Posts by: Matin Durrani

Fuel cell powers rock guitarist

By Matin Durrani

Running on hydrogen and oxygen and producing just electricity without any nasty emissions, fuel cells have over the years been used to power everything  from bikes and buses to cars and even planes.

But last week saw the debut of a fuel cell at Imperial College London that was used to power a rock band. The fuel cell was unveiled at a summer barbeque organized by the Hydrogen and Fuel Cells (H2FC) Supergen Hub – a scheme funded by the UK’s research councils to boost interest in fuel cells among UK universities and businesses.

(more…)

Posted in General | Tagged , | 4 Comments | Permalink
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

Physics World 2013 Focus on Vacuum Technology is out now

Physics World 2013 Focus Issue on Vacuum Technology

Physics World 2013 Focus on Vacuum Technology.

By Matin Durrani

What would happen if the global positioning system (GPS) were suddenly to stop working or be switched off? A lot more than a few wrong turns during a car journey, that’s for sure.

With so much technology relying on GPS, which is owned and operated by the US, it’s vital that alternative global satellite-navigation systems enter service. Thankfully, Europe’s Galileo system, currently in production in the UK, will be fully operational by the end of the decade. It will also be more accurate than GPS, which could lead to a host of novel applications.

But what’s interesting for physicists is that Galileo would not be possible without advanced vacuum engineering and testing – as you can find out in our new focus issue of Physics World on vacuum technology.

(more…)

Posted in General | Tagged , , | 2 Comments | Permalink
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

The August 2013 issue of Physics World is out now

By Matin Durrani

Physics World August 2013

Physics World August 2013.

If you’re a member of the Institute of Physics, it’s time to get stuck into the August 2013 issue of Physics World, which has a great range of articles that are sure to pique your interest.

Michael de Podesta from the UK’s National Physical Laboratory describes attempts to redefine the SI unit of temperature in terms of the Boltzmann constant. We also examine how ambitious plans to pipe energy to Europe from massive solar-power plants in north Africa and the Middle East appear to have bitten the dust.

This month’s Critical Point column by Robert Crease examines a fascinating institution in the US that seeks to teach physics and engineering through project-based work based on the intriguing principle of “just-in-time” – rather than “just-in-case” – education. Finally, a feature by our own Michael Banks tackles the move to open-access publishing, which is fast becoming a reality.

(more…)

Posted in General | Tagged | 1 Comment | Permalink
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

Explaining CERN, the Higgs and the LHC

By Matin Durrani

 

How well would you do if someone asked you to explain the Higgs boson or the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN?

If you’re a physicist, you’ll probably find it hard enough. But if you’ve never done any physics in your life, things must surely be trickier still, more so if a film crew from Physics World has shoved a camera up your nose.

These two short videos show the results of a straw poll of randomly selected visitors at last summer’s Bristol International Balloon Fiesta when we asked them to describe the Higgs boson and the LHC.

The reason we were at the fiesta is that we were making a separate film about a project by Bristol University physicist Dave Cussans where school students were measuring cosmic rays during a hot-air balloon flight – it being the centenary of Victor Hess’s discovery of these rays in a balloon flight in central Europe.

(more…)

Posted in General | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments | Permalink
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

The great physics bake-off

By Matin Durrani

Cakes from the Great Physics Bake Off

Cakes from the Great Physics Bake Off, with the overall winner second bottom on the left. (Courtesy: Chris Hodges)

And so to the physics department at Bristol University last night, which played host to “The Great Physics Bake Off” organized by PhD students Janina Möreke and Sara Carreira. The aims were simple: to showcase the cake-baking talent of the department, have some fun, and at the same time raise money for IOP for Africa – the scheme run by the Institute of Physics, which publishes Physics World, to boost physics education in some of the poorest countries in the world.

(more…)

Posted in General | Tagged , | Leave a comment | Permalink
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

Physics of cancer: free PDF download of the July 2013 issue

Cover of Physics World July 2013 special issue on "physics of cancer"

Physics World July 2013 special issue on the physics of cancer.

By Matin Durrani

Medical physicists have made – and continue to make – many valuable contributions to the treatment, diagnosis and imaging of cancer using X-rays, magnetic fields, protons and other subatomic particles. But some physicists are trying to tackle cancer through a very different approach. Rather than seeing cancer purely in terms of genetic mutations, these researchers are instead examining the physical parameters that control how cancer cells grow, evolve and spread around the body.

Find out more by downloading your free PDF copy of the July 2013 special issue of Physics World on the “physics of cancer”.

(more…)

Posted in General | Tagged , | 7 Comments | Permalink
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

Can Andy Murray give graphene a boost?

By Matin Durrani

Novak Djokovic uses a Head tennis racket containing graphene.

Novak Djokovic uses a Head tennis racket containing graphene.

It has become a cliché to call graphene the “wonder material” because of its incredible physical and electronic properties – this 2D honeycomb of carbon atoms is not only the strongest ever discovered, but also the stiffest, being able to sustain a current density a million times that of copper.

Having such great attributes is all well and good if you’re a researcher who’s fascinated by the subtleties of graphene’s electronic properties such as its lack of a band gap – but what if you’re a hard-nose business executive? Graphene will only be any good if it can help you to sell a product that’s somehow better than what’s already on the market and if it can at also make the company money at the same time.

(more…)

Posted in General | Tagged , | 4 Comments | Permalink
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

The Physics World 2013 Focus on Nanotechnology is now out

Cover of 2013 PW Nanotechnology Focus Issue

New for 2013.

By Matin Durrani

There’s just one purpose to this blog entry – to get you to check out the latest Physics World focus issue on nanotechnology.

Created in collaboration with our sister website nanotechweb.org, the new focus issue, which you can read in digital-magazine format simply by clicking this link, is packed with great content including a feature by Nobel-prize winning physicist Kostya Novoselov, who shared the 2010 prize with Andre Geim for their work on graphene.

(more…)

Posted in General | Tagged , | 2 Comments | Permalink
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

The June 2013 issue of Physics World is now out

Physics World June 2013

Physics World June 2013.

By Matin Durrani

As physics has grown into a bigger, increasingly global and more connected endeavour, are there still any true physics hot spots? Are there any institutes, universities or regions that really are “the place to be”? Does good physics, in other words, depend more on who (or what) you know than where you are?

The importance of having the right people in the right location is well illustrated in this month’s issue of Physics World, in which science writer Brian Clegg looks at the role played by Manchester in the development by Niels Bohr of his model of the atomic nucleus 100 years ago.

What drew Bohr there were not so much the facilities at the University of Manchester’s physics department but rather its working environment and in particular the presence of the New Zealander Ernest Rutherford, with whom Bohr struck up a great rapport.

Our cover story this month concerns attempts to extract carbon dioxide from the air in the fight against climate change, while elsewhere in the issue we look at all the cool – and pretty fundamental – things you can do with ultracold neutrons.

(more…)

Posted in General | Tagged | 2 Comments | Permalink
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

South Korea – round-up

Photo of PSY Tshirts

Physics could get a boost in Korea if PSY brought out a physics-related number.

By Matin Durrani and Michael Banks

Sitting in the lounge at Incheon Airport in Seoul waiting for the flight back to London, we’ve decided to draw up a list of 10 random things that the two of us have picked up while on the Physics World editorial visit to Korea. The list is based on observations we’ve made or little nuggets that physicists in the country have told us during our week-long trip. The list is just a bit of fun, so here goes.

(more…)

Posted in South Korea visit 2013 | Tagged | Leave a comment | Permalink
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile