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Luke Campbell
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Here's an idea for focusing XUV beams. XUV (eXtreme Ultra Violet) is a frequency of light that is strongly absorbed by matter. This makes it problematic to focus it with lenses (because the lens absorbs the light) and difficult to do with mirrors (you can get some reflection at grazing incidence angles, but there's still a fair amount of absorption). This report suggests making a lens out of gaseous helium (the strong binding energy between the electrons and the nucleus in helium, and lack of low-lying atomic electronic excited states, make it difficult to excite the electrons in the atom and therefore you don't get much absorption, even in XUV). Not only can you focus the XUV beam, but the lens automatically heals any damage it might sustain because it is constantly being re-formed.
https://phys.org/news/2018-11-atomic-jetthe-lens-extreme-ultraviolet.html
Cue the obligatory note about how this can be used for sci-fi ray guns (although since XUV can't get through the air, it would be space-based ray guns).
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Another design for compact particle accelerators
https://phys.org/news/2018-11-paving-microchip.html
the article claims that by using light instead of RF fields, accelerators can be made only 1/10 as long. This isn't laser wake-field acceleration, but rather a traditional linac built on a microscopic scale.

The application to sci-fi ray guns is obvious.
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More methods of moisture farming
https://phys.org/news/2018-11-dusty-air.html
It seems like all of a sudden, researchers are coming up with many different methods for pulling water from air.
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Figuring out a world's composition when all you know is its diameter:
https://phys.org/news/2018-10-planets.html
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So our computers could run a million times faster and a million times more energy efficiently. Which of course means they will end up with a million times more bloatware, a million times more ridiculous functions that no one wants or needs, and Windows will still suck.

https://phys.org/news/2018-10-transition-metal-dichalcogenides-memory.html
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Who ordered that?

Cyanobacteria survive using photosynthesis. So who would have expected to find them living deep underground where there is no light?

https://phys.org/news/2018-10-cyanobacteria-meters-underground-sunlight.html
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Snakebite is one of the deadliest of tropical diseases, second only to malaria in terms of the rate of human fatalities. I've seen estimates of snakebite killing 200,000 people per year. That's about one person every 3 minutes. And that's only the people who die. Many species have necrotoxic venoms that destroy tissue, leading to crippling and loss of limbs. Undoubtedly, many more people are crippled than killed.

I am fortunate, living in the United States, that our local venomous snakes are not terribly toxic (although they can cause permanent crippling and occasionally even death), and that we have good hospitals that are usually stocked with antivenoms - along with well trained and well funded emergency response programs to evacuate people and get them to the hospital in time for the antivenoms to be effective. Even in Australia, known for its extremely deadly elapid snakes, modern medicine and emergency response means very few people die each year. The situation is very different in developing countries in Central and South America, South Asia, and much of Africa. Poor people without adequate footwear living directly adjacent to their farms (whose grain draws rodents, which in turn draws the snakes that prey on them), who store grain in their houses, and who often sleep directly on the floor in houses riddled with holes and gaps, who cannot reach a hospital in time if they get bitten, and even if they could, the hospitals often lack refrigeration or cannot afford antivenoms.

This is why I am always glad to see research results like this. Progress is slow because big business is not going to invest money in people who cannot afford their products. But some brave researchers nevertheless persevere, trying to improve antivenom technology to make it more accessible to those who need it.
https://phys.org/news/2018-10-high-tech-breakthrough-snakebite-antivenom.html

Incidentally, the snake involved in this story is the black mamba - a fast-moving, twitchy, belligerent serpent that is fast to strike. They are found through much of central Africa. No one on record has ever survived a black mamba bite without anivenom. This is a snake that you take very seriously.

Also, this kind of antivenom sounds like it can eliminate serum sickness - a nasty allergic reaction that people can get when injected with modern antivenoms.
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