Revised definitions for four scientific units — the kilogram, the kelvin, the ampere and the mole — come into force today. The change, decided last year, means that all the base units of the International System of Units (SI) are now defined according to fixed fundamental constants of nature, rather than by a physical object or arbitrary reference.

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Sean McWilliams, an assistant professor at West Virginia University, has developed a mathematical method for calculating black hole properties from gravitational wave data. He has written a paper describing his method and posted it on the arXiv preprint server. The paper has been accepted for publication in Physical Review Letters.

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Machine learning (ML), a form of artificial intelligence that recognizes faces, understands language and navigates self-driving cars, can help bring to Earth the clean fusion energy that lights the sun and stars. Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) are using ML to create a model for rapid control of plasma—the state of matter composed of free electrons and atomic nuclei, or ions—that fuels fusion reactions.

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A permanent electric dipole moment (EDM) of a particle or system is a separation of charge along its angular momentum axis and is a direct signal of T violation and, assuming CPT symmetry, CP violation. For over 60 years EDMs have been studied, first as a signal of a parity-symmetry violation and then as a signal of CP violation that would clarify its role in nature and in theory. Contemporary motivations include the role that CP violation plays in explaining the cosmological matter-antimatter asymmetry and the search for new physics. Experiments on a variety of systems have become ever-more sensitive, but provide only upper limits on EDMs, and theory at several scales is crucial to interpret these limits. Nuclear theory provides connections from standard-model and beyond-standard-model physics to the observable EDMs, and atomic and molecular theory reveal how CP violation is manifest in these systems. EDM results in hadronic systems require that the standard-model QCD parameter of ¯θ must be exceptionally small, which could be explained by the existence of axions, also a candidate dark-matter particle. Theoretical results on electroweak baryogenesis show that new physics is needed to explain the dominance of matter in the Universe. Experimental and theoretical efforts continue to expand with new ideas and new questions, and this review provides a broad overview of theoretical motivations and interpretations as well as details about experimental techniques, experiments, and prospects. The intent is to provide specifics and context as this exciting field moves forward.

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In 1983, it was discovered that the internal structure of a nucleon — a proton or a neutron — depends on its environment. That is, the structure of a nucleon in empty space is different from its structure when it is embedded inside an atomic nucleus. However, despite vigorous theoretical and experimental work, the cause of this modification has remained unknown. In a paper in Nature, the CLAS Collaboration presents evidence that sheds light on this long-standing issue.

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Thanks to a quirk of quantum theory, subatomic particles can emit light as they travel through a seemingly empty vacuum.

The speed of light varies in water, ice and other media. In some cases, an electron or other charged subatomic particle passing through a medium travels more quickly than light moving through the same medium. Such a speedy particle creates a cone of compressed waves as it zips through its surroundings. These waves emit light, called Cherenkov radiation, that has a bluish tinge.

Alexander Macleod, Adam Noble and Dino Jaroszynski at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, UK, find that this phenomenon can also occur in a vacuum. According to quantum theory, a vacuum is actually filled with pairs of ephemeral particles that spontaneously come into being before cancelling each other out again. The team’s calculations show that these particles can momentarily reduce the speed of light around them. As a result, a particle travelling at near the speed of light might emit Cherenkov radiation.

Under certain conditions, Cherenkov radiation in a vacuum should be detectable. If so, observations of the radiation could verify some interactions between light and matter predicted by quantum theory.

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