Physics tip sheet #29 October 23, 2002


Preprint: http://www.arxiv.org/abs/cs.CC/0210020

7) Surfing chemical reactions
J. Wolff, A. G. Papathanasiou, H. H. Rotermund, G. Ertl
To appear in Physical Review Letters

Chemical reactions can surf on a wave of light-generated heat, according to new experiments. Physicists looked at the catalytic oxidation of carbon monoxide (as happens in catalytic converters for vehicle exhaust systems). They hit the catalytic surface (made of platinum) with a laser to heat it in a small region, then moved the laser to change the hot spot on the catalyst. The conversion reaction moved with the hot spot, "surfing" on the moving waves of heat. If the laser was moved too quickly, the reaction fell off the back of the wave to leave isolated spots of reaction.

Journal article: Available on request

8) Micro gravity
J. Chiaverina, S. J. Smullin, A. A. Geraci, D. M. Weld, A. Kapitulnik
arXiv preprint server

If the universe has extra dimensions, they might show up by modifying the force of gravity at small scales. Because gravity is relatively weak, it is hard to measure it precisely but physicists are continually pushing to smaller scales. A new experiment takes another bite out of the region where gravity could present surprises. Experimentalists moved a cantilever only a few hundreds of micrometers in size over a pattern of gold and silicon stripes. The different densities mean different forces from gravity and the cantilever bent different amounts. The results show that gravity doesn't show any huge departures from that predicted by conventional gravity, down to scales of 25 micrometers. In the process, it rules out some of the theories that predicted modification to gravity on these scales.

Preprint: http://www.arxiv.org/abs/hep-ph/0209325

Contact: David Harris
American Physical Society

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