Physics and Astronomy

This area deals with the fundamental laws and building blocks of nature and how they interact, the properties and the behavior of matter, and research into space and time and their structures.

innovations-report provides in-depth reports and articles on subjects such as astrophysics, laser technologies, nuclear, quantum, particle and solid-state physics, nanotechnologies, planetary research and findings (Mars, Venus) and developments related to the Hubble Telescope.

Laser beams help take the twinkle out of starlight

If you have ever peered down a highway on a sunny day, you have probably seen the rising, wavelike ripples of heated air that distort the appearance of objects near the horizon. Similar disturbances in the atmosphere above us make stars twinkle as their light is distorted on the way down to Earth.

Although twinkling stars inspired a well-known nursery rhyme, the effect hampers astronomers’ attempts to study the heavens. Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are now build

Mars Express has the sophisticated science to find the water ice on Mars

“The presence of such a large amount of water ice under Mars`s surface is very surprising. Especially so close to the surface!” says Gerhard Schwehm, Head of the Planetary Missions Division at ESA. The team working on ESA`s Mars Express, the next mission to the Red Planet, is thrilled by NASA`s Mars Odyssey detection of hydrogen-rich layers under the Martian surface. This hydrogen indicates the presence of water ice in the top surface of the Martian soil in a large region surrounding the planet`s so

Is life the rule or the exception? The answer may be in the interstellar clouds

Is life a highly improbable event, or is it rather the inevitable consequence of a rich chemical soup available everywhere in the cosmos? Scientists have recently found new evidence that amino acids, the `building-blocks` of life, can form not only in comets and asteroids, but also in the interstellar space. This result is consistent with (although of course does not prove) the theory that the main ingredients for life came from outer space, and therefore that chemical processes leading to life are l

Mars Odyssey’s Measurements Reveal a Wet, Red Planet

Dry valleys, channels, and networks of gullies scar the arid Martian landscape. Along with other evidence, these physical vestiges of conditions on ancient Mars suggest a planet once saturated with liquid water. Where is this water now? Scientists have posited that a portion of it evaporated into the atmosphere, but that the rest lies beneath the surface. Findings announced today offer the strongest support yet to that hypothesis: according to new data, large deposits of water ice may in fact exist u

Lift off for Eddington Mission to look inside the stars and search for planets like Earth

“It is not too much to hope that in the not too distant future we shall be competent to understand so simple a thing as a star” (Arthur Eddington 1926)

Following a press conference this morning (Monday 27 May 2002) in Paris, the European Space Agency confirmed the establishment of the Eddington Mission as part of its new Science programme. Astronomers, led by Professor Ian Roxburgh of Queen Mary, University of London, proposed the mission in 2000, and the Eddington Satellite is to be

Physicist Drops Work Experience Kids into a 4 Dimensional Hypercube

When you are sent to do a bit of work experience in the office of a university science department you don’t normally expect much more than a bit of boring filing and some tedious photocopying. So those that turned up to the University of Warwick’s Physics department recently were a bit shocked to be taken to a small black room and dropped into a virtual reality four dimensional hypercube.

Instead of dreary photocopying the work experience kids were used to help University of Warwick physicis

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