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A tale of two Nobel Prizes
Multiscale modeling of nerve agent hydrolysis mechanisms: a tale of two Nobel Prizes by Martin Field and Troy Wymore has been published as Physica Scripta's first open access paper. In the same way that The Higgs bridge explained the physics behind the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics and the Nobel Symposium, this article draws upon the connection between two Nobel Prizes, Peace and Chemistry, in clarifying the research underlying the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. These articles are intended for undergraduates and general readers.
Crystallography and the Gregori Aminoff Prize
To mark the fact that 2014 has been designated the 'International Year of Crystallography', Physica Scripta will be publishing a virtual issue containing Invited Comments on the history of crystallography, as well as autobiographical articles from some of the current and previous winners of the Gregori Aminoff Prize. You can read the first papers published in this virtual issue here.
9th International Conference on Nuclear Physics at Storage rings (STORI-2014) - poster prize
Physica Scripta is pleased to annouced that Mirko von Schmid, Maryna Dolinksa and Fumi Suzaki have been awarded prizes for the best posters presented at the 9th International Conference on Nuclear Physics at Storage rings, held in Sankt Goar, Germany, in September 2014.
In the last 30 days
D J Dunstan and D J Hodgson 2014 Phys. Scr. 89 068002
Many gardeners and horticulturalists seek non-chemical methods to control populations of snails. It has frequently been reported that snails that are marked and removed from a garden are later found in the garden again. This phenomenon is often cited as evidence for a homing instinct. We report a systematic study of the snail population in a small suburban garden, in which large numbers of snails were marked and removed over a period of about 6 months. While many returned, inferring a homing instinct from this evidence requires statistical modelling. Monte Carlo techniques demonstrate that movements of snails are better explained by drift under the influence of a homing instinct than by random diffusion. Maximum likelihood techniques infer the existence of two groups of snails in the garden: members of a larger population that show little affinity to the garden itself, and core members of a local garden population that regularly return to their home if removed. The data are strongly suggestive of a homing instinct, but also reveal that snail-throwing can work as a pest management strategy.
Martin J Field and Troy W Wymore 2014 Phys. Scr. 89 108004
The 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems, whereas the 2013 Peace Prize was given to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons for their efforts to eliminate chemical warfare agents. This review relates the two by introducing the field of multiscale modeling and highlighting its application to the study of the biological mechanisms by which selected chemical weapon agents exert their effects at an atomic level.
B Cameron Reed 2014 Phys. Scr. 89 108003
The Manhattan Project was the United States Army’s program to develop and deploy nuclear weapons during World War II. In these devices, which are known popularly as ‘atomic bombs’, energy is released not by a chemical explosion but by the much more violent process of fission of nuclei of heavy elements via a neutron-mediated chain-reaction. Three years after taking on this project in mid-1942, the Army’s Manhattan Engineer District produced three nuclear bombs of two different designs. Two of these devices were fueled with the 239 isotope of the synthetic element plutonium, while the third employed the rare 235 isotope of uranium. One of the plutonium devices, code-named Trinity, was detonated in a test in southern New Mexico on 16 July 1945; this was the world’s first nuclear explosion. Three weeks later, on 6 August, the uranium bomb, Little Boy, was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. On 9 August the second plutonium device, Fat Man, was dropped on Nagasaki. Together, the two bombings killed over 100 000 people and were at least partially responsible for the Japanese government’s 14 August decision to surrender. This article surveys, at an undergraduate level, the science and history of the Manhattan Project.
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.
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.
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.
Y Blumenfeld et al 2013 Phys. Scr. 2013 014023
Radioactive ion beam facilities are transforming nuclear science by making beams of exotic nuclei with various properties available for experiments. New infrastructures and development of existing installations enlarges the scientific scope continuously. An overview of the main production, separation and beam handling methods with focus on recent developments is done, as well as a survey of existing and forthcoming facilities world-wide.
H Rezvani Nikabadi et al 2013 Phys. Scr. 87 025802
In this paper, a facile method for the synthesis of gold nanoseeds on the functionalized surface of silica nanoparticles has been investigated. Mono-dispersed silica particles and gold nanoparticles were prepared by the chemical reduction method. The thickness of the Au shell was well controlled by repeating the reduction time of HAuCl 4 on silica/3-aminopropyltriethoxysilane (APTES)/initial gold nanoparticles. The prepared SiO 2@gold core/shell nanoparticles were studied using x-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and ultraviolet visible (UV–Vis) spectroscopy. The TEM images indicated that the silica nanoparticles were spherical in shape with 100 nm diameters and functionalizing silica nanoparticles with a layer of bi-functional APTES molecules and tetrakis hydroxy methyl phosphonium chloride. The gold nanoparticles show a narrow size of up to 5 nm and by growing gold nanoseeds over the silica cores a red shift in the maximum absorbance of UV–Vis spectroscopy from 524 to 637 nm was observed.
Marcel Ausloos et al 2014 Phys. Scr. 89 108002
A question is raised on whether some implied regularity or structure, as found in the soccer team ranking by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), is due to an implicit game result value or score competition conditions. The analysis is based on considerations of complex systems, i.e. finding whether power or other simple law fits are appropriate to describe some internal dynamics. It is observed that the ranking is specifically organized: a major class comprising a few teams emerges after each season. Other classes, which apparently have regular sizes, occur subsequently. Thus, the notion of the Sheppard primacy index is envisaged to describe the findings. Additional primacy indices are discussed for enhancing the features. These measures can be used to sort out peer classes in more general terms. A very simplified toy model containing components of the UEFA ranking rules suggests that such peer classes are an extrinsic property of the ranking, as obtained in many nonlinear systems under boundary condition constraints.
J E Hirsch 2013 Phys. Scr. 88 035704
Conventional Hubbard models do not take into account the fact that the wavefunction of an electron in an atomic orbital expands when a second electron occupies the orbital. Dynamic Hubbard models have been proposed to describe this physics. These models reflect the fact that electronic materials are generically not electron–hole symmetric, and they give rise to superconductivity driven by lowering of kinetic energy when the electronic energy band is almost full, with higher transition temperatures resulting when the ions are negatively charged. We show that the charge distribution in dynamic Hubbard models can be highly inhomogeneous in the presence of disorder, and that a finite system will expel negative charge from the interior to the surface, and that these tendencies are largest in the parameter regime where the models give rise to highest superconducting transition temperatures. High T c cuprate materials exhibit charge inhomogeneity and they exhibit tunneling asymmetry, a larger tendency to emit electrons rather than holes in normal–insulating–superconducting tunnel junctions. We propose that these properties, as well as their high T c, are evidence that they are governed by the physics described by dynamic Hubbard models. Below the superconducting transition temperature the models considered here describe a negatively charged superfluid and positively charged quasiparticles, unlike the situation in conventional Bardeen–Cooper–Schrieffer superconductors where quasiparticles are charge neutral on average. We examine the temperature dependence of the superfluid and quasiparticle charges and conclude that spontaneous electric fields should be observable in the interior and in the vicinity of superconducting materials described by these models at sufficiently low temperatures. We furthermore suggest that the dynamics of the negatively charged superfluid and positively charged quasiparticles in dynamic Hubbard models can provide an explanation for the Meissner effect observed in high T c and low T c superconducting materials.