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Far From Radio Interference, the Square Kilometre Array Takes Root in South Africa and the Australian Outback

The telescope’s first phase, SKA1, blazes the path to radio astronomy’s future discovery machine

13 min read
Photo of Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory, in Western Australia.
Photo: CSIRO

Photo of Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory, in Western Australia. Standing Tall: Dish antennas stand out against the sky at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory, in Western Australia. They’re part of the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder telescope (ASKAP), which is equipped with special “phased array feeds”—sets of 188 individual receivers that pick up radio signals reflected off the dishes, giving the telescope a wide field of view. Photo: CSIRO

Even in early winter, the sun is harsh in Western Australia’s Murchison shire. In this land of unpaved roads, kangaroo tracks, and low, scrubby vegetation, visitors can and sometimes do get lost. Nevertheless, here I am, a few hundred kilometers from the coast, standing on rusty red dirt, hiding under my sun hat. I am visiting a future site of one of the most ambitious telescopes ever conceived.

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A Transistor for Sound Points Toward Whole New Electronics

“Topological” acoustic transistor suggests circuits with dissipationless flow of electricity or light

3 min read
Model of a honeycomb lattice

Model of a honeycomb lattice that serves as the basis for a "transistor" of sound waves—whose design suggests new kinds of transistors of light and electricity, made from so-called topological materials. Electrons in a topological transistor, it is suspected, would flow without any resistance.

Hoffman Lab/Harvard SEAS

Potential future transistors that consume far less energy than current devices may rely on exotic materials called "topological insulators" in which electricity flows across only surfaces and edges, with virtually no dissipation of energy. In research that may help pave the way for such electronic topological transistors, scientists at Harvard have now invented and simulated the first acoustic topological transistors, which operate with sound waves instead of electrons.

Topology is the branch of mathematics that explores the nature of shapes independent of deformation. For instance, an object shaped like a doughnut can be deformed into the shape of a mug, so that the doughnut's hole becomes the hole in the cup's handle. However, the object couldn't lose the hole without changing into a fundamentally different shape.

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Taking Cosmology to the Far Side of the Moon

New Chinese program plans to use satellites in lunar orbit to study faint signals from early universe

3 min read
crescent moon
Darwin Fan/Getty Images

A team of Chinese researchers are planning to use the moon as a shield to detect otherwise hard-to-observe low frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum and open up a new window on the universe. The Discovering the Sky at the Longest Wavelengths (DSL) mission aims to seek out faint, low-frequency signals from the early cosmos using an array of 10 satellites in lunar orbit. If it launches in 2025 as planned, it will offer one of the very first glimpses of the universe through a new lens.

Nine “sister” spacecraft will make observations of the sky while passing over the far side of the moon, using our 3,474-kilometer-diameter celestial neighbor to block out human-made and other electromagnetic interference. Data collected in this radio-pristine environment will, according to researchers, be gathered by a larger mother spacecraft and transmitted to Earth when the satellites are on the near side of the moon and in view of ground stations.

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Rohde & Schwarz

In this webinar you will learn more about solutions for high test speeds and throughput as well as how to cover multiple tests with one set-up.

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