Physics

Sam Vennin is a biomechanical engineer research fellow at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Biomedical Research Centre and King’s College London, UK. This post is part of a series on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the personal and professional lives of physicists around the world. If you’d like to share your own perspective, please contact
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Charles Curry is a research associate at the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium at the University of Victoria in Canada. This post is part of a series on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the personal and professional lives of physicists around the world. If you’d like to share your own perspective, please contact us at pwld@ioppublishing.org. 
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“Bacteria always find new ways to manipulate their environment to protect themselves,” says Harshitha Kotian, a PhD candidate at the Indian Institute of Science. Like many physics students, Kotian once thought research on bacteria and antibiotics should be left to the biologists and chemists. Now she’s part of an interdisciplinary research team that recently uncovered
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Most of the time science appears in the media – including in this podcast – the focus is on the scientific results. Rightly so, as scientific research consistently delivers inspiring breakthroughs. But this type of coverage can present an idealised version of science. Researchers are presented as dispassionate beings working together seamlessly to uncover the
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Seyedamir Tavakoli Taba from the University of Sydney is investigating the use of propagation-based phase-contrast CT for breast cancer diagnosis. Propagation-based phase-contrast CT (PB-CT) is an advanced X-ray imaging technology that can generate higher quality diagnostic breast images than absorption-based CT (AB-CT), at a glandular radiation dose comparable to, or lower than, conventional mammography and
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Forward thinker: physicist Philip Anderson made a vital contribution to our understanding of how electrons move in solids. (Courtesy: P W Anderson via Wikimedia Commons) The US condensed-matter physicist Philip Warren Anderson died yesterday aged 96. One of the most celebrated condensed-matter physicists of his generation, Anderson’s theoretical research into the electronic structure of magnetic
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Formation of defect-pairs in GaN under high-energy particle irradiation. Courtesy: S Chen Gallium nitride (GaN) is the world’s second-favourite semiconductor, present in devices ranging from light-emitting diodes and photodetectors to high-temperature electron mobility transistors. When these devices are exposed to irradiation from high-energy particles – as they often are in fields such as satellite communications,
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Joanne O’Meara is a professor and second year coordinator at the University of Guelph in Canada This post is part of a series on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the personal and professional lives of physicists around the world. If you’d like to share your own perspective, please contact us at pwld@ioppublishing.org.  Video shoot: Joanne
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Until something disrupts the rhythm of life (or you’re in the car with a five-year-old), most of us don’t stop to analyze why things are the way they are. We’re too busy navigating life to step back and ponder our reality. But let’s try it for a few minutes. Photo by Mike Kononov on Unsplash. We live in
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A new type of nanoelectromechanical relay for reliable high-temperature, non-volatile memory. Courtesy: Dinesh Pamunuwa A new type of relay that retains its state even when the power is switched off could be used to make a reliable high-temperature non-volatile digital memory. The device, developed by researchers at the University of Bristol in the UK, could
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Taken from the March 2020 issue of Physics World. Members of the Institute of Physics can enjoy the full issue via the Physics World app. (Courtesy: Priyamvada Natarajan) What skills do you use every day in your job? My research revolves around building testable physical models of cosmic phenomena that are guided by current observational data,
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Geyser-free zone: Zihua Zhu prepares his lithium-ion battery for in situ liquid secondary ion mass spectrometry. (Courtesy:Andrea Starr/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) What happens in a lithium-ion battery when it first starts running? A complex series of events, it turns out – from electrolytic ion reorganization to a riot of chemical reactions. To explore this early
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The future of clothing is electronic. Along with color and size, you’ll probably be able to choose clothes based on what they do—as determined by the sensors, indicators, and power sources embedded within them. Many researchers expect that such “smart clothing” will revolutionize at least some aspects of medicine and fashion. But in the age
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Non-learner: the white-tipped plantcutter. (Courtesy: Allan Drewitt/ CC BY 2.5) The characteristics of the white-tipped plantcutter’s song are directly linked to its body size, a new study shows. A team of physicists and ornithologists in Argentina and Germany, including Gonzalo Uribarri at the University of Buenos Aires, discovered the relationship through a detailed analysis of
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Sensing from the inside. A mock-up of an ingestible pill containing the wireless transceiver. (Courtesy: Imec) Researchers at Imec, a Leuven, Belgium-based centre for nanoelectronics and digital technologies, have developed a wireless receiver and transmitter small enough to fit inside a millimetre-scale capsule. The transceiver, which was presented at the International Solid-State Circuits conference in
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Taken from the March 2020 issue of Physics World. Members of the Institute of Physics can enjoy the full issue via the Physics World app. Is “biodynamic wine” is stuff or nonsense? In this article (originally published in Lateral Thoughts, Physics World’s regular column of humorous and offbeat essays, puzzles, crosswords, quizzes and comics, which
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© AuntMinnieEurope.com An artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm can provide fully automated quantification of emphysema, offering potential as a tool for image-based diagnosis and quantification of emphysema severity, according to research published in the American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR 10.2214/AJR.19.21572). After testing prototype AI software on over 140 patients, a multinational team of researchers found that
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Caught in a trap: Honeywell says it will soon be releasing a powerful new quantum computer. (Courtesy: Honeywell) Honeywell says that it will release the world’s most powerful commercial quantum computer by mid-2020. The US-based manufacturer of scientific and commercial equipment says that the device is based on trapped ions, which is a different technology
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Dressing up: physicists have studied “The Portrait of FP Makerovsky in a Masquerade Costume” by Dmitry Levitsky (Courtesy: Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology) Physicists at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology along with colleagues at the Kurnakov Institute of General and Inorganic Chemistry and the Tretyakov Gallery have solved a longstanding mystery surrounding
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The novel coronavirus responsible for the current pandemic has only been known for a few months but scientists have already gained a vast amount of information about it. Some of this knowledge has been gained by structural biologists who use techniques first developed by physicists. In this podcast episode, the science journalist Jon Cartwright explains
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Left, a tissue sample dyed by traditional methods. Centre, a computed stain created from infrared–optical hybrid imaging. Right, tissue types identified with infrared data; the pink in this image signifies malignant cancer. (Courtesy: Rohit Bhargava, University of Illinois) A novel hybrid microscope delivers the same information as standard optical microscopy without the need for detrimental
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[embedded content] The stiffness of the human foot is strongly influenced by an arch that spans its width, a new study suggests. An international research team, led by Madhusudhan Venkadesan at Yale University in the US, came to this conclusion by doing simulations and experiments of the physical mechanisms underlying the foot’s transverse tarsal arch
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Expert assembly: cryogenic systems from Bluefors have been engineered in a modular system that now offers the option of high-density wiring. Researchers attempting to build the next generation of quantum computers are pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved with current experimental technologies. One of the challenges is testing the behaviour of a complex
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Rings in transit An artist’s conception of a ringed planet transiting in front of its host star. Astronomers used models of such events to constrain which of the known “super-puff” exoplanets could have rings. Courtesy: Robin Dienel/Carnegie Institution for Science The apparent “puffiness” of some exoplanets could be due to Saturn-like rings, rather than envelopes
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Micro-lens machinists: Polina Medvedskaya and Ivan Lyatun. (Courtesy: Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University) An international team of researchers has produced a stack of diamond micro-lenses precise enough to be compatible with the latest generation of X-ray sources. Physicists led by Polina Medvedskaya at Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University in Russia developed the intricate structures using
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An artist’s impression of the ExoMars rover on the surface of Mars. (Courtesy: ESA/ATG medialab) Europe’s Rosalind Franklin rover, which was set to begin its journey to Mars this summer, has had its launch postponed until 2022 amid parachute and electronics difficulties and uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The joint mission between the European
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Salad days: Astronaut Steve Swanson harvests some of the first crop of space lettuce in June 2014 (Courtesy: NASA) Some readers may be secretly pleased that conference cancellations have spared them the arduous task of presenting their results at a scientific meeting. Many of us have finished talks feeling like we’ve spent a few rounds
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A snapshot of the reconstructed 3D magnetic structure. Credit: Claire Donnelly Vortices, domain walls and other magnetic phenomena behave in complex and dynamic ways, but limitations in imaging technology have so far kept researchers from observing them in more than two dimensions. Scientists in the UK and Switzerland have now found a way around this
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(Image courtesy: Shutterstock/orhan-cam) The American Physical Society’s April Meeting has become the latest event in the scientific calendar to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The annual particle-physics gathering, which was scheduled to take place in Washington, DC, on 18-21 April, has been called off, with organizers working to set up an online “virtual”
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Harald Paganetti, Abdelkhalek Hammi and Clemens Grassberger (left to right) have modelled the dose to circulating blood during radiotherapy. (Courtesy: Abdelkhalek Hammi) Radiation is known to be damaging to the immune system, with recent studies linking radiation-induced lymphopenia (loss of lymphocytes, the white blood cells associated with immune response) with poor survival after radiotherapy. To
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Optical micrograph of the inside of a luminescent substrate. Image: Cecile Chazot Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a new dark-field imaging technique that does not require specialized microscope components. The technique, dubbed “substrate luminescence-enabled dark-field imaging” (SLED), involves adding a mirrored substrate to the sample stage of a standard optical
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Taken from the March 2020 issue of Physics World. Members of the Institute of Physics can enjoy the full issue via the Physics World app. The terahertz range has been barely exploited compared to the rest of the electromagnetic spectrum. But as Sidney Perkowitz argues, our ability to detect radiation at these wavelengths has proved
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