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Researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland say that they have made the first ever direct measurements of the strength of the tiny van der Waals forces passing between individual atoms. Though weak compared with covalent bonds, van der Waals forces are fundamental for the function of biological systems and define the properties of many organic compounds.

Researchers studied a distant star (white dwarf G191-B2B) where gravity is more than 30,000 times greater than on Earth to test the controversial theory that one of the constants of Nature-the strength of the electromagnetic force, known as alpha-is not a constant. #astrophysics

A photon (particle of light) can oust an electron from an atom or molecule, but the electron doesn't depart instantly. With the advent of attosecond (10^-18 second) laser pulses, physicists can measure this brief delay, which can reveal details of atomic structure. But until now, they have only measured it in atoms and simple solids; isolated molecules were too complicated. Now a team has measured the delays for H2O and N2O.

Popular physics theory running out of hiding places

Researchers at the Large Hadron Collider detected one of the rarest particle decays seen in nature. The finding deals a blow to the theory of physics known as supersymmetry, or SUSY, which gained popularity as a way to explain some of the inconsistencies in the traditional theory of subatomic physics known as the Standard Model. If supersymmetry is not an explanation for dark matter, then theorists will have to find alternative ideas to explain those inconsistencies in the Standard Model.

In a new proposed experiment, two toaster-sized "nanosatellites" carrying entangled condensates orbit around the Earth, until one of them moves to a different orbit with a different gravitational field strength. As a result of the change in gravity, the entanglement between the condensates is predicted to degrade by up to 20%. Experimentally testing the proposal may be possible in the near future.

Van Allen Probes Discover a Surprise Circling Earth

Two giant swaths of radiation, known as the Van Allen Belts, surrounding Earth were discovered in 1958. In 2012, observations from the Van Allen Probes showed that a third belt can sometimes appear.

Strange Quarks and Muons, Oh My! Nature's Tiniest Particles Dissected (Infographic)

Infographic: Strange Quarks and Muons, Oh My! Nature's Tiniest Particles Dissected (Infographic) by Karl Tate, LiveScience

Quasar RX J1131-1231: Chandra & XMM-Newton Provide Direct Measurement of Distant Black Hole's Spin: Astronomers have directly measured the spin of a supermassive black hole in a quasar that is located 6 billion light years away. This is the most distant black hole where such a measurement has been made. Black holes are defined by just two simple characteristics: mass and spin. Finding out how quickly black holes are spinning reveals important information about how they grow over time.

The United States and the European physics laboratory have formally agreed to partner on continued LHC research, upcoming neutrino research and a future collider.