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Quantum tractor beam could tug atoms, molecules

Philip Marston
Marston

The wavelike properties of quantum matter could lead to a scaled-down version of Star Trek technology. A new kind of tractor beam could use a beam of particles to reel in atoms or molecules, physicists propose in the May 5 Physical Review Letters.

“The idea is very reasonable,” says Philip Marston of Washington State University in Pullman. Although the results are still theoretical, “I think somebody will probably find some way to demonstrate this in the lab,” Marston says.

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Science News

WSU student announces run for Congress: Sutherland pushes for newer, younger voices in the Democratic Party

A student of political science and physics at Washington State University will run for Congress next year, pushing the message that anybody can run for office, no matter his or her age.

Matthew Sutherland
Sutherland

If Democrat Matthew Sutherland, 24, were to unseat Republican incumbent Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers in Washington’s 5th Congressional District, he would be 26 when he takes office.

His campaign revolves around a grassroots-centric movement called the New Blue – an effort to re-organize and re-energize the Democratic party by getting newer and younger people involved in the party, putting them in leadership positions and turning the party’s focus to the interests of people rather than elites.

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‘Negative mass’ created at Washington State University

Michael Forbes

Washington State University physicists have created a fluid with negative mass, which is exactly what it sounds like. Push it, and unlike every physical object in the world we know, it doesn’t accelerate in the direction it was pushed. It accelerates backwards.

The phenomenon is rarely created in laboratory conditions and can be used to explore some of the more challenging concepts of the cosmos, said Michael Forbes, a WSU assistant professor of physics and astronomy and an affiliate assistant professor at the University of Washington. The research appears today in the journal Physical Review Letters, where it is featured as an “Editor’s Suggestion.”

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New physics, astronomy chair starts Feb. 1

Brian Saam

Brian Saam, an expert in experimental atomic physics, will become professor and chair of the Washington State University Department of Physics and Astronomy on Feb. 1. He has conducted research and taught introductory and advanced courses for 17 years at the University of Utah, where he was associate chair of his department and associate dean of the College of Science.

He succeeds interim chair Sukanta Bose, professor of physics, and former chair Matthew McCluskey, professor of physics, who will return to their teaching and research activities.

“My number one priority as chair will be maintaining the size and academic reach of the department while keeping a strategic eye toward areas where we can grow the breadth of our research,” he said.

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WSU News

Metallic hydrogen finally made in lab at mind-boggling pressure

Jeffrey McMahon

Metallic hydrogen has been created in the lab for the first time, by squeezing a sample of the element to pressures beyond what exists at the centre of the Earth. The creation of a substance first predicted more than 80 years ago could one day lead to superfast computers or souped-up rocket fuel.

“If this experiment is reproducible, it solves experimentally one of the major outstanding problems in all of physics,” says Jeffrey McMahon at Washington State University in Pullman.

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New Scientist