Earth 2.0 – have we found a replacement?

Fancy jetting off somewhere new and exotic for your holidays this year? How about the newest, most expensive option out there?

Proxima b is your newly discovered, closest neighbouring habitable planet. Only 4.25 light years away, this rocky planet orbits our nearest star, Proxima Centuri. With a mass 1.3 times that of Earth, and a surface temperature which may, hopefully, if there’s an atmosphere, allow liquid water oceans to form, this planet may just be visit-able. A year long holiday on this planet is the perfect length – it lasts only 11.2 Earth days, excluding the 70,000 years of travel on modern spacecraft each way.

Okay, so the average surface temperature could be anything from…

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The electric shock to science: has a room temperature supercurrent been achieved?

Supercurrents seem like the stuff of science fiction. But they’re real, and they’re what happen when particles move without any resistance, so they don’t lose any energy. They’re usually only possible at very low temperatures of below -150°C, but now a group of scientists think they might have gone one step further, and produced a supercurrent at room temperature.

According to the paper, which was published by an international team in Nature Physics, a supercurrent is “a macroscopic effect of a phase-induced collective motion of a quantum condensate”. Put simply, it’s a quantum effect seen on a much larger scale than the tiny world of quantum.

It is only possible to set up a supercurrent…

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A Super Computer for a Super-long Proof

Some maths is just too hard or complicated for humans. Some would just take too long. A new proof for the Boolean Pythagorean triples problem is too long even to be read by a human. At 200TB (or 46,600 DVDs worth!) it is the longest mathematical proof ever – even the shortened version (still a hefty 68 GB) would take 30,000 hours for a computer to process.

The Boolean Pythagorean triples problem asks whether it is possible to assign all of the natural numbers (positive integers) a colour of either blue or red, so that the numbers in no Pythagorean triple are all the same colour. A Pythagorean triple is a set of three integers that satisfies the condition a2 + b2 = c2. This equation is useful for finding the lengths of the sides of a right angled triangle.

The problem is harder than it looks. Some integers are part of…

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