Physical Sciences

A biochemical device To demystify a century-old thermodynamics puzzle from theoretical physics

Maxwell’s demon and Szilard’s engine – thought experiments from the 19th and early 20th centuries – have long captured the imagination of theoretical physicists. Many still disagree about the interpretation of these ideas, the implications for the second law of thermodynamics and the consequences for thermodynamics of computation. Along with collaborators, Dr Thomas Ouldridge at Imperial College London has designed […]

Read More…

Physical Sciences

Air pollution monitoring and its role in public health

Air pollution monitoring is an important factor in air quality management. Both established long-term monitoring stations and short-term seasonal atmospheric field measurements are required to understand how atmospheric chemistry changes in response to air pollution regulation. Professor Schwab and his team from the University at Albany maintain long-term rural monitoring stations as well as highly specific mobile air pollution measurements […]

Read More…

Physical Sciences

The not-so-constant presence of Dark Energy

The accelerated expansion of the universe has remained one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in physics for over a century. In his research, Dr Yoshihisa Kitazawa at the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization in Japan proposes an idea that could unify the mysterious driving force of this acceleration with the principles of quantum mechanics. If his line of reasoning is […]

Read More…

Physical Sciences

Modern techniques for analysing solar activity

After studying the Sun’s activity for many centuries, astronomers are well aware that its magnetic field changes over faithfully repeating cycles. So far, however, they haven’t figured out why. Dr Yusuke Iida at Niigata University, Japan believes that new strides towards a solution to the mystery could be made by moving away from purely theoretical models. Through a combination of […]

Read More…

Physical Sciences

Electrode modification techniques for organic electronics

Traditionally, wires and circuitry have been made from conductive metals and inorganic semiconductors such as silicon that allow the controlled flow of charge between one component and another. However, now it is possible to make such circuits on truly miniature scales using organic molecules, i.e., materials mostly made up of carbon. Professor Dr Gregor Witte, Dr Alrun Hauke, Felix Widdascheck […]

Read More…

Physical Sciences

The origin of life: The conditions that sparked life on Earth

The origin of life on Earth has been a long-debated issue. There have been many theories as to how life evolved, but Professors Shigenori Maruyama (ELSI, Tokyo Institute of Technology), Ken Kurokawa (National Institute of Genetics), and Dr Toshikazu Ebisuzaki (RIKEN) have found a way to narrow the field to a single likely theory. By identifying a list of nine […]

Read More…

Physical Sciences

Mechanisms of motion: Combining physical biology and numerical models

Eukaryotic cells are capable of migrating in response to external stimuli, moving towards a more favourable environment or during processes like wound healing and embryonic development. The mechanisms by which cells migrate is highly complex and often tightly coordinated. Combining mathematical models and theories with physical biology experiments, Dr Tetsuya Hiraiwa, a fellow at the Mechanobiology Institute at the National […]

Read More…

Physical Sciences

Unifying quantum mechanics with Einstein’s general relativity

The quantum nature of gravity is an enigma which has eluded even the brightest of physicists for many decades. Now, Dr Norma G. Sanchez at the French CNRS LERMA Observatory of Paris-PSL Sorbonne Université describes a possible solution. Her approach takes the form of a general theory, incorporating both quantum mechanics and Einstein’s theory of general relativity. If correct, her […]

Read More…

Physical Sciences

Insights into the complex world of amorphous solids

Solid materials come in many different varieties, from highly rigid, ordered crystalline materials to the more slippery, irregular world of amorphous solids. While we have good theories for understanding the properties and behaviour of crystalline materials, the disorder in the structure of amorphous solids makes their fundamental physics complicated to understand. However, Professor Hideyuki Mizuno at the University of Tokyo […]

Read More…

Physical Sciences

Smart tests of intumescent coatings for thermal insulation

Intumescent coatings are a crucial component of many thermal insulation systems, but until now, researchers have faced significant challenges in testing their responses to heat. In his research, Dr Jiyuan Kang at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio has developed sophisticated new methods for imaging the materials during heating; revealing their responses to fires in unprecedented levels of detail. By […]

Read More…