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University Of Houston: The Pressure Is Off And High Temperature Superconductivity Remains –



In a critical next step toward room-temperature superconductivity at ambient pressure, Paul Chu, Founding Director and Chief Scientist at the Texas Center for Superconductivity at the University of Houston (TcSUH),  Liangzi Deng, research assistant professor of physics at TcSUH, and their colleagues at TcSUH conceived and developed a pressure-quench (PQ) technique that retains the pressure-enhanced and/or -induced high transition temperature (Tc) phase even after the removal of the applied pressure that generates this phase.

Pengcheng Dai, professor of physics and astronomy at Rice University and his group, and Yanming Ma, Dean of the College of Physics at Jilin University, and his group contributed toward successfully demonstrating the possibility of the pressure-quench technique in a model high temperature superconductor, iron selenide (FeSe). The results were published in the journal  Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA­­­.

“We derived the pressure-quench method from the formation of the man-made diamond by Francis Bundy from graphite in 1955 and other metastable compounds,” said Chu. “Graphite turns into a diamond when subjected to high pressure at high temperatures. Subsequent rapid pressure quench, or removal of pressure, leaves the diamond phase intact without pressure.”

Chu and his team applied this same concept to a superconducting material with promising results.

“Iron selenide is considered a simple high-temperature superconductor with a transition temperature (Tc) for transitioning to a superconductive state at 9 Kelvin (K) at ambient pressure,” said Chu.

“When we applied pressure, the Tc increased to ~ 40 K, more than quadrupling that at ambient, enabling us to unambiguously distinguish the superconducting PQ phase from the original un-PQ phase. We then tried to retain the high-pressure enhanced superconducting phase after removing pressure using the PQ method, and it turns out we can.”

Dr. Chu and colleagues’ achievement brings scientists a step closer to realizing the dream of room-temperature superconductivity at ambient pressure, recently reported in hydrides only under extremely high pressure.

Superconductivity is a phenomenon discovered in 1911 by Heike Kamerlingh Onnes by cooling mercury below its transition Tc of 4.2 K, attainable with the aid of liquid helium, which is rare and expensive. The phenomenon is profound because of superconductor’s ability to exhibit zero resistance when electricity moves through a superconducting wire and its expulsion of magnetic field generated by a magnet. Subsequently, its vast potential in the energy and transportation sectors was immediately recognized.

To operate a superconducting device, one needs to cool it to below its Tc, which requires energy. The higher the Tc, the less energy needed. Therefore, raising the Tc with the ultimate goal of room temperature of 300 K has been the driving force for scientists in superconductivity research since its discovery.

In defiance of the then-prevailing belief that Tc could not exceed the 30’s K, Paul Chu , and colleagues discovered superconductivity in a new family of compounds at 93 K in 1987, achievable by the mere use of the inexpensive, cost-effective industrial coolant of liquid nitrogen. The Tc has continuously been raised since to 164 K by Chu et al. and other subsequent groups of scientists. Recently a Tc  of 287 K was achieved by Dias et al. of Rochester University in carbon-hydrogen-sulfide under 267 gigapascal (GPa).

In short, the advancement of Tc to room temperature is indeed within reach. But for future scientific and technological development of hydrides, characterization of materials and fabrication of devices at ambient pressures is necessary.

“Our method allows us to make the material superconducting with higher Tc without pressure. It even allows us to retain at ambient the non-superconducting phase that exists only in FeSe above 8 GPa. There is no reason that the technique cannot be equally applied to the hydrides that have shown signs of superconductivity with a Tc approaching room temperature.”

The achievement inches the academic community closer toward room-temperature superconductivity (RTS) without pressure, which would mean ubiquitous practical applications for superconductors from the medical field, through power transmission and storage to transportation, with impacts whenever electricity is used. 

Superconductivity as a means to improve power generation, storage and transmission is not a new idea, but it requires further research and development to become widespread before room temperature superconductivity becomes a reality. The capacity for zero electrical resistance means energy can be generated, transmitted and stored with no loss – an enormous low-cost advantage. However, current technology demands that the superconducting device be kept at severely low temperatures to retain its unique state, which still requires additional energy as an overhead cost, not to mention the potential hazard of the accidental failure of the cooling system. Hence, an RTS superconductor with no extra pressure to sustain its beneficial properties is a necessity to move forward with more practical applications.

The properties of superconductivity are also paving the way for a competitor to the famous bullet train seen throughout East Asia: a maglev train. Short for “magnetic levitation,” the first maglev train built in Shanghai in 2004 successfully broadened usage in Japan and South Korea and is under consideration for commercial operation in the US. At top speeds of 375 miles per hour, cross country flights see a quick competitor in the maglev train. A room temperature superconductor could help Elon Musk realize his dream of a “hyperloop” to travel at a speed of 1000 miles per hour.

This successful implementation of the PQ technique on room temperature superconductors discussed in Chu and Deng’s paper is critical in making superconductors possible for ubiquitous practical applications.

Now the riddle of RTS at ambient pressure is even closer to being solved.

This press release was produced by the University of Houston. The views expressed here are the author’s own.

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Facial Recognition—Now for Seals – Hakai Magazine



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Have you ever looked at a seal and thought, Is that the same seal I saw yesterday? Well, there could soon be an app for that based on new seal facial recognition technology. Known as SealNet, this seal face-finding system was developed by a team of undergraduate students from Colgate University in New York.

Taking inspiration from other technology adapted for recognizing primates and bears, Krista Ingram, a biologist at Colgate University, led the students in developing software that uses deep learning and a convolutional neural network to tell one seal face from another. SealNet is tailored to identify the harbor seal, a species with a penchant for posing on coasts in haulouts.

The team had to train their software to identify seal faces. “I give it a photograph, it finds the face, [and] clips it to a standard size,” says Ingram. But then she and her students would manually identify the nose, the mouth, and the center of the eyes.

For the project, team members snapped more than 2,000 pictures of seals around Casco Bay, Maine, during a two-year period. They tested the software using 406 different seals and found that SealNet could correctly identify the seals’ faces 85 percent of the time. The team has since expanded its database to include around 1,500 seal faces. As the number of seals logged in the database goes up, so too should the accuracy of the identification, Ingram says.

The developers of SealNet trained a neural network to tell harbor seals apart using photos of 406 different seals. Photo courtesy of Birenbaum et al.

As with all tech, however, SealNet is not infallible. The software saw seal faces in other body parts, vegetation, and even rocks. In one case, Ingram and her students did a double take at the uncanny resemblance between a rock and a seal face. “[The rock] did look like a seal face,” Ingram says. “The darker parts were about the same distance as the eyes … so you can understand why the software found a face.” Consequently, she says it’s always best to manually check that seal faces identified by the software belong to a real seal.

Like a weary seal hauling itself onto a beach for an involuntary photo shoot, the question of why this is all necessary raises itself. Ingram believes SealNet could be a useful, noninvasive tool for researchers.

Of the world’s pinnipeds—a group that includes seals, walruses, and sea lions—harbor seals are considered the most widely dispersed. Yet knowledge gaps do exist. Other techniques to track seals, such as tagging and aerial monitoring, have their limitations and can be highly invasive or expensive.

Ingram points to site fidelity as an aspect of seal behavior that SealNet could shed more light on. The team’s trials indicated that some harbor seals return to the same haulout sites year after year. Other seals, however, such as two animals the team nicknamed Clove and Petal, appeared at two different sites together. Increasing scientists’ understanding of how seals move around could strengthen arguments for protecting specific areas, says Anders Galatius, an ecologist at Aarhus University in Denmark who was not involved in the project.

Galatius, who is responsible for monitoring Denmark’s seal populations, says the software “shows a lot of promise.” If the identification rates are improved, it could be paired with another photo identification method that identifies seals by distinctive markings on their pelage, he says.

In the future, after further testing, Ingram hopes to develop an app based on SealNet. The app, she says, could possibly allow citizen scientists to contribute to logging seal faces. The program could also be adapted for other pinnipeds and possibly even for cetaceans.

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NASA launches nanosatellite in preparation for lunar 'Gateway' station – Yahoo News Canada



The rocket carrying the Capstone satellite lifts off. (NASA)

Nasa has launched a tiny CubeSat this week to test and orbit which will soon be used by Gateway, a lunar space station.

It’s all part of the space agency’s plan to put a woman on the moon by 2025.

The Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (Capstone) mission launched from New Zealand on Tuesday.

Jim Reuter, associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate, said: “Capstone is an example of how working with commercial partners is key for Nasa’s ambitious plans to explore the moon and beyond.

“We’re thrilled with a successful start to the mission and looking forward to what Capstone will do once it arrives at the Moon.”

Read more: Astronomers find closest black hole to Earth

The satellite is currently in low-Earth orbit, and it will take the spacecraft about four months to reach its targeted lunar orbit.

Capstone is attached to Rocket Lab’s Lunar Photon, an interplanetary third stage that will send it on its way to deep space.

Over the next six days, Photon’s engine will periodically ignite to accelerate it beyond low-Earth orbit, where Photon will release the CubeSat on a trajectory to the moon.

Capstone will then use its own propulsion and the sun’s gravity to navigate the rest of the way to the Moon.

The gravity-driven track will dramatically reduce the amount of fuel the CubeSat needs to get to the Moon.

Read more: There might once have been life on the moon

Bradley Cheetham, principal investigator for CAPSTONE and chief executive officer of Advanced Space, “Our team is now preparing for separation and initial acquisition for the spacecraft in six days.

“We have already learned a tremendous amount getting to this point, and we are passionate about the importance of returning humans to the Moon, this time to stay!”

At the moon, Capstone will enter an elongated orbit called a near rectilinear halo orbit, or NRHO.

Once in the NRHO, Capstone will fly within 1,000 miles of the moon’s north pole on its near pass and 43,500 miles from the south pole at its farthest.

It will repeat the cycle every six-and-a-half days and maintain this orbit for at least six months to study dynamics.

“Capstone is a pathfinder in many ways, and it will demonstrate several technology capabilities during its mission timeframe while navigating a never-before-flown orbit around the Moon,” said Elwood Agasid, project manager for Capstone at Nasa’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley.

“Capstone is laying a foundation for Artemis, Gateway, and commercial support for future lunar operations.”

Nasa estimates the cost of the whole Artemis mission at $28bn.

It would be the first time people have walked on the moon since the last Apollo moon mission in 1972.

Just 12 people have walked on the moon – all men.

Nasa flew six manned missions to the surface of the moon, beginning with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in July 1969, up to Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt in December 1972.

The mission will use Nasa’s powerful new rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), and the Orion spacecraft.

Watch: NASA launch paves way for moon orbit station

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The year’s biggest and brightest supermoon will appear in July & here’s when you’ll … – Curiocity



Summer is here and with it? Sunshine – and some serious moonshine (of the visible variety, of course). This upcoming month, look up in anticipation of the biggest and brightest event of the year, the July Buck supermoon – which will hover over North America on July 13th.

Appearing 7% larger and lower in the sky, this particular event will be one well worth keeping an eye on when it rises above the horizon.

This will be the closest we’ll get to our celestial neighbour in 2022 (357,418 km) and while North America won’t get to see it when it reaches peak illumination at 2:38 pm ETC., it’ll still look pretty dang impressive after the sunsets.

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Not sure when the moon rises in your area? Here’s the earliest that you’ll be able to see the moon in various cities across the continent according to the Farmer’s Almanac.

  • Seattle, Washington  – 9:50 pm PDT
  • Vancouver, British Columbia – 10:02 pm PDT
  • Calgary, Alberta – 10:35 pm MST
  • Edmonton, Alberta – 10:49 pm MST
  • Toronto, Ontario – 9:34 pm MST
  • Montreal, Quebec – 9:18 pm MST

Until then, cross your fingers for a clear sky, friends! It’s going to be incredible.

Happy viewing.


When: Wednesday, July 13th

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