Physics Today Daily Edition
Reuters: The $24 billion project to build a nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in the UK has inspired several companies and government agencies to begin exploring the potential usefulness of small modular reactors (SMRs). Those scaled-down versions of reactors comprise a series of smaller parts, or modules, that can be made in factories, easily transported to a construction site, and assembled in just 6 to 12 months. Many companies envision using multiple SMRs in the place of a single large reactor because they could produce nearly as much electricity at a fraction of the cost. The UK's National Nuclear Laboratory estimates that by 2035, up to 7 GW of electricity—more than twice the planned capacity of the Hinkley Point power plant—could be generated by SMRs.
New Scientist: A blockchain is a method of securing data by encrypting batches of transactions made within a system and linking them into a chain that is then stored on all the computers in a network. It is most commonly used for cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. Now residents in a community in Australia will use a blockchain to share the electricity they generate from their home solar panels. In the initial test run, 20 households in the community will be equipped with a Raspberry Pi computer system to track their energy use. The system will record transactions as residents sell their extra electricity to each other, though no energy will actually be traded for the first two months. Assuming the test is successful, PowerLedger, the company behind the system, plans to deploy larger networks in Perth and Victoria next year.
New Scientist: In 2009, Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek made a $1000 bet with theoretical physicist Garrett Lisi that CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) would detect a supersymmetric particle by July 2015. Lisi had made headlines in 2007 as the "surfer physicist" because of his interest in extreme sports. Because of delays with the collider, the physicists extended the bet by one year. On 17 August Wilczek conceded the bet. So far, the LHC has discovered only the Higgs particle, which was predicted by the standard model. However, the standard model is incomplete, and one of the most widely accepted alternative theories is supersymmetry, in which standard-model particles have heavier partners. Several variations of supersymmetry have been mostly ruled out by the lack of new LHC discoveries.