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Physical sciences/Physics/Condensed matter physics/Light matter interactions

Data collected by the Fermi Space Telescope provide conclusive evidence that supernovae are the source of the speedy, energetic particles called cosmic rays, an international research team reports.

These charged particles, which are mostly protons, continuously assail the planet from outer space. There is general consensus among scientists that supernova remnants (the leftovers of a supernova explosion) are the sources of cosmic rays, but the final proof has been elusive because cosmic rays are deflected on their way to Earth.

Priscilla Laws’ love of learning almost came to an abrupt end very early on—when she left kindergarten, where learning was by doing, and entered first grade, where learning was rote. “They promoted me to first grade, and it was dreadful,” said Laws, a research professor of physics at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania. “I was sitting in a seat and copying letters from a board.”

As a child tinkering with household appliances in Michigan, Karlin Bark imagined a career in the automotive industry. But a class in haptics—the science of touch—took her in a new direction, eventually resulting in her efforts as a doctoral candidate to improve prosthetic limb fittings. Now a postdoctoral researcher, Bark has worked on tactile feedback systems to help surgeons during robot-assisted procedures, and she hopes to advance stroke rehabilitation, too. She is one of five female postdocs to receive the 2011 L’Oréal USA Fellowships for Women in Science.