Physical Sciences

NUMEN Project: Exploring key aspects of neutrinoless double beta decay by nuclear reactions

The Standard Model of particle physics may represent our most advanced understanding yet of the universe’s fundamental building blocks, but many physicists believe it is incomplete. One of the most enticing prospects for updating the model lies with ‘neutrino-less double beta decay’ – a process which has been theorised for many decades, but has yet to be observed. Professor Francesco Cappuzzello […]

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Physical Sciences

Refining the search for the largest gravitational waves

Ask many astronomers, and they will tell you that gravitational waves are the greatest scientific discovery of the 21st century so far. In his research, Miguel Holgado at the University of Illinois studies the clever astronomical techniques which can be used to observe the very largest of these elusive ripples, originating from supermassive black holes as they orbit around each […]

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Physical Sciences

The mathematics of life:
Metabolic control in living cells

Cellular metabolism is a complex network of chemical processes that convert nutrients into energy and molecules for survival. Advances in experimental and mathematical techniques are paving the way for quantitative descriptions of how metabolism regulates itself and of how it can be artificially controlled for biotechnology. Dr Diego A. Oyarzún (University of Edinburgh) uses computational models to understand metabolism, and to […]

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Physical Sciences

Reconstructing astronomical images with machine learning

Much of what we know about how our universe works has been learnt by analysing the astronomical signals captured from the sky. However, these signals will inevitably have some noise associated with them – so how can astronomers be sure that their observations of strange, unexpected signals reflect reality? Edward Higson at the University of Cambridge and his colleagues have […]

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Physical Sciences

Akatsuki: Pioneering the planetary meteorology of Venus

Venus may be the closest known planet to Earth in both size and distance from the Sun, but the atmosphere of our nearest neighbour is so thick that much of its dynamics remain shrouded in mystery. Professor Takehiko Satoh at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is exploring the Venusian atmosphere. His research utilises the orbiting probe, Akatsuki. Named after […]

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Physical Sciences

Sustainable water purification using biomass

Nanoscale cellulose materials obtained from the chemical treatment of biomass are very effective agents for the removal of toxic species from water, including heavy metal ions. Professor Benjamin S. Hsiao and his collaborators at Stony Brook University have developed a simple, inexpensive and environmentally friendly approach to preparing nanostructured cellulose for water purification, based on a nitro-oxidation reaction carried out […]

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Physical Sciences

François Viète’s revolution in algebra

François Viète is considered by many historians to be the founder of modern algebra, but his work has not received the academic attention it deserves. Professor Jeffrey Oaks from the University of Indianapolis seeks to redress this imbalance. Through his study of Medieval and Renaissance mathematics, Professor Oaks shows how Viète reestablished algebra on a geometrical foundation; and in the process […]

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Physical Sciences

Generalising the entropy formula through master equations

Entropy is one of the most important and most widely studied quantities in physics, and for centuries, its value has been robustly described using simple mathematical relationships. Yet however elegant, Tamás Biró at the Hungarian Academy of Science believes the formula is hiding a more complex array of relationships. Through constructing ‘master equations’ to describe these relationships, Biró and his colleagues […]

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Physical Sciences

NMR2: A highly accurate approach to protein-ligand binding

A novel method to determine accurately and efficiently the structure of the receptor binding sites in protein-ligand complexes promises to revolutionize drug discovery. Dr Julien Orts and his collaborators at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology are developing a powerful and general technique, based on liquid nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), to shed light on the details of how proteins interact […]

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