Physical Sciences

Discovering perfect squares and building square roots

Mathematicians have been faced with the problem of finding perfect squares and their roots since ancient times. Recent findings in computational number theory have enabled the development of efficient algorithms for discovering square numbers. Professor Philip Brown from the Department of Foundational Sciences (Mathematics) at Texas A&M University Galveston Campus has developed a new algorithm that can detect a perfect […]

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Physical Sciences

This polymer hardens as it heats up

Dr Takayuki Nonoyama, Assistant Professor of the Faculty of Advanced Life Science at Hokkaido University, has made a polymer material with a rather strange property: at room temperature, it is rubbery, and at higher temperatures it solidifies. Cool it back down, and it becomes rubbery again. To create a material which exhibits this counter-intuitive behaviour, Nonoyama took inspiration from the proteins in […]

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Physical Sciences

Deconstructing spookiness:
Emergent Quantum Mechanics explains the quantum world

From tunnelling to entanglement, the world of quantum mechanics describes a diverse array of seemingly bizarre behaviours which only emerge on the very smallest of scales. Yet Professor Theo van Holten at the Delft University of Technology believes that the physics required to describe quantum systems may not need to be nearly as exotic as many physicists currently believe. Through […]

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Physical Sciences

Uncovering the underlying geometrical structure for an extension of the theory of electroweak interaction and the Dark Matter problem

Describing the behaviour of all fundamental particles and forces as we know them, the Standard Model has held up to every experiment physicists have undertaken to date. Frustratingly, however, the theory remains far from complete. Dr Joachim Herrmann at the Max Born Institute in Berlin suggests the tangent bundle as the underlying geometrical structure for an extension of the Standard […]

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Physical Sciences

Sticking together: Another look at chemical bonds and bonding

The making and breaking of bonds lies at the heart of chemical reactions. The ability of atoms to form bonds with each other allows the formation of molecules. It is exactly this formation and breaking of bonds that chemists are trying to master in the lab, as innovative new ways to control chemical bonds make it possible to make novel […]

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Physical Sciences

Improving prospects for polymer surface coatings

Within the automotive light industry, aluminium is evaporated on plastic high gloss reflector surfaces. From a quality point of view and to meet industry standards, this surface must retain its luminance and reflectiveness for 15 years. However, the non-treated metal parts oxidise, meaning that it loses its luminance and reflectiveness. For this reason, it is protected with silicon oxide or […]

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Physical Sciences

Rise of the biological molecular machine

What is the difference between non-living matter and biological life? In biological systems, individual components have specific functions and tasks to perform, much like artificially made machines, but the key difference lies in the complexity. As new experimental techniques have made it possible to delve further into the microscopic world, more questions have arisen as to how single-molecule species work […]

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Physical Sciences

Using physics to explore virus self-assembly

Through decades of research, biologists have determined that under the right conditions, viruses can assemble themselves from their constituent proteins. So far, however, many of the precise characteristics of this process have eluded researchers. Dr Guillaume Tresset at Université Paris-Saclay aims to fill these gaps in our knowledge through experiments that measure how x-rays are scattered by self-assembling viruses. His […]

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Physical Sciences

Ultrafast electron microscopy Reinventing femtosecond atomic-scale imaging

Transmission electron microscopy may have brought about some of the most cutting-edge research into materials physics, but the technique doesn’t come without its limitations. In his research, Dr Jinfeng Yang at Osaka University in Japan aims to further improve the capabilities of the most powerful microscopes ever made, by accelerating the pulsed beams of electrons they produce to relativistic speeds. Through several […]

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Physical Sciences

The serendipitous discovery of a new green chemistry method

Dr Petri Turhanen was working on a synthesis of a modified version of the biological molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP), when he discovered that the cation exchange resin he was using was unintentionally producing another molecule. Closer investigation revealed that the molecule had been iodinated, meaning an iodine atom had been added. This specific reaction is challenging to perform using current […]

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