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Professor Inge Helland | Reconstructing Parts of Quantum Theory from Two Conceptual Variables

Professor Inge Helland | Reconstructing Parts of Quantum Theory from Two Conceptual Variables

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.

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Dr Jakub Sitek | Growing Stacks of 2D Materials for Electronic Applications

Dr Jakub Sitek | Growing Stacks of 2D Materials for Electronic Applications

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.

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Professor Henning Schmidt | DESIREE: Recreating Interactions Between Ions

Professor Henning Schmidt | DESIREE: Recreating Interactions Between Ions

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.

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Dr Sara Stančin | Dr Sašo Tomažič – Improving 3D Orientation Tracking in Gyroscope Sensors

Dr Sara Stančin | Dr Sašo Tomažič – Improving 3D Orientation Tracking in Gyroscope Sensors

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.

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Professor Andrew R. Barron | Repurposing Plastic COVID Facemasks to Improve the Steel-Making Process

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.

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Dr Peter Melchior | SCARLET: Exploring the Universe in Unprecedented Detail

Dr Peter Melchior | SCARLET: Exploring the Universe in Unprecedented Detail

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.

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Dr Surjani Wonorahardjo – Dr Suharti Suharti – Dr I Wayan Dasna | Exploring the Ethics and Environmental Impact of Chemistry

Dr Surjani Wonorahardjo – Dr Suharti Suharti – Dr I Wayan Dasna | Exploring the Ethics and Environmental Impact of Chemistry

From its early days, the field of chemistry has been exploring nature at the molecular level. As such, chemistry is also used to explore natural resources and possible ways of exploiting them. As Earth’s environment is now rapidly deteriorating, chemists need to adapt their practices with the aim of contributing to its protection. Dr Surjani Wonorahardjo, Dr Suharti Suharti and Dr I Wayan Dasna, three researchers in Indonesia, have recently conducted a study exploring the ethical and environmental issues associated with current chemistry practices, in the hope to inspire reflection and positive change in the field.

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Dr Helen Greenwood Hansma | Energy: A Clue to the Origins of Life

Dr Helen Greenwood Hansma | Energy: A Clue to the Origins of Life

Energy is vital for life. It allows important functions to occur in living systems, from the molecular level to the scale of the whole organism. Dr Helen Greenwood Hansma, from the University of California in Santa Barbara, believes that the types of energy used in living cells can provide clues to help us understand the origins of life. In her recent research, she explores how mechanical energy could have driven the processes that gave rise to early life in the absence of chemical energy.

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Dr Santiago Septien Stringel | Transforming Human Waste into Sustainable Products

Dr Santiago Septien Stringel | Transforming Human Waste into Sustainable Products

Faecal sludge, a material derived from human waste, can be difficult to dispose of and causes significant disease and pollution worldwide. However, it also shows potential as a fuel, fertiliser and even a building material, if properly treated. Dr Santiago [san-tee-ah-go] Septien [sep-tee-uhn] Stringel and his team at the WASH R&D [wash R and D] Centre of the University of KwaZulu-Natal [kwah-zoo-loo-nay-taal], in Durban, South Africa, have been investigating the process for drying faecal sludge, towards developing new ways of transforming it into sustainable products.

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Understanding Astrochemistry

Understanding Astrochemistry

Over the past few decades, astronomers have learnt more and more about the planets, moons, and asteroids of our Solar System – but we still have much to learn about the materials they are made from. For hundreds of years, we have used chemistry to study such materials on Earth, but there is no guarantee that they will behave in the same way in space – where they can exist in environments ranging from harsh, airless vacuums, to strange and exotic atmospheres.

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Optimising Lubricant Oils to Boost Engine Efficiency | Ken Hope

Optimising Lubricant Oils to Boost Engine Efficiency | Ken Hope

The engine of a typical passenger vehicle is made up of hundreds of mechanical parts. These parts require lubrication to prevent them from overheating and to keep them working efficiently. Ken Hope and his team at Chevron Phillips Chemical, headquartered in Texas, have analysed the extent to which different types of lubricant oils reduce friction. They then used this data to estimate how an optimised oil mixture can achieve an overall improvement in engine efficiency.

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Exploring the Surface Chemistry of Interstellar Dust

Exploring the Surface Chemistry of Interstellar Dust

Interstellar space may seem like the last place you would look when searching for the chemical origins of life. Yet on the surfaces of tiny dust grains within this vast expanse, complex chemical reactions are continually occurring, which likely played a key role in establishing the rich diversity of complex molecules we observe in the solar system today. In a new study, astrochemists in Spain and Italy, led by Albert Rimola at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, examine how advanced simulation techniques can be used to study these important processes on atomic scales.

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Professor Valerii Vinokur – Professor Anna Razumnaya – Professor Igor Lukyanchuk | Reinventing the Capacitor

Professor Valerii Vinokur – Professor Anna Razumnaya – Professor Igor Lukyanchuk | Reinventing the Capacitor

Modern microelectronics is currently facing a profound challenge. The demand for even smaller and more closely packed electronics has hit a stumbling block: the power emitted in these devices releases more heat than can be efficiently removed. Now, the Terra Quantum team proposes a solution based on the seemingly counterintuitive phenomenon of ‘negative capacitance’.

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Dr Helen Greenwood Hansma | Energy: A Clue to the Origins of Life

Dr Helen Greenwood Hansma | Energy: A Clue to the Origins of Life

Before the first living organisms were brought into being, molecules were already moving and changing. Many energy sources, including light and heat from the sun, were available to provide the energy needed to drive chemical reactions. Mechanical energy, which describes the energy of motion, was also readily available before life’s emergence. Dr Helen Greenwood Hansma from the University of California in Santa Barbara explores how mechanical energy could have driven the processes that gave rise to early life.

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Eric Hinterman | Optimising Oxygen Production on Mars

Eric Hinterman | Optimising Oxygen Production on Mars

The first human mission to Mars may not be far away, but many preparations still need to be made to ensure the safety of crews once they arrive. One of the key requirements of these missions will be producing a steady supply of oxygen. This will allow crews to survive inside their habitats on the Martian surface, while also providing propellant for a Mars Ascent Vehicle, allowing them to return home.

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Exploring the Surface Chemistry of Interstellar Dust

Dr Albert Rimola – Exploring the Surface Chemistry of Interstellar Dust

It may be surprising to know, that you – and all other mammals – are technically cynodonts. The first cynodonts appeared approximately 260 million years ago as small creatures about the size of a house cat. A particular group of cynodonts evolved to become more ‘mammal-like’, eventually evolving into the first true mammals. Dr Jennifer Botha from the National Museum, Bloemfontein in South Africa studies the anatomy and life history of specimens along the cynodont–mammalian transition, to gain key insights into the origins and evolution of mammals.

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Understanding Astrochemistry

Understanding Astrochemistry

Over the past few decades, astronomers have learnt more and more about the planets, moons, and asteroids of our Solar System – but we still have much to learn about the materials they are made from. For hundreds of years, we have used chemistry to study such materials on Earth, but there is no guarantee that they will behave in the same way in space – where they can exist in environments ranging from harsh, airless vacuums, to strange and exotic atmospheres.

read more
Exploring the Surface Chemistry of Interstellar Dust

Exploring the Surface Chemistry of Interstellar Dust

Interstellar space may seem like the last place you would look when searching for the chemical origins of life. Yet on the surfaces of tiny dust grains within this vast expanse, complex chemical reactions are continually occurring, which likely played a key role in establishing the rich diversity of complex molecules we observe in the solar system today. In a new study, astrochemists in Spain and Italy, led by Albert Rimola at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, examine how advanced simulation techniques can be used to study these important processes on atomic scales.

read more

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