The Hilbert space formulation is a central idea in quantum theory, but the ideas used by physicists to interpret the formulation widely differ. Furthermore, concepts in quantum mechanics are very abstract to those outside the field. Professor Inge Helland from the University of Oslo approaches these problems through what he calls ‘conceptual variables’, which belong to the minds of one or more conscious observers. From this basis, he achieves a new derivation of the Hilbert space formulation, which he hopes will lead to more satisfying studies of the foundations of quantum theory.
By stacking layers of atom-thick materials on top of each other, researchers are opening up a whole host of exciting new possibilities for technology and scientific research. Particularly interesting properties in these 2D materials could be achieved by stacking three or more of these layers – but so far, the large-scale production of these structures has proven difficult. Using carefully applied techniques, Dr Jakub Sitek and his team at Warsaw University of Technology have made important steps towards overcoming this challenge.
Interactions between positive and negative ions are important processes in nature. However, there is a lack of experimental facilities designed to study them in detail. This picture could now be changing thanks to DESIREE: a facility where different ion beams can be stored and cooled for extensive periods within separate rings, before colliding with each other. Run by an extensive team of physicists at Stockholm University, the instrument is shedding new light on how ions interact in a wide range of environments – from dynamic stellar atmospheres, to interstellar space.
Gyroscopes are widely used to measure the orientations and rotation speeds of moving objects – but according to one pair of researchers, the techniques we currently use to measure them are introducing significant and easily avoidable errors. Through their research, Dr Sara Stančin | Dr Sašo Tomažič, both at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia, introduce a mathematical framework which accounts for how all three rotations measured by a gyroscope happen simultaneously, rather than in a sequence.
Professor Andrew R. Barron | Repurposing Plastic COVID Facemasks to Improve the Steel-Making Process
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, billions of plastic facemasks have been used and disposed of, with the majority destined for landfill. Professor Andrew R. Barron and his team at the Energy Safety Research Institute in Swansea, Wales, have developed an innovative method for repurposing these used facemasks. By transforming them into a powdered material that acts as a reducing agent, Professor Barron’s team aim to make the steel-making process more energy-efficient and sustainable.
Wide-area scans of the sky are an important tool for astronomers as they seek to learn more about the universe. However, as the latest observation techniques have become increasingly sensitive, faint objects within these surveys can appear to blend together. Through his research, Dr Peter Melchior at Princeton University presents a computer-based framework for disentangling these blended sources, and for artificially reconstructing the components they contain. Named SCARLET, the technique could soon help astronomers to study the depths of the observable universe in unprecedented levels of detail.