News / Highlights / Colloquium
EPJ H Highlight - Deciphering Boltzmann’s response to Loschmidt’s paradox
- Published on 28 February 2022
New analysis offers a clarified translation and detailed commentary of Boltzmann’s original reaction to Loschmidt’s paradox
In 1876, Austrian physicist Josef Loschmidt published his ‘reversibility paradox,’ arguing that the time-symmetric processes demanded by fundamental physics are at odds with the second law of thermodynamics. A few months later, Loschmidt’s friend Ludwig Boltzmann, renowned for his statistical interpretation of thermodynamics, published his reaction to the paradox. However, the convoluted nature of his response has long remained baffling to modern readers. Through new analysis published in EPJ H, Olivier Darrigol at the CNRS in France clarifies Boltzmann’s main points, through a new translation and detailed commentary of his 1877 text.
EPJ H Highlight - A shifting approach to modelling phase transitions
- Published on 25 January 2022
Between the years 1937 and 1970, physicists went from taking a ‘naturalistic’ approach to modelling phase transitions, to a ‘caricature’ approach – which incorporated far less realistic models. New analysis of this period provides new insights into this profound shift in thinking.
Models of complex physical systems are a central aspect of theoretical physics. Yet despite their importance, there isn’t a single, overarching approach to the practice: meaning researchers in separate branches of physics will rarely use the same methods to construct their models. In one particularly interesting case, approaches for modelling phase transitions underwent a drastic transformation, between the years of 1937 and 1970. In a new paper published in EPJ H, Martin Niss at Roskilde University, Denmark, characterises this fundamental change in thinking.
EPJ H Highlight - Black hole thermodynamics: a history from Penrose to Hawking
- Published on 05 October 2021
New research explores the historical context of Penrose’s theory of black hole energy extraction, and how it inspired collaborations across political boundaries: ultimately leading to Stephen Hawking’s celebrated theory of black hole radiation.
In 1969, English physicist Roger Penrose discovered a property which would later allow for a long-awaited link between thermodynamics, and the far stranger mechanics of black holes. Through new analysis published in EPJ H, Carla Rodrigues Almeida, based at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, sheds new light on Penrose’s motivations and methods, and explores their historical influence on the groundbreaking discovery of Hawking radiation.
EPJ H Highlight - Revisiting Clebsch’s early papers
- Published on 03 August 2021
New analysis of two recently translated papers, first published in the 1850s, assesses the early methods used by Alfred Clebsch to describe the flow of incompressible fluids, and explores their impact on active areas of cutting-edge research
Alfred Clebsch is widely considered to be one of the fathers of algebraic geometry. Born in Prussia in 1833, he completed his PhD at just 21, and went on to publish two important papers soon afterwards, in 1857 and 1859. In these studies, he introduced mathematical constructs that are now called ‘Clebsch variables,’ which describe the velocity field of a fluid, and which are widely cited. Now, a team of researchers in France, Germany, the US and Brazil present the first English translations of Clebsch’s two early papers after more than 160 years. In an accompanying study published in EPJ H, important new explanations are provided for the difficult language of the papers.
EPJ H Highlight - Investigating heavy quark physics with the LHCb experiment
- Published on 15 April 2021
In ten years of operation the LHCb experiment has probed the nature of physics attempting to answer some of the Universe’s most fundamental questions. A new review examines its past achievements and future potential.
A new review published in EPJ H by Clara Matteuzzi, Research Director at the National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN) and former tenured professor at the University of Milan, and her colleagues, examines almost three decades of the LHCb experiment – from its conception to operation at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) – documenting its achievements and future potential.
EPJ H Highlight - Tracking the progress of fusion power through 60 years of neutral particle analysis
- Published on 14 April 2021
Harnessing the fusion power of the stars requires the control of plasma and a powerful diagnostic tool to analyse it
As the world’s energy demands grow, so too does growing concern over the environmental impact of power production. The need for a safe, clean, and reliable energy source has never been clearer. Fusion power could fulfil such a need. A review paper published in EPJ H examines the 6-decade history of neutral particle analysis (NPA), developed in Ioffe Institute, Saint Petersburg, Russia, a vital diagnostic tool used in magnetic plasma confinement devices such as tokamaks that will house the nuclear fusion process and generate the clean energy of the future.
EPJ H Highlight - Effective Field Theories and the Nature of the Universe
- Published on 23 March 2021
Effective Field Theories were introduced to simplify the mathematics involved in unifying interactions into the Standard Model of particle physics. An article in EPJ H presents Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg’s recent lecture on the development of these theories.
What is the world made of? This question, which goes back millennia, was revisited by theoretical physicist Steven Weinberg from the University of Texas in Austin, TX, USA in the first of an international seminar series, ‘All Things EFT’. Weinberg’s seminar has now been published as an article in the journal EPJ H.
EPJ H Highlight - A question of reality
- Published on 24 September 2020
John Stewart Bell’s eponymous theorem and inequalities set out, mathematically, the contrast between quantum mechanical theories and local realism. They are used in quantum information, which has evolving applications in security, cryptography and quantum computing.
The distinguished quantum physicist John Stewart Bell (1928-1990) is best known for the eponymous theorem that proved current understanding of quantum mechanics to be incompatible with local hidden variable theories. Thirty years after his death, his long-standing collaborator Reinhold Bertlmann of the University of Vienna, Austria, has reviewed his thinking in a paper for EPJ H, ‘Real or Not Real: That is the question’. In this historical and personal account, Bertlmann aims to introduce his readers to Bell’s concepts of reality and contrast them with some of his own ideas of virtuality.
EPJ H – Appoints new Editors-in-Chief
- Published on 01 April 2020
The European Physical Journal H – Historical Perspectives on Contemporary Physics (EPJ H) is pleased to announce the appointment of Professor James Wells and Dr. Michael Eckert as joint Editors-in-Chief as of 1 April 2020.
EPJ H Highlight - Unpacking the mystery of Feynman’s reference amplifier
- Published on 13 December 2019
A review of lectures given by Feynman between 1946 and 1971 showcase the strong influence that his involvement in the Manhattan Project held on his research, while revealing an intriguing mystery surrounding one particular amplifier device.
Richard Feynman was one of the 20th century’s most celebrated physicists. In 1943, he began his career in the Manhattan Project, where one of his tasks was to develop a device which could count the neutrons produced by nuclear reactions. Neutron signals emerging from counters must be strongly amplified to achieve this, but in the 1940s, practical amplification devices were hindered by their distorted signals. To overcome the issue, Feynman proposed a theoretical ‘reference amplifier’, which could provide amplifiers with a standard signal to be compared with. Through analysis published in EPJ H, researchers at the University of Naples, Italy, propose that this line of research exemplifies the influence which Feynman’s involvement in the Manhattan Project held over his later teaching and research.