Physics Today Daily Edition
Nature: In the US, the average yearly salary for a postdoc is about $45 000, and many postdocs work much more than 40 hours per week. A new rule finalized by the US Department of Labor, which takes effect on 1 December, will make overtime pay mandatory for many postdoctoral researchers who make less than $47 476 per year. In the US, overtime pay is 1.5 times the normal hourly wage; that rate is triggered when a worker exceeds 40 hours at a single job in a week. Many institutions and funders of postdoc positions will likely opt to increase salaries above the minimum level. However, other positions may get eliminated to compensate. The overtime rule does not apply to postdoctoral positions for which the primary duty is teaching, which means that many humanities postdocs will not benefit.
Nature: Online preprint servers, such as arXiv, allow researchers to publicly share their papers prior to peer review. The sites are growing in popularity because they provide free access to cutting-edge research, albeit in draft form. Journal publisher Elsevier, which has tried unsuccessfully to establish its own preprint server, has now purchased the Social Science Research Network, one of the most popular preprint servers for economics, law, and the social sciences. The move appears to be part of the publisher's larger effort to broaden its services in order to increase web traffic and protect its subscription-based journals.
Gizmodo: Aside from their wavelength, photons also have a measurable angular momentum that characterizes their rotation along their axis of travel. That value has always been observed to be some integer multiple of Planck's constant. Now Paul Eastham of Trinity College Dublin and his colleagues have manipulated photons so they have half-integer angular momentum. To do that, the researchers made use of a phenomenon first discovered in the 1830s: When light is passed through certain crystals, it creates a cylinder-like structure. Theoretical analysis of the system suggested that the resulting photons had half-integer angular momentum, and measurements proved the predictions correct. The team thinks that such photons could be used for encrypted light-based communications.