Physica Scripta is published by the IOP on behalf of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for the Science Academies and the Physical Societies of the Nordic Countries.
Paper of the Week – Densities, isobaric thermal expansion coefficients and isothermal compressibilities of linear alkylbenzene For optimization of large scale liquid scintillator facilities like Daya Bay and JUNO, knowledge of the properties of the scintillator is important. Researchers report the measurements of the densities of linear alkylbenzene at three temperatures from 4 to 23 °C with pressures up to 10 MPa. They analyse the measurements to yield the isobaric thermal expansion coefficients and, for the first time, isothermal compressibilities of this substance. The relevance of their results for current and next generation liquid scintillator neutrino detectors are discussed.
Virtual issue: Mixing in fusion plasmas
With Guest Editors Snezhana I Abarzhi, Michael E Mauel and Harold Weitzner, this virtual issue comprises a collection of papers that were presented at, and are relevant to, the mini-conference Mixing in Fusion Plasmas and the programme 'Turbulent Mixing and Beyond'.
Highlights of 2014
Don't miss our new collection of papers, celebrating the research that was published with us last year. All the papers are free to read until 31 December 2015.
In the last 30 days
Garry Robinson and Ian Robinson 2015 Phys. Scr. 90 028004
In ‘swing’ bowling, as employed by fast and fast-medium bowlers in cricket, back-spin along the line of the seam is normally applied in order to keep the seam vertical and to provide stability against ‘wobble’ of the seam. Whilst spin is normally thought of as primarily being the slow bowlerʼs domain, the spin applied by the swing bowler has the side-effect of generating a lift or Magnus force. This force, depending on the orientation of the seam and hence that of the back-spin, can have a side-ways component as well as the expected vertical ‘lift’ component. The effect of the spin itself, in influencing the trajectory of the fast bowlerʼs delivery, is normally not considered, presumably being thought of as negligible. The purpose of this paper is to investigate, using calculated model trajectories, the amount of side-ways movement due to the spin and to see how this predicted movement compares with the total observed side-ways movement. The size of the vertical lift component is also estimated.
It is found that, although the spin is an essential part of the successful swing bowlerʼs delivery, the amount of side-ways movement due to the spin itself amounts to a few centimetres or so, and is therefore small, but perhaps not negligible, compared to the total amount of side-ways movement observed. The spin does, however, provide a considerable amount of lift compared to the equivalent delivery bowled without spin, altering the point of pitching by up to 3 m, a very large amount indeed. Thus, for example, bowling a ball with the seam pointing directly down the pitch and not designed to swing side-ways at all, but with the amount of back-spin varied, could provide a very powerful additional weapon in the fast bowlerʼs arsenal. So-called ‘sling bowlers’, who use a very low arm action, can take advantage of spin since effectively they can apply side-spin to the ball, giving rise to a large side-ways movement, cm or more, which certainly is significant. For a given amount of spin the amount of side-ways movement increases as the bowlerʼs delivery arm becomes more horizontal. This technique could also be exploited by normal spin bowlers as well as swing bowlers.
Ian Robinson and Sally Robinson 2015 Phys. Scr. 90 048003
This is an account of my life and my contributions to crystallography which have led to my receiving the 2015 Aminoff Prize. Periods discussed in this article are childhood influences, formal training at Harvard, life as an independent researcher at Bell Labs, starting the academic routine at Illinois and then London. Three major discoveries are presented in the form of anecdotes, on the silicon 7 × 7 structure, on crystal truncation rods and coherent x-ray diffraction. Much of my work has centered on the need for developing the instrumentation behind the intellectual steps, such as beamlines at the Brookhaven, Argonne, and Diamond synchrotron radiation facilities. This trend continues with the emergence of new possibilities for crystallography using x-ray free-electron lasers.
Garry Robinson and Ian Robinson 2013 Phys. Scr. 88 018101
In this paper the differential equations which govern the motion of a spherical projectile rotating about an arbitrary axis in the presence of an arbitrary ‘wind’ are developed. Three forces are assumed to act on the projectile: (i) gravity, (ii) a drag force proportional to the square of the projectile's velocity and in the opposite direction to this velocity and (iii) a lift or ‘Magnus’ force also assumed to be proportional to the square of the projectile's velocity and in a direction perpendicular to both this velocity and the angular velocity vector of the projectile. The problem has been coded in Matlab and some illustrative model trajectories are presented for ‘ball-games’, specifically golf and cricket, although the equations could equally well be applied to other ball-games such as tennis, soccer or baseball.
Spin about an arbitrary axis allows for the treatment of situations where, for example, the spin has a component about the direction of travel. In the case of a cricket ball the subtle behaviour of so-called ‘drift’, particularly ‘late drift’, and also ‘dip’, which may be produced by a slow bowler's off or leg-spin, are investigated. It is found that the trajectories obtained are broadly in accord with those observed in practice. We envisage that this paper may be useful in two ways: (i) for its inherent scientific value as, to the best of our knowledge, the fundamental equations derived here have not appeared in the literature and (ii) in cultivating student interest in the numerical solution of differential equations, since so many of them actively participate in ball-games, and they will be able to compare their own practical experience with the overall trends indicated by the numerical results.
As the paper presents equations which can be further extended, it may be of interest to research workers. However, since only the most basic principles of fundamental mechanics are employed, it should be well within the grasp of first year university students in physics and engineering and, with the guidance of teachers, good final year secondary school students. The trajectory results included may be useful to sporting personnel with no formal training in physics.
Mar?a A H Vozmediano and F Guinea 2012 Phys. Scr. 2012 014015
We give an update of the situation concerning the effect of electron–electron interactions on the physics of a neutral graphene system at low energies. We revise old renormalization group results and the use of 1/ N expansion to address questions of the possible opening of a low-energy gap, and the magnitude of the graphene fine structure constant. We emphasize the role of Fermi velocity as the only free parameter determining the transport and electronic properties of the graphene system and revise its renormalization by Coulomb interactions in the light of recent experimental evidence.
Seth D Baum 2014 Phys. Scr. 89 128004
Some emerging technologies promise to significantly improve the human condition, but come with a risk of failure so catastrophic that human civilization may not survive. This article discusses the great downside dilemma posed by the decision of whether or not to use these technologies. The dilemma is: use the technology, and risk the downside of catastrophic failure, or do not use the technology, and suffer through life without it. Historical precedents include the first nuclear weapon test and messaging to extraterrestrial intelligence. Contemporary examples include stratospheric geoengineering, a technology under development in response to global warming, and artificial general intelligence, a technology that could even take over the world. How the dilemma should be resolved depends on the details of each technology’s downside risk and on what the human condition would otherwise be. Meanwhile, other technologies do not pose this dilemma, including sustainable design technologies, nuclear fusion power, and space colonization. Decisions on all of these technologies should be made with the long-term interests of human civilization in mind. This paper is part of a series of papers based on presentations at the Emerging Technologies and the Future of Humanity event held at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on 17 March 2014.
Sukang Bae et al 2012 Phys. Scr. 2012 014024
Since the first isolation of graphene in 2004 by mechanical exfoliation from graphite, many people have tried to synthesize large-scale graphene using various chemical methods. In particular, there has been a great number of advances in the synthesis of graphene using chemical vapor deposition (CVD) on metal substrates such as Ni and Cu. Recently, a method to synthesize ultra-large-scale (~30 inch) graphene films using roll-to-roll transfer and chemical doping processes was developed that shows excellent electrical and physical properties suitable for practical applications on a large scale. Considering the outstanding scalability/processibility of roll-to-roll and CVD methods as well as the extraordinary flexibility/conductivity of graphene films, we expect that transparent graphene electrodes can replace indium tin oxide in the near future.
K S Novoselov and A H Castro Neto 2012 Phys. Scr. 2012 014006
Graphene is just one example of a large class of two-dimensional crystals. These crystals can either be extracted from layered three-dimensional materials or grown artificially by several different methods. Furthermore, they present physical properties that are unique because of the low dimensionality and their special crystal structure. They have potential for semiconducting behavior, magnetism, superconductivity, and even more complex many-body phenomena. Two-dimensional crystals can also be assembled in three-dimensional heterostructures that do not exist in nature and have tailored properties, opening an entirely new chapter in condensed matter research.
Kaj Sotala and Roman V Yampolskiy 2015 Phys. Scr. 90 018001
Many researchers have argued that humanity will create artificial general intelligence (AGI) within the next twenty to one hundred years. It has been suggested that AGI may inflict serious damage to human well-being on a global scale (‘catastrophic risk’). After summarizing the arguments for why AGI may pose such a risk, we review the fieldʼs proposed responses to AGI risk. We consider societal proposals, proposals for external constraints on AGI behaviors and proposals for creating AGIs that are safe due to their internal design.
Lia Addadi and Steve Weiner 2014 Phys. Scr. 89 098003
Organisms form many different types of minerals, with diverse shapes and sizes. These minerals fulfill a variety of functions. Inspired by the late H A Lowenstam, Steve Weiner and Lia Addadi have addressed many questions that relate to the mechanisms by which biological organisms produce these mineral phases and how their structures relate to their functions. Addadi and Weiner have explored the manner in which macromolecules extracted from mineralized tissues can interact with some crystal planes and not others, how these macromolecules can be occluded inside the forming crystals residing preferentially on specific crystal planes, and how they can induce one polymorph of calcium carbonate and not another to nucleate. Addadi and Weiner have also identified a novel strategy used by the sea urchin to form its smooth and convoluted mineralized skeletal elements. The strategy involves the initial production by cells of a highly disordered mineral precursor phase in vesicles, and then the export of this so-called amorphous phase to the site of skeletal formation, where it crystallizes. This strategy is now known to be used by many different invertebrate phyla, as well as by vertebrates to build bones and teeth. One of the major current research aims of the Weiner--Addadi group is to understand the biomineralization pathways whereby ions are extracted from the environment, are transported and deposited inside cells within vesicles, how these disordered phases are then transferred to the site of skeletal formation, and finally how the so-called amorphous phase crystallizes. Biology has clearly evolved unique strategies for forming crystalline minerals. Despite more than 300 years of research in this field, many challenging questions still remain unanswered.
Michael G Rossmann 2014 Phys. Scr. 89 098005
I describe my gradually evolving role as a scientist from my birth in Frankfurt (Germany) to my education in the UK, my post-doc years and my experiences as an independent investigator at Purdue University1. I discuss the significance of my post-doctoral work in Minnesota where I had my first encounter with an electronic computer and subsequently in Cambridge where I participated in the first structure determination of proteins. After six years back in England my family moved to Indiana (USA) where my home remains to this day. At Purdue University I first studied the structure of enzymes and in the process I discovered the organization and slow evolution of protein domains, each with a specific function. With this success I started what had been on my mind already for a long time, namely the structural analysis of viruses. Initially we studied plant viruses but then switched to small RNA animal viruses, discovering that some plant and animal RNA viruses have closely similar structures and therefore presumably had a common evolutionary origin. Next I became interested in somewhat larger viruses that had lipid membrane envelopes. In turn that has led to the study of very large dsDNA viruses as big as small bacteria as well as studies of bacterial viruses that require complex molecular motors for different parts of their life cycle. While developing crystallographic techniques for the study of viruses it has become progressively more apparent that electron microscopy is an important new tool that is likely to eclipse x-ray crystallography in the next decade.