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Slow relaxation occurs in many physical and biological systems. “Creep” is an example from everyday life. When stretching a rubber band, for example, the recovery to its equilibrium length is not, as one might think, exponential: The relaxation is slow, in many cases logarithmic, and can still be observed after many hours. The form of the relaxation also depends on the duration of the stretching, the “waiting time.” This ubiquitous phenomenon is called aging, and is abundant both in natural and technological applications. Here, we suggest a general mechanism for slow relaxations and aging, which predicts logarithmic relaxations, and a particular aging dependence on the waiting time. We demonstrate the generality of the approach by comparing our predictions to experimental data on a diverse range of physical phenomena, from conductance in granular metals to disordered insulators and dirty semiconductors, to the low temperature dielectric properties of glasses.
Thanks to researchers at Department of Homeland Security S&T, communities can fortify today’s critical structures — and design tomorrow’s — to absorb blows and remain open if assaulted by extreme earth, wind, water, fire, or man. A new publication series, aimed at engineers, architects, building owners, city planners, and emergency managers, makes available years of government, industry, and academic research on designs and materials to make buildings and tunnels terror-resistant and terror-resilient. The Building and Infrastructure Protection Series provides architects and engineers a set of aids for designing critical infrastructure to withstand all kinds of hazards…at a cost that won’t break the budget.
Boise State geophysics researchers have created a new way to study fractures by producing elastic waves, or vibrations, through high-intensity light focused directly on the fracture itself. The new technique developed in the Physical Acoustics Lab may help determine if there is a fluid, such as magma or water, or natural gas inside fractures in the Earth. Typically, scientists create sound waves at the surface to listen for echoes from fractures in the ground, but this new technique could provide more accurate information about the cracks because sound does not have to travel to the fracture and back again. The new technique aims to enhance scientists’ abilities to image faults in the Earth, including those man-made through the process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Tracking and identifying metal objects can prove difficult for some radio frequency identification systems. A patent-pending technology developed by a research team at the Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering at North Dakota State University, Fargo, could solve these RFID tracking problems. The antennaless RFID tag developed at CNSE could help companies track products as varied as barrels of oil to metal cargo contaRFID tag bottleiners. A typical RFID tag is made up of an integrated circuit and an antenna. While there are different types of tags available, many don’t work well on metal objects or on containers filled with liquid. Previous attempts to solve this problem have resulted in bulky tags that are easily destroyed by routine handling. Researchers at the center have developed a patent-pending novel approach, with an antennaless RFID tag, allowing for an inexpensive and manufacturable product tracking solution that meets EPCglobal Standards.
Research scientist Andreas Mershin has a dream to bring inexpensive solar power to the masses, especially those in developing countries. After years of research, he and his team at MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms, along with University of Tennessee biochemist Barry Bruce, have worked out a process that extracts functional photosynthetic molecules from common yard and agricultural waste. If all goes well, in a few years it should be possible to gather up a pile of grass clippings, mix it with a blend of cheap chemicals, paint it on your roof and begin producing electricity. Talk about redefining green power plants!