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We live in a world of extremes, where being fervently for or against an issue often becomes the dominant social ideology – until an opposing belief that is equally extreme emerges to challenge the first one, eventually becoming the new social paradigm. And so the cycle repeats, with one ideological extreme replacing another, and neither delivering a sustainable solution. Political revolutions, economic bubbles, booms and busts in consumer confidence, and short-lived reforms such as Prohibition in the US all follow this kind of cycle. Why, researchers want to know, does a majority of the population not settle on an intermediate position that blends the best of the old and new?

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(—Imagine a clock that will keep perfect time forever, even after the heat-death of the universe. This is the “wow” factor behind a device known as a “space-time crystal,” a four-dimensional crystal that has periodic structure in time as well as space. However, there are also practical and important scientific reasons for constructing a space-time crystal. With such a 4D crystal, scientists would have a new and more effective means by which to study how complex physical properties and behaviors emerge from the collective interactions of large numbers of individual particles, the so-called many-body problem of physics. A space-time crystal could also be used to study phenomena in the quantum world, such as entanglement, in which an action on one particle impacts another particle even if the two particles are separated by vast distances.

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Graphene found to have optical gain properties

( — Ever since its discovery in 2004, graphene, the honey-comb arranged sheet of one atom thick carbon atoms, has continued to make waves in both the physics and engineering worlds. Now comes news from yet another research team heralding a new found property of the fascinating material. This time, as the group describe in their paper published in Physical Review Letters, it’s been found to have optical gain properties as a result of population inversion of electrons when struck with a short blast from a laser.

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