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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Physical Sciences

Exploring the origins of life with autocatalytic sets

How did we get here? This question has plagued philosophers, scientists and individuals alike for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Evolved species, such as humans, are incredibly complex systems, even down to the microscopic cellular level, and understanding our own origins of life and how our DNA came to be what we know today is a challenging question. The […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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