Physics Today Daily Edition
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.
New York Times: A long-standing conspiracy theory suggests that the condensation trails that form behind planes as they fly at high altitudes are actually "chemtrails" produced by aircraft spraying chemicals into the sky for sinister reasons. Steven J. Davis of the University of California, Irvine, and his colleagues have now published the first peer-reviewed study that examines and debunks a wide range of claims made by supporters of the chemtrail theory. The study surveyed 77 atmospheric scientists, who were asked to provide scientific explanations for such phenomena as the occasional gap in a contrail or elevated chemical levels in the atmosphere. Davis said the goal of the study is to counter the misinformation that appears to be rife on the internet.
Spaceflight101: On 15 August China launched the Quantum Science Satellite into orbit aboard a Long March 2D rocket. The satellite carries a crystal that generates entangled pairs of photons. An optical communication system splits each pair and transmits one of the photons to a ground station in either Vienna, Austria, or Beijing, China. The photons are then used to generate encryption keys. Researchers have tested similar setups on Earth's surface by using two stations spaced a few hundred kilometers apart. The Quantum Science Satellite will be the first space-based communications test system.
Nature: One of Stephen Hawking's most famous predictions is that black holes evaporate and disappear due to the emission of radiation. That radiation has not been spotted directly, but now an analog to the phenomenon has been detected escaping from an artificial black hole. Created by Jeff Steinhauer of the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, the so-called black hole is a Bose–Einstein condensate (BEC) of supercooled rubidium atoms. The event horizon is created by accelerating the atoms until they exceed the speed of sound in the medium. Steinhauer says that the BEC then experiences quantum fluctuations of pairs of entangled phonons on either side of the event horizon.