A team of astrophysicists led by Dr Rubens Reis from the University of Michigan has directly measured the spin of a supermassive black hole in a quasar named RX J1131-1231, located 6 billion light years away from Earth.

Multiple images of the quasar RX J1131-1231 are visible in this data from Chandra and Hubble. Image credit: X-ray - NASA / CXC / University of Michigan / R.C. Reis et al; optical – NASA / STScI.

Multiple images of the quasar RX J1131-1231 are visible in this data from Chandra and Hubble. Image credit: X-ray – NASA / CXC / University of Michigan / R.C. Reis et al; optical – NASA / STScI.

Gravitational lensing by an intervening elliptical galaxy – in the middle of the image – has created four different images of RX J1131-1231.

Such lensing offers a rare opportunity to study regions close to the black hole in distant quasars, by acting as a natural telescope and magnifying the light from these sources.

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 pvalue art

For a brief moment in 2010, Matt Motyl was on the brink of scientific glory: he had discovered that extremists quite literally see the world in black and white.

The results were “plain as day”, recalls Motyl, a psychology PhD student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Data from a study of nearly 2,000 people seemed to show that political moderates saw shades of grey more accurately than did either left-wing or right-wing extremists. “The hypothesis was sexy,” he says, “and the data provided clear support.” The P value, a common index for the strength of evidence, was 0.01 — usually interpreted as 'very significant'. Publication in a high-impact journal seemed within Motyl's grasp.

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Adapted from G. Aad et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. (2014)

We have no idea what dark matter is. Most attempts to unravel the mystery entail trying to directly detect primordial dark matter particles as they stream by Earth. But it is, in principle, possible to produce dark matter particles in colliders. Until now, bounds from direct detection have been stronger than such collider searches. Now, the ATLAS collaboration at the LHC reports in Physical Review Letters that

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The following ORDER N27 has been issued by the director of A. Alikhanyan National Laboratory (Yerevan Physics Institute) to insure sustained electron synchrotron operation for competitive research programs in future.

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