News / Highlights / Colloquium
- Published on 24 July 2017
Italian Space Agency presents plans to develop a robotic solar-powered spacecraft capable of displacing a near-Earth asteroid towards lunar orbit for ease of study
Future space exploration aims to fly further from Earth than ever before. Now, Italian Space Agency scientists have expressed an interest in contributing to the development of robotic technologies to bring an asteroid from beyond lunar orbit back into closer reach in order to better study it. In a paper published in EPJ Plus, Marco Tantardini and Enrico Flamini from the Italian Space Agency (ASI) make the case for taking part in the robotic phase of the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM). In addition to taking manned spaceflights deeper into space than ever before, the proposed mission would also bring some benefit for planetary science.
- Published on 05 June 2017
Combining neutron and X-ray imaging gives clues to how ancient weapons were manufactured
Since the 19th century, collectors have become increasingly interested in weapons from ancient Asia and the Middle East. In an attempt to fight forged copies, physicists are now adding their imaging power to better authenticate these weapons; the fakes can't resist the investigative power of X-rays combined with neutron imaging. In a study published in EPJ Plus, an Italian team, working in close collaboration with the Wallace Collection in London and the Neutron Imaging team at the Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin, has demonstrated the usefulness of such a combined imaging approach to help museum curators in their quest to ensure authenticity. Filament Salvemini, currently affiliated with the Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering ACNS at ANSTO in Lucas Heights near Sydney, and colleagues can now reliably tell first-class modern copies of early daggers and swords from authentic ones.
EPJ Plus Focus Point - Status of third-generation synchrotron crystallography beamlines: An overview
- Published on 09 May 2017
Initially motivated by the celebration of the international year of Crystallography in 2014, This EPJ Plus focus point issue presents a coherent collection of papers summarizing the status of third generation synchrotron beamlines devoted to crystallography in most European facilities and in an invited extraeuropean one: 9 papers for 9 facilities. Standard organization of information, emphasis on technical details and design choices, many pictures and schematics, are some of the attractive ingredients offered herein. The reader may find references to more than 50 beamlines available or planned in the close future for crystallography experiments, detailed technical descriptions of 17 beamlines, additional information about complementary aspects such as user access, laboratory support or computational tools and scientific highlights. Last but not least, looking through the papers one may get key hints on the future directions as planned by the different facilities. Altogether, a tool to have a global view of crystallography beamlines in a very significant subset of the worldwide synchrotron network.
The articles are freely accessible until 15 July. For further information read the Editorial
EPJ Plus Highlight - Proving Einstein right using the most sensitive Earth rotation sensors ever made
- Published on 21 April 2017
A new study use the most precise inertial sensor available to date to measure whether Earth partially drags inertial frames along with its rotation
Einstein’s theory of gravity, also referred to as General Relativity, predicts that a rotating body such as the Earth partially drags inertial frames along with its rotation. In a study recently published in EPJ Plus, a group of scientists based in Italy suggests a novel approach to measuring what is referred to as frame dragging. Angela Di Virgilio of the National Institute of Nuclear Physics, INFN, in Pisa, Italy, and her colleagues propose using the most sensitive type of inertial sensors, which incorporate ring lasers as gyroscopes, to measure the absolute rotation rate of the Earth.
- Published on 21 March 2017
Experiment aims at resolving divergence between special relativity and standard model of cosmology
Physics is sometimes closer to philosophy when it comes to understanding the universe. Donald Chang from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, China, attempts to elucidate whether the universe has a resting frame. The results have recently been published in EPJ Plus.
- Published on 27 February 2017
Guest Editors: G. Alimonti, S. Johansson and L. Mariani
After a very long hunting-gathering period, the first agricultural civilizations were born at the end of the last ice age. Agricultural practices generated a surplus of food, which was a prerequisite for the birth of modern societies. During the twentieth century, the modern agriculture was developed and now yields more food than ever before: less than 20% of our global population works to provide the whole mankind with food.
As environmental problems and resource constraints are arising, we now turn to agriculture in the hope for solutions regarding future sustainability. Could agriculture provide us with both food and fuel? Could we contribute to climate change mitigation by letting plants exploit the carbon dioxide that has been accumulated in the atmosphere? There are many promises, and we know that plants are our ultimate companions in life. However, more systemic methods are required to cope with multi-functionality and living systems so that we do not end up causing new problems as we try to cope with those already there.
This EPJ Plus Focus Point addresses the present and historical development of agriculture, perspectives of plant exploitation for food and energy production in a logic of social, economic and environmental sustainability. The articles are freely accessible until 20 April. For further information read the Editorial
EPJ Plus Focus Point - Rewriting Nuclear Physics textbooks: 30 years with radioactive ion beam physics
- Published on 27 February 2017
Guest editors: N. Alamanos, C. Bertulani, A. Bracco, A. Bonaccorso, D. Brink and G. Casini
This collection of articles contains the lectures given at the Summer School "Re-writing Nuclear Physics textbooks: 30 years of radioactive ion beam physics`` which was held at the INFN Sezione di Pisa and Department of Physics of the University of Pisa during the week 20-24 July 2015.
The school celebrated thirty years since the publication of the first papers (I. Tanihata et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 55, (1985) 2676 and P.G. Hansen, B. Jonson, Europhys. Lett. 4, (1987) 409) in which radioactive ion beams (RIBs) were used to study properties of atomic nuclei. The school consisted of twelve lectures published here and freely accessible until 24 April 2017. Each lecture covers a topic contained in a standard Nuclear Physics textbook extended to show how our understanding has deeply changed due to the experience accumulated with RIB physic. The collection is directed mainly to third and fourth year undergraduate students but it could be seen also as an update for teachers of basic Nuclear Physics courses.
For further information read the Editorial here.
- Published on 20 February 2017
New study reveals characteristic of islands of magnetic metals between vacuum gaps, displaying tunnelling electric current
The nanometric-size islands of magnetic metal sporadically spread between vacuum gaps display unique conductive properties under a magnetic field. In a recent study published in EPJ Plus, Anatoliy Chornous from Sumy State University in Ukraine and colleagues found that the vacuum gaps impede the direct magnetic alignment between the adjacent islands - which depends on the external magnetic field - while allowing electron tunneling between them. Such externally controlled conducting behaviour opens the door for applications in electronics with magnetic field sensors - which are used to read data on hard disk drives - biosensors and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), as well as in spintronics with magnetic devices used to increase memory density.
- Published on 20 January 2017
To switch electricity supply from nuclear to wind and solar power is not so simple
Germany decided to go nuclear-free by 2022. A CO2-emission-free electricity supply system based on intermittent sources, such as wind and solar - or photovoltaic (PV) - power could replace nuclear power. However, these sources depend on the weather conditions. In a new study published in EPJ Plus, Fritz Wagner from the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Germany analysed weather conditions using 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2015 data derived from the electricity supply system itself, instead of relying on meteorological data. By scaling existing data up to a 100% supply from intermittent renewable energy sources, the author demonstrates that an average 325 GW wind and PV power are required to meet the 100% renewable energy target. This study shows the complexity of replacing the present primary energy supply with electricity from intermittent renewable sources, which would inevitably need to be supplemented by other forms of CO2-free energy production.
- Published on 05 December 2016
Scientists have now adopted a qualitative theoretical neuroscience model commensurate with actual measurements of neurons' dynamics
Neuroscientists are currently working diligently to understand the dynamics of thousands of coupled neurons. Understanding how they operate requires accurate models. The trouble is that each of the existing neuroscience models has its own shortcomings. Russian physicists have, for the first time, developed an effective method for solving the equations of a well-known theoretical neuroscience dynamic model and make it more biologically relevant. These findings have just been published in EPJ Plus by Eugene Postnikov and Olga Titkova from Kursk State University, Russia. They could not only help resolve problems in the neurosciences, but could also provide a deeper understanding of neuronal activity in the emerging sector of neurovascular dynamics, which describes the interplay between the brain's neurons and the blood flow.