Physical Sciences

Directed Panspermia: Synthetic DNA in bioforming planets

As our technological advancements continue, scientists are beginning to turn what was science fiction into reality. Concepts such as terraforming and travel between stars are becoming more achievable, giving life to the dream that one day we might colonise other planets. Directed panspermia is one method of altering a hostile, uninhabited planet to a more Earth-like environment, and Cork Institute […]

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Physical Sciences

Industrial-Academic collaboration: The key for C-H bond activation

A very hot and current scientific topic is the synthesis of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), the burning question being “how can we make API synthesis efficient?”. A big step towards the answer was taken by Dr Guillaume Journot, senior scientist at Servier, France, and Dr Jean-François Brière, a CNRS senior research scientist at COBRA laboratory in Rouen, France. They proved […]

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Physical Sciences

Amino acids bombarded with ionising radiation – what breaks first?

Ionising radiation, including high-energy electrons, is usually something best avoided. However, nuclear accidents and even medical tools mean that human tissue is occasionally exposed to it. After the ‘Atomic Age’ of the mid-1900s, understanding the effect of radiation on the human body has been recognised as of paramount importance. Dr Jelena Tamuliene’s most recent research at Vilnius University is into […]

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Physical Sciences

Tracking changing shapes in falling raindrops

Raindrops can adopt remarkably similar shapes, sizes and movements as they fall to the ground, but so far, our understanding of their behaviour has remained far from complete. Through her research, Dr Merhala Thurai at Colorado State University uses innovative techniques to learn more about what happens as they fall, particularly during stormy weather. Her team’s work offers important new […]

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Physical Sciences

An introduction to the information dimension

The difficulty of defining the true nature of information has sparked a rich, seemingly unending variety of questions over the past centuries; from the nature of the human soul to whether artificial intelligence can gain consciousness. Now Daniel Boyd, an independent researcher in the Netherlands, believes that these problems could be solved if we view information as a substance residing […]

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Physical Sciences

A trick of the light: Discovering Dark-Bright and Anti-Dark-Bright Solitons

Light has many incredible properties. They range from its strange duality of behaviour, acting either as a wave or a particle, to demonstrating incredible nonlinear effects that can be exploited with laser and optical technologies. One such property is the ability of light waves to form solitons when they pass through materials like optical fibres. Solitons, or solitary waves, occur […]

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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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