News / Highlights / Colloquium
- Published on 17 September 2018
Will the oceans be clean again? - How to search for and identify microplastics in the marine environment using digital holography.
In recent years the pollution of soil and oceans has drastically increased, affecting the food chain and consequently causing damage to plant life, contaminating fauna and damaging human health.
Among the major contaminants, microplastics play a relevant role and even though several techniques have been proposed to analyse the presence of such material in water, the overall data are largely incomplete. A group of Italian researchers (F. Merola et al.) have proposed using a non-invasive technique based on digital holography to search for and reconstruct the shape of different types of microplastics in water.
They report in the European Physical Journal Plus (EPJ Plus) how it is possible to identify different fragments of the most used types of plastic (such as PET, PVC, PP, PE and PS), which heavily contaminate the seas, and how this high-resolution technique is able to distinguish plastics from organisms such as diatoms, a major group of microalgae living in the marine environment.
- Published on 05 September 2018
Complexity, as far as information theory is concerned, plays an important role in extracting the amount of uncertainty in dynamics. Several entropy-based measurements have been successfully implemented to quantify the divergence of a system. Uncertainty also plays an effective role, in the field of cryptography, in generating secret keys and to design the most secure model. Recently, real applications have been implemented considering the effect of dynamical complexity, in the field of optical communications, using semiconductor lasers. This EPJ Plus Focus Point edited by Santo Banerjee is a collection of research articles based on the recent developments of communication schemes using chaos and dynamical complexity. The results have been implemented with dynamical models, circuit design, complex networks along with their applications in image, video and optical communications.
EPJ Plus Focus Point - Modelling Complex Real-World Problems with Fractal and New Trends of Fractional Differentiation
- Published on 14 August 2018
Differential operators with non-singular kernels have been suggested recently and have raised interest in many fields of science, technology and engineering. They have being recognized to have brought news tools in applied mathematics and other applied sciences, as they are able to capture and observe a more complex physical behavior of nature. One of their unique properties is crossover behavior; in particular, their ability to capture Brownian motion, stochastic processes, anomalous diffusion and power-law dependency processes. This Focus Point on Modelling Complex Real-World Problems with Fractal and New Trends of Fractional Differentiation edited by A. Atangana, Z. Hammouch, G. Mophou and K. M. Owolabi in EPJ Plus aims at capturing current developments and initiatives of these new mathematical tools in modeling real-world problems. It focuses on new numerical and analytical methods for solving the complex real-world problems arising in physics. Several new results were presented and published in this Focus Point. In particular, a revolutionary paper has led to the extension of the field of non-local operators and their applications. The particular attention devoted to these new mathematical tools leaves no doubt on the fact that the future of modeling real-worl problems relies on these operators.
- Published on 24 July 2018
Dr Valerio Lucarini, professor of Statistical Mechanics at the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Reading https://www.reading.ac.uk/maths-and-stats/, and director of the Mathematics for Planet Earth Centre https://www.reading.ac.uk/maths-and-stats/research/mathematics-of-planet-earth/Centre-for-the-Mathematics-of-Planet-Earth.aspx was one of 6 winners of the Whitehead Prize announced on 29th June 2018 by the London Mathematical Society (LMS), and was awarded with this prize for his work in statistical physics to the theory and modelling of climate dynamics, along with his pioneering leadership in mathematics applied to climate science.
- Published on 11 July 2018
A new study reveals how to best evaluate the circulation of magnetic fields around closed loops
Concerns about the effects of magnetic fields on human health require careful monitoring of our exposure to them. Mandatory exposure limits have been defined for electric and hybrid vehicle architectures, in domestic and work environments, or simply to shelter sensitive devices from unintended sources of magnetic disturbance. In a new study published in EPJ Plus, physicists Jose Manuel Ferreira and Joaquim Anacleto from the Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro University in Portugal develop a method for deriving an approximate value of the circulation around a loop of the magnetic field generated by the flow of electric current in an arbitrarily-shaped wire of a given length.
- Published on 14 June 2018
New model examines the relative role of random interactions between individuals in a crowd compared to interactions stemming from their eagerness to be on their way
Ever found yourself crushed in a metro station at rush hour? The mathematician Carlo Bianca and physicist Caterina Mogno, both from the engineering research lab ECAM-EPMI in Cergy-Pontoise, France, have developed a new model to study the movement of crowds exiting a metro station. In a recent study published in EPJ Plus, they have for the first time employed models typically used to study gases consisting of a large number of molecules that collide at random (known as thermostatted kinetic theory) to study the consequences of the different interactions occurring among pedestrians in a crowd while exiting a metro station.
- Published on 07 March 2018
The “Focus Point on the Transition to Sustainable Energy Systems” in the European Physical Journal Plus (EPJ Plus) tries to answer central questions regarding the planned Energy Transition, focusing on the power sector in Europe. Important is the role played by intermittent renewables as a low carbon electricity source, central in the plans by the EU Commission in its Energy Roadmap 2050. Their intermittency however strongly reduces efficiency and security of supply and back up by other systems is unavoidable – large storage and/or nuclear and/or fossil based. Storage of excess electricity production by intermittent renewables at the level required seems far-fetched at this moment and much more research will be needed before this can substantially contribute. With a limited contribution of dispatchable renewable electricity (hydro, bio-fuels etc.) and excluding à priori nuclear power, on various grounds, a continued use of fossil fuels imposes itself to guarantee a secured supply of electricity – in strong contrast with the original aims of the EU Energy Roadmap 2050. A rational debate involving all options is urgently needed and it is hoped that the set of papers in this focus point can contribute to improve insights in a determining factor for the future of our children and grandchildren.
EPJ Plus Highlight - Laser-ranged satellite measurement now accurately reflects Earth's tidal perturbations
- Published on 14 February 2018
The most precise ever laser satellite measurement method provides new clues to relativity
Tides on Earth have a far-reaching influence, including disturbing satellites’ measurements by affecting their motion. This disturbance can be studied using a model for the gravitational potential of the Earth, taking into account the fact that Earth’s shape is not spherical. The LAser RElativity Satellite (LARES), is the best ever relevant test particle to move in the Earth’s gravitational field. In a new study published in EPJ Plus, LARES proves its efficiency for high-precision probing of General Relativity and fundamental physics. By studying the Earth’s tidal perturbations acting on the LARES, Vahe Gurzadyan from the Center for Cosmology and Astrophysics at Yerevan State University, Armenia, and colleagues demonstrate the value of laser-range satellites for high-precision measurements.
- Published on 13 February 2018
The papers published in this Focus Point evidence the broad range of interests pursued by the Italian community active in the field of Planetary Sciences.
Although this selection of papers can by no means be considered to exhaustively represent the fields of interest of the community, many points of interests and activities are included, from PI activitities in Planetary Space Missions, both from ESA and NASA programmes (such as Bepi Colombo and Juno) to the study of physical and dynamical properties of minor bodies to the geological study of planetary surfaces to the study of atmospheres to cosmogeophysical studies of meteorites.
The Italian Research Institutes, Observatories and Universities hosting research groups active in Planetary Sciences are based in different regional locations on the Italian territory as also shown by the selection of articles published in this Focus Point, and are evidence of a growing interest of the Astrophysical Community in Planetary Sciences and of a rapid growth in the number of topics investigated and in the number of scientists involved.
- Published on 21 December 2017
New study shows that two seemingly diverging theories of ever-increasing disorder, known as entropy, can be tested against each other experimentally in the smallest possible systems
Have you ever tried turning the spoon back after stirring jam into a rice pudding? It never brings the jam back into the spoon. This ever-increasing disorder is linked to a notion called entropy. Entropy is of interest to physicists studying the evolution of systems made up of multiple identical elements, like gas. Yet, how the states in such systems should be counted is a bone of contention. The traditional view developed by one of the fathers of statistical mechanics, Ludwig Boltzmann - who worked on a very large number of elements - is opposed to the seemingly disjointed theoretical perspective of another founding scientists of the discipline, Willard Gibbs, who describes systems with a very small number of elements. In a new study published in EPJ Plus, Loris Ferrari from the University of Bologna, Italy, demystifies this clash between theories by analysing the practical consequences of Gibbs’ definition in two systems of a well-defined size. Ferrari speculates about the possibility that, for certain quantities, the differences resulting from Boltzmann's and Gibbs' approach can be measured experimentally.