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Poetry please, a protein-folding app for your phone, and a new home for the Institute of Physics

Artist's impression of the new headquarters of the Institute of Physics

Artist’s impression of the new headquarters of the Institute of Physics.

By Hamish Johnston

You may not know it, but you could be a poet.

The European Space Agency (ESA) and the Hubble Space Telescope have just launched a contest to find the best “Ode to Hubble” as part of the celebrations for Hubble’s 25th birthday. Although described as an ode, the contest is actually looking for a short video tribute to Hubble that can include verse, song, prose as well as still and moving images. The piece can either be about the telescope or one of its many discoveries. There are two age categories, one for “generation Hubble” – those born after its launch – and one for over 25s. So look to the stars and get those creative juices flowing.

Also in this week’s Red Folder is the opportunity to put your smartphone to work in the crusade against Alzheimer’s disease. Over on our sister site, editor Anna Demming has written a nice article about a citizen-science project called Folding@Home, which has been running protein-folding simulations on volunteers’ home computers and games consoles since 1998. Now, the team has released a version that runs on Android smartphones. Protein folding is a hot topic in biophysics because it is integral to the function (or malfunction) of a wide range of biological processes. The challenge is that vast amounts of computing power are required, and that is where the billions of smartphones worldwide come in.

The Institute of Physics (IOP), which publishes, has just obtained planning permission from Islington council to build a new headquarters in the King’s Cross area of London. For those of you not familiar with the ins and outs of English property law, this means that the IOP can go ahead with the redevelopment that will make use of several existing buildings in Balfe Street and Caledonian Road. Features of the new headquarters will include heating and cooling provided through geothermal piles and a “green roof” with living plant material for insulation and water absorption. The facility will also include an educational zone and exhibition space, as well as a cafe for both the public and staff.

Finally, have you ever wondered why snow is white? Physicist and author Chad Orzel explains why on his Uncertain Principles blog. If you are out marvelling at the snow this weekend (sadly there is none here in Bristol), you could bundle-up in one of these fetching parkas courtesy of the wardrobe department of The Big Bang Theory. The orange jackets have been used in Greenland by genuine scientists, so they must be warm.

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  1. M. Asghar

    The vast universe with its shuffle, Cosmetically, as a bubble,
    Pulling, pushing out and glowing
    And there, the watchfull eye of Hubble.

  2. M. Asghar

    Please, correct: “Cosmetically… bubble”, is the 2nd line of the text. Thank you.

  3. Trackback: Physics Viewpoint | Poetry please, a protein-folding app for your phone, and a new home for the Institute of Physics


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