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Gizmorama - September 21, 2016

Good Morning,

China is heading for the stars! After a successful launch of their second orbital module the future looks bright for more launches in the years to come.

Learn about this and more interesting stories from the scientific community in today's issue.

Until Next Time,

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*-- Tiangong-2 launched: China's second orbital module is space-bound --*

JIUQUAN, China - China's space agency successfully launched its second orbital module, Tiangong-2, on Thursday evening, local time.

The module was attached to a Long March 7 rocket and launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northern China -- part of the Dongfeng Aerospace City on the edge of the Gobi Desert.

Tiangong-2, originally built as a backup to Tiangong-1, was scheduled to be launched as early as late 2013, but a series of successful missions to the first Tiangong module delayed plans for the second. Tiangong-1 was taken out of service earlier this year.

Once in orbit, Chinese astronauts will be able to dock and board Tiangong-2 for 30-day missions.

Construction and testing of Tiangong-2 was completed earlier this summer at an aerospace facility in Beijing. The module was transported to Dongfeng by train.

"The completion of the transfer signals that the space lab Tiangong-2 mission has entered its launching stage," officials with China's manned space program said in a news release earlier this week.

According to the space agency, the new module will serve as host to a variety scientific experiments in "aerospace medicine, space sciences, on-orbit maintenance and space station technologies."

Tiangong-2 is expected to pave the way for the Tianhe Space Station Core Module -- China's answer to the International Space Station -- which is set to launch in 2018.

The first mission to board the new module will be Shenzhou-11, a two-person crew scheduled to launch in October. Another two-person crew, Shenzhou-12, will follow. A possible resupply mission is scheduled for April 2016.

*-- Electrons squeezed into 'one-dimensional' wires yield quantum effects --*

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Scientists have witnessed quantum effects in electrons after squeezing them into "one-dimensional" wires.

Researchers created so-called "quantum wires" out of the semiconducting material gallium arsenide. The wires were used to bridge the gaps between 6,000 narrow strips of metal. Scientists manipulated the magnetic field and voltage to narrow the available pathways across the bridges.

When the scientists squeezed the electrons onto the quantum wire bridges, they created a traffic jam -- triggering a wave-like quantum effect.

Researcher Christopher Ford likened this wave-like passage of subatomic information to the physics of an overcrowded trolley car.

"If someone tries to get in a door, they have to push the people closest to them along a bit to make room," Ford, a researcher at the University of Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory, explained in a news release. "In turn, those people push slightly on their neighbors, and so on."

"A wave of compression passes down the carriage, at some speed related to how people interact with their neighbors, and that speed probably depends on how hard they were shoved by the person getting on the train," Ford continued. "By measuring this speed, one could learn about the interactions."

But electrons don't just have directional momentum, they also have spin. Scientists were able to design the quantum wire to carry the energy of these quantum spin waves -- in addition to their charge waves.

Scientists have devised a variety of theoretical ideas about how quantum spin waves are passed across a chain of electrons. The latest research allowed scientists to test their theories. Their tests confirmed predictions that different interactions between quantum-mechanical particles would produce a hierarchy of different spin wave "modes" -- some stronger than others.

The tests also confirmed the prediction that the strongest spin waves would be measured across the shortest quantum wires.

Researchers believe their findings -- detailed in the journal Nature Communications -- will help scientists better understand the behavior of quantum-mechanical particles, and allow physicists to better control electrons in quantum computers.


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