2016 Impact factor 0.436
Historical Perspectives on Contemporary Physics

News

EPJ E Highlight - Physical properties of solids elucidated by zooming in and out of high resolution

Setup of an adaptative resolution simulation for solids.

A new study shows how to couple highly accurate and simplified models of the same system to extract thermodynamics information using simulations

Computer simulations are used to understand the properties of soft matter - such as liquids, polymers and biomolecules like DNA - which are too complicated to be described by equations. They are often too expensive to simulate in full, given the intensive computational power required. Instead, a helpful strategy is to couple an accurate model - applied in the areas of the system that require greater attention - with a simpler, idealised model. In a recent paper published in EPJ E, Maziar Heidari, from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research, Mainz, Germany and colleagues make the accurate model in high-resolution coincide seamlessly with an exactly solvable representation at lower resolution.

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EPJ B Highlight - Physicists with green fingers estimate tree spanning rate in random networks

The diagram of the random network model.

A team in China has just calculated the size of scale-free and small-world networks

Networks are often described as trees with spanning branches. How the tree branches out depends on the logic behind the network’s expansion, such as random expansion. However, some aspects of such randomly expanding networks are invariant; in other words, they display the same characteristics, regardless of the network’s scale. As a result, the entire network has the same shape as one or more of its parts. In a new study published in EPJ B, Fei Ma from Northwest Normal University in Lanzhou, Gansu Province, China, anc colleagues calculate the total number of spanning trees in randomly expanding networks. This method can be applied to modelling scale-free network models, which, as it turns out, are characterised by small-world properties. This means, for instance, that members of the network only exhibit six degrees of separation, like most people in our society.

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EPJ H Highlight - From a model of fluids to the birth to a new field in computational physics

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Berni G Alder giving a talk at EPFL in 2009.

Revisiting the roots of a physics field known as computational statistical mechanics

It may sound like the stuff of fairy tales, but in the 1950s two numerical models initially developed as a pet project by physicists led to the birth of an entirely new field of physics: computational statistical mechanics. This story has recently appeared in a paper published in EPJ H, authored by Michel Mareschal, an Emeritus Professor of Physics at the Free University of Brussels, Belgium. The article outlines the long journey leading to the acceptance of such models - namely Monte Carlo and Molecular Dynamics simulations - as reliable evidence for describing matter. This happened at a time when the computing power required to run simulations was scarce. Today, these techniques are used by thousands of researchers to model the behaviour of materials, in contexts ranging from fusion to biological systems.

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EPJ D Colloquium - Experimental progress in positronium laser physics

The field of experimental positronium physics has advanced significantly in the last few decades, with new areas of research driven by the development of techniques for trapping and manipulating positrons using Surko-type buffer gas traps. Large numbers of positrons (typically ≥106) accumulated in such a device may be ejected all at once, so as to generate an intense pulse.

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EPJ E Highlight - Remote control of transport through nanopores

Dynamics of dextran sulfate transport through aerolysin nanopore.

New study outlines key factors affecting the transfer of molecules through biological channels

In our bodies, the transfer of genetic information, viral infections and protein trafficking, as well as the synthesis and the degradation of biomolecules, are all phenomena that require the transport of molecules through channels. Improving our control of these channels and the capacity of molecules to get across could have many potential applications in the fields of energy, biotechnology and medicine. These include ultra-fast DNA sequencing, detection of biological markers used in disease diagnostics, protein folding, high-resolution determination of the size of biological molecules or even the control of ion or biomolecule transport through the protein sensor. In a new study published in EPJ E, Manuela Pastoriza-Gallego from the University Paris-Seine, France, and colleagues have shown how to alter external factors, such as external voltage, to control the transport of a dextran sulfate molecule - a polyelectrolyte - through the nanopores of the aerolysin protein channel.

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EPJD Highlight - Antimatter study to benefit from recipe for ten-fold spatial compression of plasma

Example of raw images from the detector for identical particle operations with antiproton detection (left) and electron detection (right)

Improving the spatial compression of a mixed matter-antimatter trapped plasma brings us one step closer to grasping the acceleration of antimatter due to Earth’s gravity

An international team of physicists studying antimatter have now derived an improved way of spatially compressing a state of matter called non-neutral plasma, which is made up of a type of antimatter particles, called antiprotons, trapped together with matter particles, like electrons.

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EPJE Highlight - Tumorcode, a software to simulate vascularized tumors

Rendering of a bulk tissue tumor simulation.

An open source software that is able to construct synthetic blood vessel networks in 3D, matching the properties observed in real tumor samples.

The tumor vasculature is a major target of anticancer therapies. Rieger, Fredrich and Welter at Saarland University, Germany have been pursuing a quantitative analysis of the physical determinants of vascularized tumors for several years [1]. With the help of computer simulations they have been able to recapitulate the knowledge accrued from in vitro research of tumor spheroids, animal models and clinical studies and have re-created a vascularized tumor system in silico.

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EPJ Data Science Highlight - Academic performance and behavioral patterns

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

In an article just published in EPJ Data Science, Valentin Kassarnig, Sune Lehmann and Andreas Bjerre-Nielsen look into smartphone data of undergraduate students to assess factors influencing social behavior and educational performance.

(Guest post by Valentin Kassarnig, Sune Lehmann & Andreas Bjerre-Nielsen, originally published on the SpringerOpen blog)

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EPJ B Highlight - Turning graphene into light nanosensors

Absorption on the plane of incident angle and wavelength.

Tuning the graphene embedded in a photonic crystal by varying the external temperature can transform it into a light-sensitive sensor

Graphene has many properties; it is e.g. an extremely good conductor. But it does not absorb light very well. To remedy this limiting aspect of what is an otherwise amazing material, physicists resort to embedding a sheet of graphene in a flat photonic crystal, which is excellent for controlling the flow of light. The combination endows graphene with substantially enhanced light-absorbing capabilities. In a new study published in EPJ B, Arezou Rashidi and Abdolrahman Namdar from the University of Tabriz, Iran demonstrate that, by altering the temperature in such a hybrid cavity structure, they can tune its capacity for optical absorption. They explain that it is the thermal expansion and thermo-optical effects which give the graphene these optical characteristics. Potential applications include light sensors, ultra-fast lasers, and systems capable of modulating incoming optical beams.

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EPJ Data Science Highlight - Discovering temporal regularities in retail customers’ shopping behaviour

(image via Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons)

Why do we buy certain items when we buy them? A new study published in EPJ Data Science analyzes personal retail data to extract a temporal purchasing profile, which is able to summarize whether and when a customer makes a purchase. Its results show that certain patterns and types of shoppers are detectable, which can be used both by customers to enable personalized services, and by the retail market chain for providing offers and discounts tailored to the individual shoppers personal temporal profile.

(Guest post by Riccardo Guidotti and Anna Monreale, originally published on the SpringerOpen blog)

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Managing Editors
W. Beiglböck and F. Guerra
ISSN (Print Edition): 2102-6459
ISSN (Electronic Edition): 2102-6467

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