Plato was right: Earth is made, on average, of cubes

Science Daily  July 20, 2020 The question an international team of researchers (Hungary, USA- University of Pennsylvania) answered is what shapes are created when rocks break into pieces. Remarkably, they found that the core mathematical conjecture unites geological processes not only on Earth but around the solar system as well. Part of this understanding is that the components that break out of a formerly solid object must fit together without any gaps. As it turns out, the only one of the so-called platonic forms — polyhedra with sides of equal length — that fit together without gaps are cubes. To […]

Principles to enhance research integrity and avoid ‘publish or perish’ in academia

Science Daily  July 16, 2020 An international team of researchers (Canada, the Netherlands, UK, Australia, China, Austria) has developed the Hong Kong Principles (HKPs) as part of the 6th World Conference on Research Integrity with specific focus on the need to drive research improvement through ensuring that researchers are explicitly recognized and rewarded for behaviors that strengthen research integrity. They present five principles: responsible research practices; transparent reporting; open science (open research); valuing a diversity of types of research; and recognizing all contributions to research and scholarly activity. For each principle, they provide a rationale for its inclusion and provide […]

Innovators Under 35, 2020

MIT Technology Review  June 24, 2020 Every year the magazine highlights the projects young innovators are working on to show at least some of the possible directions that technology will take in the coming decade. This contest generates more than 500 nominations each year. The editors then face the task of picking 100 semifinalists to put in front of our 25 judges who have expertise in artificial intelligence, biotechnology, software, energy, materials, and so on. With the invaluable help of these rankings, the editors pick the final list of 35…read more. 

Quantum ‘fifth state of matter’ observed in space for first time

Phys.org  June 11, 2020 Scientists believe Bose-Einstein Condensates (BEC) contain vital clues to mysterious phenomena such as dark energy. As they are extremely fragile it is nearly impossible for scientists to study BEC on Earth, where gravity interferes with the magnetic fields required to hold them in place for observation. Last week a team of NASA scientists unveiled the first results from BEC experiments aboard the International Space Station, where particles can be manipulated. An international team of researchers (USA -Caltech, Germany) documents several startling differences in the properties of BECs created on Earth and those aboard the ISS. BECs […]

When Scientists Find Nothing: The Value of Null Results

Inside Science  June 3, 2020 Some of the most significant physics discoveries in the past decade, notably the detections of the Higgs boson by the Large Hadron Collider and gravitational waves by the LIGO collaboration, happened only after decades of null results helped fine-tune the experimental efforts that eventually made the discoveries. In science, these “failures” are sometimes known by their less disparaging name — null results. They are an integral part of the exploratory nature of research. Finding a way to share this seemingly boring information can save scientists from repeating each other’s mistakes. If we ever do find […]

Einstein’s two mistakes

Phys.org  May 26, 2020 According to researchers in France Einstein is an example of an inventive and free spirit; yet he kept his biases. His “first mistake” can be summed up saying: “I refuse to believe in a beginning of the universe.” However, experiments proved him wrong. His verdict on God playing dice means, “I refuse to believe in chance”. Yet quantum mechanics involves obligatory randomness. Einstein was stubborn in his refusal. For him, the human brain should be capable of knowing what the universe is. With a lot more modesty, Heisenberg teaches us that physics is limited to describing […]

The mystique of mathematics: 5 beautiful math phenomena

Phys.org  May 20, 2020 According to a researcher in Australia mathematics is visible everywhere in nature, even where we are not expecting it. It can help explain the way galaxies spiral, a seashell curves, patterns replicate, and rivers bend. Some of his favorite connections between maths and beauty are Symmetry—but with a touch of surprise, Fractals: infinite and ghostly, Pi: an unknowable truth, A golden and ancient ratio, and A paradox closer to magic…read more. 2018 TEDx talk on The emotions of mathematics 

New findings suggest laws of nature ‘downright weird,’ not as constant as previously thought

Phys.org  April 27, 2020 An international team of researchers (Australia, UK, Poland, USA – Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Harvard University, Portugal, Germany, Italy) reported that four new measurements of light emitted from a quasar 13 billion light years away reaffirm past studies that found tiny variations in the fine structure constant which is used as a measure of the strength of the electromagnetic force. They made four measurements of the fine constant along the one line of sight to this quasar. Individual measurements did not provide any conclusive answer as to whether there were perceptible changes in the electromagnetic force. […]

New findings suggest laws of nature ‘downright weird,’ not as constant as previously thought

Phys.org  April 27, 2020 An international team of researchers (Australia, UK, Poland, USA – Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Harvard University, Portugal, Germany, Italy) reported that four new measurements of light emitted from a quasar 13 billion light years away reaffirm past studies that found tiny variations in the fine structure constant which is used as a measure of the strength of the electromagnetic force, one of the four fundamental forces in nature. They made four measurements of the fine constant along the one line of sight to this quasar. Individually, the four measurements did not provide any conclusive answer as […]

Publishers try out alternative pathways to open access

Science Magazine  March 13, 2020 Article-processing fees (APCs) can run several thousand dollars per paper. Two non-profit publishers, Annual Review and ACM, have debuted new ways to support Open Access journals without shifting the burden entirely to authors. In the Annual Reviews model to make a journal freely available, institutions would be asked for a contribution equivalent to their previous subscription—minus a 5% discount that Annual Reviews to retain a critical mass of paying institutions. It will reimpose paywalls and rescind the discount if not enough subscribers renew each year. ACM is asking the institutions that publish the most papers […]