Disharmony in the desert
Most controversies in science focus on the big questions of our existence - like the nature of matter or the fate of the Universe. But passions can run just as deep in more down-to-earth subjects too. Physics World this month reveals the remarkable story of physicists battling to understand the puzzle of "singing sand dunes" - the strange low-frequency sounds emitted by nothing more than piles of sand in the desert. The two physicists at the heart of the dispute have both come up with different explanations for the sounds, which were first reported by Marco Polo and other travellers some 700 years ago. But their rivalry has become so intense they can no longer bear to work in the same laboratory. (p25).
The doctorate in transition
The PhD used to be seen as the gold standard of scientific education, in which bright young students mastered the art of research through an intensive, three-year project. But the once-vaunted degree is now under pressure as universities - keen to draw in hefty fees and secure lucrative grants - seek to churn out to churn out ever more numbers of doctorates. Even the financial field is desperate for PhD physicists to carry out advanced data analysis and modelling tasks. John McInerney - head of physics at University College Cork - calls for the PhD to be revamped. He wants it to be extended to a minimum of four years so that students have time for a solid piece of research and can also be pick up essential project-management, business and financial skills. (p. 14)
Also in this issue:- Phil Anderson: against reductionism
Dianne Stilwell | alfa
Studying fundamental particles in materials
17.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Struktur und Dynamik der Materie
Seeing the quantum future... literally
16.01.2017 | University of Sydney
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences
17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction