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Top 10 APIs for ZIP Codes

A ZIP Code is a postal code that the U.S. Postal service relies on to help sort and deliver mail. ZIP is short for Zone Improvement Plan, and was implemented by the U.S. Postal Service in 1963, to help “zip” along mail delivery.

Developers who are producing shipping, eCommerce, or location-based services may find that determining ZIP codes and/or International postal codes is a crucial feature for a successful application. In order to accomplish this, developers would need a suitable ZIP Codes API.

What is a ZIP Codes API?

A ZIP Codes API enables developers to integrate applications with ZIP code look-up, or other ZIP code related data and functions.

The best place to find these APIs, and other postal code related APIs, is in the ZIP Codes category on ProgrammableWeb. In this article, we highlight the top 10 ZIP Codes APIs, based on page visits on the ProgrammableWeb website.

1. Zip API US

Zip API USA provides a free way to look up city and state based on ZIP code. The Zip USA APITrack this API has additional data in regards to population, age and hospital information based on ZIP code. Hospital data returned includes hospital name, address, phone, geolocation, naics description, website, helipad access, population, number of beds. Also, developers can now use the hospital lookup information to help track the COVID-19 outbreak.

2. Return ZIP Codes Inside Radius API

Pro Map Tools offers mapping and geospatial APIs. The Return ZIP Codes Inside Radius APITrack this API allows developers to integrate the Pro Map Restful web service into their applications, enabling users to search from a specified location and radius to return all USA ZIP codes found in the radius together with the distance from the centre location to each ZIP code.

3. USPS ZIP Code Lookup API

The USPS ZIP Code Lookup Web Tool APITrack this API allows developers to get the ZIP Code and ZIP Code + 4 corresponding to a given address, city, and state. This API can process up to five lookups per request.

4. Unlimited Criminal Checks Offender API

Unlimited Criminal Checks provides users with databases on criminal records across the U.S. Unlimited Criminal Checks Offender APITrack this API allows developers and marketers to query and retireve records from criminal courts, the Department of Corrections, sex offender registries, current and historic white pages (great for skip tracing) and reverse cellphone look-ups. The API returns offender information including ZIP codes.

5. Dutch Postcode API

Dutch Postcode is a RESTful APITrack this API that allows users to verify Dutch addresses, returning street name, municipality, province and GPS coordinates when a postcode is requested. The data is open government data from the Netherlands.

6. ZipCodeAPI.com API

The ZipCodeAPITrack this API enables developers to integrate zipcode, distance, and location features into applications. JSON, XML, and CSV formats are supported. Project is part of RedLine13, a load testing company. Free to use up to 10 times per hour, or paid plans are available.

7. Interzoid Weather by ZIP Code API

The Interzoid Weather by Zip Code APITrack this API delivers current weather and temperature around the United States. Weather data can add local weather-based customization to consumer applications, business applications, and Web sites. Innovators can access weather conditions using live data from over 3,000 weather stations in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii.

8. Bing Maps Location Recognition API

When given latitude and longitude location coordinates, the Bing Maps Location Recognition APITrack this API returns a list of entities ranked by their proximity to that location. The URL response contains three components: local business entities near that location (e.g. restaurants, hotels, office buildings, transit stations, etc.), natural points of interest near that location (e.g. beaches, valleys, etc.), and a reverse geocoded address including postal codes, of that location.

9. apiBridge India Pincodes and Places API

The apiBridge India Pincodes and Places APITrack this API provides a simple JSON API to retrieve an up-to-date & accurate India Pincode dataset. API methods such as autocomplete and validation are available. A Postal Index Number (PIN) code is a six-digit code in the Indian postal code system used by India Post.

Get address, geocoordinates and more information from a Pincode with this API. Image: apiBridge

10. Zipwise ZIP Code Web Services

The Zipwise ZIP Code Web Services API allows developers to submit standard web API requests and receive XML or JSON responses back. Look up current ZIP code data or city data, perform radius searches, and find the distance between two locations. Includes US and Canada ZIP codes. Service levels range from free to unlimited.

Check out the ZIP Codes category for more than 50 APIs, 19 SDKs, and 26 Source Code samples.

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Author: <a href="https://www.programmableweb.com/user/%5Buid%5D">joyc</a>

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ScienceDaily

Simulating wind farm development

Wind farms are large, highly technical projects but their development often relies on personal decisions made by individual landowners and small communities. Recognizing the power of the human element in wind farm planning, Stanford University researchers have devised a model that considers how interactions between developers and landowners affect the success and cost of wind farms.

“I’ve been doing work on the costs of wind farms for about 10 years and I’ve found that the soft costs — basically the cost interactions between people — are overlooked,” said Erin MacDonald, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford. “Existing models can tell us how to eke out a little more value by making a blade turn in a slightly different way but aren’t focused on the reasons why a community accepts or rejects a wind farm.”

In a paper, published June 19 in the Journal of Mechanical Design, the researchers present a model that highlights three actions developers could take during this process of landowner acquisition — community engagement meetings, preliminary environmental studies and sharing plans for wind turbine layout with the landowner — and investigates how those actions would affect the eventual cost of the wind farm. The cost analysis suggests that these actions, while contributing to upfront costs, may end up saving developers money in the long run.

With additional input from real-life landowner acquisition case studies, the researchers hope to further refine this model to ultimately increase the success of project implementation and reduce the cost of overall wind farm development.

Quantifying interactions

During the process of planning a wind farm, a developer uses models to predict how much the project will cost versus how much energy it will produce. These models are mathematical formulas that map the relationships between different pieces of a project — such as materials, labor, land and, in this case, interactions between developers and landowners.

In previous work, MacDonald and her former graduate student and postdoctoral fellow, Le Chen, created a model where they integrated landowner decision-making into a wind farm layout optimization model — which otherwise focuses on what physical layout will produce the most energy. With this model, developers can anticipate and prioritize which landowners will have the most influence on the success of their project. This latest work adds details about other interpersonal interactions throughout the early development process.

“When I worked in the energy industry, the models I used often lacked human input,” said Sita Syal, a graduate student in mechanical engineering and lead author of the paper. “We don’t deny the rigor of economic or engineering analysis, but we encourage developers to consider the benefits of social analysis as well.”

“This work gives developers a framework to evaluate different actions, whereas right now it’s hard to compare potential impacts of those actions, for example, how investing in landowner relations stacks up against buying more efficient equipment,” said Yiqing Ding, a graduate student in mechanical engineering and co-author of the paper.

To account for soft costs in their model, the researchers had to study and brainstorm different scenarios for the interactions that occur during wind farm development — and their outcomes — and then translate the most crucial details of those interactions into formulas that could integrate with more traditional project analysis models. Their model, which is an initial proof-of-concept, suggests that actions that increase landowner involvement in the planning process lead to more landowners accepting a development contract, and this increase in acceptance would translate to cost savings overall — particularly in cases where they prevent failure of the project.

“The model suggests that taking preemptive actions can improve landowners’ acceptance but can also incur cost,” said Ding. “Timing is also important: we found that when an action is taken can influence landowner acceptance.”

While some developers conduct community meetings and preliminary environmental studies, sharing a layout plan with landowners is rare. Typically, all landowners involved in a wind farm will be given a vague contract that does not actually specify how their land will be used by the final project and, relatedly, how much money they will be paid.

A co-design process

The researchers recognize that making the development process more transparent is challenging and adds to initial expenses. However, they are still optimistic about the potential for innovative, collaborative actions that could ultimately improve the success and value of wind power.

For example, MacDonald suggests that virtual reality mockups of turbine plans might increase landowner contract acceptance, given that previous studies have found that people tend to be more accepting of the appearance of turbines once they see them in place.

“It would almost be like a co-design process between the developers and landowners,” said MacDonald. “The developer is including the landowner in the process in a collaborative way by showing them, not just where the turbines would be, but also explaining the advantages and disadvantages of different layouts.”

Other options for increasing transparency and collaboration could include making contracts easier to read and giving landowners some choice, such as two alternatives for how their land could be used.

Meanwhile, the proof-of-concept model for landowner acceptance requires continued research and refinement. The researchers are hoping to see more studies of soft costs for wind farms in general and would like to gain more insight into developers’ processes — which tend to be proprietary — in order to make the model useful to them.

The best outcome would be that all their painstaking efforts to distill and translate human interaction into mathematical relationships result in a program where a developer could, for example, input the amount of money they plan to spend on community meetings and receive a probability for landowner contracts that is customized to that community.

“We’re thinking many steps down the line but someday this could be a tool for creating community-supported sustainable energy infrastructure,” said Syal.

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Researchers develop thin heat shield for superfast aircraft

The world of aerospace increasingly relies on carbon fiber reinforced polymer composites to build the structures of satellites, rockets and jet aircraft.

But the life of those materials is limited by how they handle heat.

A team of FAMU-FSU College of Engineering researchers from Florida State University’s High-Performance Materials Institute is developing a design for a heat shield that better protects those extremely fast machines. Their work will be published in the November edition of Carbon.

“Right now, our flight systems are becoming more and more high-speed, even going into hypersonic systems, which are five times the speed of sound,” said Professor Richard Liang, director of HPMI. “When you have speeds that high, there’s more heat on a surface. Therefore, we need a much better thermal protection system.”

The team used carbon nanotubes, which are linked hexagons of carbon atoms in the shape of a cylinder, to build the heat shields. Sheets of those nanotubes are also known as “buckypaper,” a material with incredible abilities to conduct heat and electricity that has been a focus of study at HPMI. By soaking the buckypaper in a resin made of a compound called phenol, the researchers were able to create a lightweight, flexible material that is also durable enough to potentially protect the body of a rocket or jet from the intense heat it faces while flying.

Existing heat shields are often very thick compared to the base they protect, said Ayou Hao, a research faculty member at HPMI.

This design lets engineers build a very thin shield, like a sort of skin that protects the aircraft and helps support its structure.

After building heat shields of varying thicknesses, the researchers put them to the test.

One test involved applying a flame to the samples to see how they prevented heat from reaching the carbon fiber layer they were meant to protect. After that, the researchers bent the samples to see how strong they remained.

They found the samples with sheets of buckypaper were better than control samples at dispersing heat and keeping it from reaching the base layer. They also stayed strong and flexible compared to control samples made without protective layers of nanotubes.

That flexibility is a helpful quality. The nanotubes are less vulnerable to cracking at high temperatures compared to ceramics, a typical heat shield material. They’re also lightweight, which is helpful for engineers who want to reduce the weight of anything on an aircraft that doesn’t help the way it flies.

The project received second place among peer-reviewed posters at the 2019 National Space and Missile Materials Symposium and received third place at the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering 2019 University Research Symposium.

That recognition is helpful for showing the United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research, which partially supported the work, the promise of further research, Hao said.

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Materials provided by Florida State University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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Better samples, better science: New study explores integrity of research specimens

Effective diagnosis and treatment of disease draws on painstaking research, which often relies on biological samples. The avalanche of studies used to better understand illnesses and design effective therapies cost billions of dollars and potentially affects millions of lives.

So, it would seem reasonable to assume that the reliability of biological samples, on which accurate results depend, would be of paramount concern for the scientific community.

According to Chad Borges, a researcher in the Biodesign Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics at Arizona State University, that assumption is quite often wrong.

“One of the major reasons that there are so many discoveries of biomarkers (early indicators of disease) in the literature, but so few positive validations that confirm those findings is the fact that in many cases during the discovery, samples were used that have a history or an integrity that’s simply unknown.”

Biological samples can be highly susceptible to changes over time, which often occur when they are removed from deep refrigeration. Degraded samples can produce spurious results in research. To address these concerns, Borges and his colleagues have designed a highly sensitive test that can be used to establish the integrity of blood plasma and serum, the most common biosamples used in medical research.

Ensuring such samples have been properly handled is the first step in careful research that meets the necessary high standards of reliability and reproducibility. The new test, which relies on accurate measurement of the relative proportions of two forms of the protein albumin present in blood, was recently described in the journal Molecular and Cellular Proteomics.

Houston, we have a problem

The immediacy of the issue of sample quality became apparent to Borges during the course of his own research, which involved experiments on biological samples slated for distribution by the National Institute of Health (NIH). “We got a little suspicious that something wasn’t quite right about the sample set,” he says. Borges applied the newly designed test to the samples, with surprising results. “Low and behold, there was a major difference between the cases and controls for this specimen integrity marker.”

Further investigation revealed that the freezer in which the control samples were stored had lost power for several days during a natural disaster. “That information is really important with regard to the quality of the samples and the stability of the markers that were in them.”

The implications of this discrepancy plainly went beyond his own research. “Who knows how many other markers are differentiated simply because of the way in which the cases and controls were handled,” Borges says

Lurking beneath the surface

In 2018 alone, the National Institute of Health’s Medline logged close to a million published papers of health-related research. Advances relying on research findings have transformed medical science, improving the quality of life and saving millions from dreaded diseases and afflictions.

But progress has not always been smooth going. In addition to formidable scientific challenges facing researchers, political considerations and career concerns also influence how science is done. The pressure to publish findings in scientific journals often weighs heavily on researchers and is considered essential to the advancement of a young scientist’s career. While rooted in career pragmatism, the increasingly competitive drive to publish or perish can overshadow concerns about data reliability.

Long taken for granted, the issue of scientific reproducibility has recently moved to the forefront of discussions on the practice of science, as many studies face reexamination and increased scrutiny. Just how solid are the results of published studies? Can they be replicated? A recent book-length exposé makes the case that the issues surrounding scientific reliability are considerably more profound and alarming than once thought.

Biological samples are ground zero in the quest for dependable science, yet researchers hoping to publish their work may have a disincentive to spend the time to probe the integrity of their specimens. Should they uncover a problem, it may throw their data into question and preclude publication — a serious setback, with little for the researcher to show for it. There is a danger of an ignorance is bliss mentality.

Know your specimens!

As Borges notes, addressing the problem requires two things. First, a regulatory body like the NIH needs to issue strict guidelines that include detailed documentation of sample history and handling. Currently, some scientific journals do require documentation of specimen storage conditions prior to publication, but such records are often inadequate for ensuring a high level of sample integrity. Secondly, researchers need reliable methods for testing their samples to ensure they meet exacting standards. The technique described in the current study is an important advance in this direction.

Depending on the nature and purpose of a given blood plasma or serum sample, even minor fluctuations in the collection, processing, storage and handling can affect quality and reliability. The most important of many factors affecting such samples is the time they have spent in a thawed condition above -30o C. This is also one of the more challenging variables to track over time, in many instances.

One recent clinical example highlighting the issue of sample integrity concerns HER2, a critical biomarker used for the diagnosis of breast cancer. It has recently been discovered that this marker is highly unstable and can yield specious results when applied to sample tissue, unless it is processed within 1 hour of surgical resection.

QC for blood

The new biomarker sets cutoff values for blood plasma and serum, allowing researchers to easily assess the quality of samples and their suitability for given experiments, even if a detailed record of sample handling and storage is unavailable. For the first time, plasma and serum — the most commonly used biospecimens for medical research — can be tracked with a reliable biomarker.

The biomarker, which relies on relative proportions of two isoforms of albumin, requires only a low volume of plasma or serum and minimal sample preparation. (Different isoforms of this protein are functionally similar but an oxygen-induced modification that occurs to an abnormal extent outside of the body is used to identify mishandled samples.)

Albumin is the most abundant protein in blood plasma and serum, comprising roughly half of all protein content in these biofluids. Outside the body, the natural unmodified form of albumin becomes oxidized with time. This can be detected by observing a change in protein mass, using mass spectrometry.

By describing a chemical rate law for this protein oxidation reaction that takes place in plasma and serum, the biomarker acts as a kind of molecular stopwatch that can precisely gauge the elapsed time a particular sample has remained in a thawed state.

The biomarker described is inexpensive, easy and rapid to use and can be fully automated, making it a strong candidate to serve as the new gold standard for plasma and serum analysis. It is capable of detecting biospecimen exposure to room temperature conditions for as little as 2 hours, quickly and accurately identifying mishandled or mis-stored samples and preventing their inclusion in clinical research.

The study was carried out in collaboration with Maricopa County Hospital. Patient study samples were acquired with the help of cardiologist Dr. Christian Breburda and his staff.

In addition to more conventional clinical research, the new biomarker is poised to make inroads in a variety of health-related investigations. It has recently been incorporated into an ambitious project sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA, which uses epigenetic markers in blood to identify exposure to weapons of mass destruction or their precursor chemicals. The new biomarker will be used to ensure the quality of blood samples, further establishing the power and versatility of this approach.

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Check Out These Mechanical Japanese Zen Garden Kinetic Art Pieces

Unlike paintings or sculptures, kinetic art relies on movement to capture the eye and provide meaning. How exactly that is implemented is just as subjective as any other kind of art and is up to the artist to determine. And, as with other art forms, kinetic art requires both technical skill and artistic vision. A painter needs to be capable of precise brush strokes, while a kinetic artist needs to be skilled with their fabrication tools of choice. These mechanical zen gardens, created by Jo Fairfax, are a fantastic example of what that kind of skill and vision can achieve.

These art pieces are, of course, inspired by traditional Japanese zen gardens. Those are intended to facilitate tranquility as the “gardener” carefully brushes the sand. Fairfax’s mechanical zen gardens do something similar, except that they do it all on their own. His reinterpretation of the zen garden consists of a large box with a clear cover. The box is filled with fine iron filings. As a person approaches a mechanical zen garden, it will spring to life and begin drawing patterns in the sand-like iron filings.

The mechanism used to draw the patterns is what makes this project particularly interesting to us. Inside of the box and underneath a barrier separating it from the iron filings, there is a motorized arm covered in an array of electromagnets. An Arduino Uno board controls both the movement of the arm and if each magnet is activated. By activating the magnets at specific points through the arm’s movement cycle, a variety of geometric patterns can be drawn. Fairfax has produced at least a couple of these mechanical zen gardens, though the only major difference between them appears to be their shape and the movement patterns of the motorized arms.

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Author: Cameron Coward

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New material state: Quantum disordered liquid-like magnetic moments

The future of technology relies, to a great extent, on new materials, but the work of developing those materials begins years before any specific application for them is known. Stephen Wilson, a professor of materials in UC Santa Barbara’s College of Engineering, works in that “long before” realm, seeking to create new materials that exhibit desirable new states.

In the paper “Field-tunable quantum disordered ground state in the triangular-lattice antiferromagnet NaYbO2,” published in the journal Nature Physics, Wilson and colleagues Leon Balents, of the campus’s Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, and Mark Sherwin, a professor in the Department of Physics, describe their discovery of a long-sought “quantum spin liquid state” in the material NaYbO2 (sodium ytterbium oxide). The study was led by materials student Mitchell Bordelon and also involved physics students Chunxiao Liu, Marzieh Kavand and Yuanqi Lyu, and undergraduate chemistry student Lorenzo Posthuma, as well as collaborators at Boston College and at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology.

At the atomic level, electrons in one material’s lattice structure behave differently, both individually and collectively, from those in another material. Specifically, the “spin,” or the electron’s intrinsic magnetic moment (akin to an innate bar magnet) and its tendency to communicate and coordinate with the magnetic moments of nearby electrons differs by material. Various types of spin systems and collective patterns of ordering of these moments are known to occur, and materials scientists are ever seeking new ones, including those that have been hypothesized but not yet shown to exist.

“There are certain, more classical moments that let you know to a very high degree of certainty that the spin is pointing in a particular direction,” Wilson explained. “In those, the quantum effects are small. But there are certain moments where the quantum effects are large, and you can’t precisely orient the spin, so there is uncertainty, which we call ‘quantum fluctuation.'”

Quantum magnetic states are those in which the magnetism of a material is primarily driven by such quantum fluctuations, generally derived from the uncertainty principle, intrinsic to magnetic moments. “So, you envision a magnetic moment, but the uncertainty principle says that I can’t perfectly orient that in any one direction,” Wilson noted.

Explaining the quantum spin liquid state, which was proposed long ago and is the subject of this paper, Wilson said, “In conventional materials, the magnetic moments talk to one another and want to orient relative to one another to form some pattern of order.” In classical materials, this order is disrupted by thermal fluctuations, what Wilson describes as “just heat from the environment.”

“If the material is warm enough, it is nonmagnetic, meaning the moments are all sort of jumbled relative to one another,” he explained. “Once the material is cooled, the moments start to communicate, such that their connection to one another outcompetes the thermal fluctuations and they form an ordered state. That’s classical magnetism.”

But things are different in the quantum world, and magnetic moments that fluctuate can actually be the inherent “ground state” of a material.

“So, you can ask if there is a magnetic state in which the moments are precluded from freezing or forming some pattern of long-range order relative to one another, not by thermal fluctuations, but instead, by quantum fluctuations,” Wilson said. “Quantum fluctuations become more relevant as a material cools, while thermal fluctuations increase as it heats up, so you want to find a magnet that doesn’t order until you can get it cool enough such that the quantum fluctuations preclude it from ever ordering.”

That quantum disorder is desirable because it is associated with entanglement, the quantum mechanical quality that makes it possible to encode quantum information. To determine whether NaYbO2 might exhibit that characteristic, the researchers had to determine the intrinsic, or ground state of the material’s magnetic moments when all thermal fluctuations are removed. In this particular system, Wilson was able to determine experimentally that the magnetic moments are intrinsically in a fluctuating, disordered state, thus confirming that a quantum disordered state exists.

To find the hypothesized state, said Wilson, “First you have to put highly quantum magnetic moments into a material, but your material needs to be constructed such that the moments don’t want to order. You do that by using the principle of ‘magnetic frustration.'”

A simple way to think of that, according to Wilson, is to imagine a single triangle in the lattice structure of the material. “Let’s say I build my material so that the magnetic moments are all located on a triangular lattice,” he said, “and they all talk to one another in a way that has them wanting to orient antiferromagnetically, or antiparallel, to one another.”

In that arrangement, any adjacent moment on the triangle wants to orient antiparallel to its neighbor. But because there are an odd number of points, you have one up at one point and one down (antiparallel to the first) at the second point, meaning that the third moment has a differently oriented moment on each side, so it doesn’t know what to do. All of the moments are competing with one another.

“That’s magnetic frustration, and, as it turns out, it reduces the temperature at which the moments are finally able to find some arrangement they all agree on,” Wilson said. “So, for instance, classically, nature decides that at some temperature the mismatched moments agree that they will all point to 120 degrees relative to each other. So they’re not all 100 percent happy but it’s some compromise that establishes an ordered state.”

From there, he added, “The idea is to take a frustrated lattice where you have already suppressed the ordered state, and add quantum fluctuations to it, which take over as you cool the material. Magnetic frustration lowers the ordering temperature enough so that quantum fluctuations eventually take over and the system can stabilize into a fundamentally disordered quantum spin state.”

Wilson continued: “That’s the paradigm of what people are looking for; however, some materials may seem to display this state when actually, they don’t. For instance, all real materials have disorder, such as chemical or structural disorder, and this can also prevent the magnetic moments from talking to each other effectively and becoming ordered. In such a case, Wilson says, “They might form a disordered state, but it’s more of a frozen, or static, disordered state than it is a dynamic quantum state.

“So, if I have a magnetic system that doesn’t order at the lowest temperatures I can measure, it can be tricky trying to understand whether what I’m measuring is an intrinsic quantum spin liquid fluctuating type of state or a frozen, extrinsic, chemically driven disordered state. That is always debated.”

Among the most interesting findings about this new material, Wilson said, is that even at the lowest measurable temperature — .005 degree Centigrade above absolute zero — it still doesn’t order.

“However, in this material we can also apply a magnetic field, which breaks this competition engendered by magnetic frustration, and then we can drive it to order, inducing a special kind of antiferromagnetic state,” he added. “The reason that’s important is because this special state is very delicate and a very good fingerprint for how much chemical disorder there is in the system and its influence on the magnetic ground state. The fact that we can drive this field-driven state tells us that the disordered state we see at low temperature with zero magnetic field is indeed an intrinsically quantum disordered state, consistent with being a quantum spin liquid state.”

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