Physics Today Daily Edition
Nature: The results of a Pew Research Center poll of 4000 scientists were shared at last week's meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Of the respondents, 87% said scientists should be active in public discussions about science and technology. About 79% said they did not trust the media to distinguish between good and bad science. A small majority, 52%, believe science is often oversimplified in the media. Regarding career advancement, 43% thought that coverage in the news media was important, but just 22% felt that the use of social media was. Only 12% of respondents were following experts in their fields on Twitter or Facebook. The survey indicated that more women than men are active in outreach efforts, and that most of those participating in outreach are younger than 50, which signals a growing trend of increased involvement by underrepresented groups.
MIT Technology Review: Most optical materials bend different wavelengths of light to different degrees. To obtain a clear image, multiple lenses are needed to focus all the light on the same spot. Multiple lenses can make cameras bulky, which poses a problem for small electronic devices. Federico Capasso of Harvard University has now demonstrated the ability of carefully structured thin films of materials such as silicon to bend red, green, and blue wavelengths of light at the same angle. Those three colors are necessary to provide full-color images. The nanostructured material could allow for a significant reduction in the number and size of lenses needed for portable or wearable electronics.
Nature: That young scientists are generally considered to be at the forefront of new ideas in their fields is a widely held belief throughout the sciences. Now, Mikko Packalen of the University of Waterloo in Canada and Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University and their colleagues have found proof to back that up. They wrote a computer program to look for the most commonly used 1-, 2-, and 3-word phrases in the titles and abstracts in the MEDLINE database of biomedical research. To determine which articles were the most innovative, they looked at when the terms first appeared. By calculating the ages of the contributing authors, the researchers found that scientists are significantly more likely to cite innovative ideas in the first 10–15 years of their career than they are later in life. They also found that the most innovative papers had an early-career first author and a mid-career last author. The numbers might shift somewhat depending on the particular field of study, or if the full text of the articles were analyzed.
New Scientist: Meteors pass through Earth's sky every day, but determining which will hit the ground is not easy. Now, Manuel Moreno-Ibàñez of the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain and his colleagues have developed a model that predicts which meteors will explode and which will land. Their model relies on two parameters: the drag and the heating the meteor experiences because of friction in the atmosphere. To test the model, the researchers used trajectory and height data from the Meteorite Observation and Recovery Project. The model also predicts how much energy meteorites will have at impact and where they will strike. Although not useful as any sort of early warning system, it will help scientists locate meteorites after impact for further study.