Three new physics experiments could revamp the standard model

Physicists build giant machines to study tiny particles

Diana Parno’s head swam when she first stepped inside the enormous, metallic vessel of the experiment KATRIN. Within the house-sized, oblong structure, everything was symmetrical, clean and blindingly shiny, says Parno, a physicist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “It was incredibly disorienting.”

Now, electrons — thankfully immune to bouts of dizziness — traverse the inside of this zeppelin-shaped monstrosity located in Karlsruhe, Germany. Building the experiment took years and tens of millions of dollars. Why create such an extreme apparatus? It’s all part of a bid to measure the mass of itty-bitty subatomic particles known as neutrinos. Read more.

Targeted Alpha Therapy, an Emerging Class of Cancer Agents: A Review



Targeted alpha therapy attempts to deliver systemic radiation selectively to cancer cells while minimizing systemic toxic effects and may lead to additional treatment options for many cancer types.


Theoretically, the high-energy emission of short-range alpha particles causes complex double-stranded DNA breaks, eliciting cell death. No known resistance mechanism to alpha particles has been reported or scientifically established. The short-range emission of alpha particle radiation confines its cytotoxic effect to cancerous lesions and the surrounding tumor microenvironment while limiting toxic effects to noncancerous tissues. The high level of radiobiological effectiveness of alpha particles, in comparison with beta emissions, requires fewer particle tracks to induce cell death. Clinically effective alpha particle–emitting isotopes for cancer therapy should have a short half-life, which will limit long-term radiation exposure and allow for the production, preparation, and administration of these isotopes for clinical use and application. Read more.

New Mobile Emissions Van Designed to Track Atmospheric Emissions

Two UC Riverside professors are driving around California in order to pinpoint sources of air pollution. They will be driving the university’s new Mobile Isotope Laboratory, a Mercedes Benz transport van equipped with a collection of tools capable of measuring the flux of greenhouse gases in the environment in real time. Read more.

Searching for clues on extreme climate change

Nearly 13,000 years ago, pines in southern France experienced a cold snap, which scientists have now reconstructed

The remains of a buried pine forest at the foot of Mont Saint Genis in Southern France yield insightful information on a drastic climate change event. The pine tree stand initiated around 12,900 years ago during the relatively warm "Allerød" period, and continued growing into the cold snap of the "Younger Dryas" period. Researchers at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam, together with international colleagues, have for the first time combined classic tree-ring width measurements with chemical (stable isotope) analyses of carbon and oxygen in tree-rings to reconstruct climate variables. Thus, they were able to calculate local soil water composition (precipitation) and relative humidity at annual time resolution. This resulted in novel insights into the hydrological variability and atmospheric circulation changes during an abrupt climate change event. Read more.

Corn in the bones: The science behind North Korea war remains

When war remains arrive at the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to be reunited with waiting families, there’s always a question: How do they know for sure who it is? DPAA laboratory director John Byrd and forensic anthropologist Jennie Jin, who leads the Korea War team, walked reporters through the science behind how they will identify 55 boxes of remains returned by North Korea this summer. Read more.