Physical Sciences

Cascading energy: Explaining fluctuations in the solar wind

Originating from the dynamic upper reaches of the Sun’s atmosphere, the influence of solar wind can be felt throughout the solar system. We sat down with Dr Charles Smith at the University of New Hampshire to discuss how the latest theories of fluid dynamics, combined with observations from spacecraft missions, can help us to understand turbulence in the interplanetary plasma. […]

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Physical Sciences

How geometry expresses the Second Law of Thermodynamics

Physicists have long struggled to explain how the inevitable increase in the universe’s entropy can be reconciled with the reversible laws of quantum mechanics. Now, Professor Chris Jeynes at the University of Surrey Ion Beam Centre, UK, believes he has found a solution in geometry. This new geometrical thermodynamics shows how the stability in time of structures as diverse as […]

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Physical Sciences

Cameleer: A deductive verification tool for OCaml

From social networking to space exploration, software is the mainstay that keeps our world operating. But how do we know that we can trust software? Dr Mário Pereira from the Nova School of Science and Technology, Lisbon, and his collaborators have developed Cameleer, a formal verification software tool for OCaml-written code that establishes mathematical proof that a system works according […]

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Physical Sciences

Reality, information, and consciousness: The universe as a cosmic quantum computer

How does the world around us work, and what is real? Such questions are not only central to scientific and philosophical discourse but have been circulating since the dawn of human existence. Peter Verheyen of the Sola Society and Academy at Vienna University, Austria, explores the notion that the conscious reality we experience as human beings is drawn from the […]

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Physical Sciences

A novel micro-valve for use in reliable small-scale thrusters

The changing shapes of liquid droplets on charged solid surfaces have been widely studied for decades – but only recently have physicists begun to explore how this ‘electrowetting’ behaviour can be enhanced through the use of salts in their liquid states. In their research, Professor Weizong Wang and Mr Jinrui Zhang at Beihang University, Beijing, China, have exploited this effect […]

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Physical Sciences

DNA molecular scissors as new cancer chemotherapeutics

The discovery of efficient new metallodrugs with minimal side effects is urgently needed in cancer medicine. Associate Professor Andrew Kellett and Dr Creina Slator, Dublin City University, Ireland, have employed ‘click chemistry’ to generate new copper DNA molecular scissors with anticancer and gene editing properties. Their molecules have coordinated metal centres and mimic the action of natural products that cause […]

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Physical Sciences

EvoSphere: A system where robots can physically evolve

While the field of robotics has made many exciting advances in recent years, designs of new robots are still generally being conceived by human engineers. Inspired by the evolution of organisms in nature, Professor A E Eiben at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, in The Netherlands, aims to show how robot designs may not need to be constrained in this way. Instead, they could […]

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Physical Sciences

Showcasing the potential for macroscopically aligned carbon nanotubes

Carbon nanotubes are already widely known for their potential uses across a broad range of technologies. So far, however, their marvellous one-dimensional properties have been proven only at microscopic levels, hindering progress toward real-world applications. Natsumi Komatsu from the laboratory of Professor Junichiro Kono at Rice University, Houston, shows how macroscopic alignment can be achieved in thin films and fibres, […]

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Physical Sciences

The Future Circular Collider: Its potential and lessons learnt from the LEP and LHC experiments

As researchers seek to learn more about the fundamental nature of our universe, new generations of particle accelerators are now in development in which beams of particles collide ever more precisely and at ever higher energies. Professor Stephen Myers, former Director of Accelerators & Technology at CERN and currently Executive Chair of ADAM SA, identifies both the positive and negative […]

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Physical Sciences

Presenting a case for molecular scales in atmospheric models

Modelling Earth’s atmosphere is a monumentally difficult task, and atmospheric scientists have long faced challenges in accurately recreating the large-scale processes they observe in real life. Dr Adrian Tuck, a retired former visiting professor at Imperial College London, proposes that models could be improved by accounting for processes which take place on molecular scales. Through a better explanation of the […]

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