biological behavior to human engineering
Study of animals' water drinking motions could lead to better water pumps and new insights into locomotion and propulsion
Released  January 24, 2014
Ana Maria Rey Research models behavior of ultra-cold atoms and polar molecules
Results could lead to new materials for more effective superconductors
Released  November 25, 2013
Marie Curie in her lab Diversity in science
Celebrating Marie Curie's birthday means recognizing her courage, commitment and scientific genius
Released  November 7, 2013
Graphic illustration showing a human head, light and waves Prying Open the Black Box of the Brain
NSF-funded workshop addresses brain structure and function
Released  June 12, 2013
Graphic showing daughter Alfven wave Understanding How Space Turbulence Works
Researcher conducts supercomputer simulations to learn impacts on Earth's magnetic field
Released  April 15, 2013
Image of a young woman holding a circuit board and next to table with electronics. CalWomenTech Scale Up Project: Proven Tools Attract Women to STEM Training Programs
Project aims to increase recruitment and retention of women in community college STEM programs
Released  April 6, 2012
Students use the PhET Wave Interference simulation. PhET Simulations Provide Interactive Learning Tools
The PhET project, which was founded by Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman, offers simulations where students can simulate experiments and more
Released  January 25, 2012
Screenshot of the Molecular Workbench. The Molecular Workbench Wins SPORE Award
NSF-funded project wins award for being an outstanding online educational resource
Released  August 4, 2011
Simulated data showing protons colliding to form a Higgs boson that decays into hadrons, electrons. Testing Technicolor Physics
Researchers use the NSF-supported Ranger supercomputer to explore alternative particle theories
Released  May 5, 2011
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

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