Archive by category | Editorial

Nuclear fusion: Creating artificial stars

Nuclear fusion: Creating artificial stars

Too little does the public hear about nuclear fusion — a process in which two light nuclei collide at high speed and fuse into a heavier nucleus — which is surprising considering the need for alternative energy sources and fusion’s promise to deliver limitless clean and safe energy. If the word fusion brings anything to the mind of the wider public, this is likely related to ITER, a research reactor under construction in France that has repeatedly made the news by over blowing its budget and being substantially behind schedule. Is this all there is to know about fusion? By all means, no. “Let there be light – the 100 years journey to fusion” brings the audience on a fascinating journey across time and ideas into the complex landscape of past and present fusion research.  Read more

Interactions: Iulia Georgescu

Interactions: Iulia Georgescu

Iulia Georgescu is the Chief Editor of Nature Reviews Physics. Previously, she was an editor of Nature Physics, where she managed to sneak in three original “Alice in wonderland” illustrations (1, 2, 3) and the self-declared best cover-line ever.  Read more

Spreading the love of light

Spreading the love of light

If you have been following this blog for the last few weeks you will already know that some of us at Nature Research really love the science of everything light and its applications. But we didn’t want to stop at talking about different wavelength ranges on the internet, we also wanted to go out there and talk to people directly; and this being the International Day of Light (IDL), we didn’t limit our outreach events to only one country either.  Read more

Terahertz: Entering applications

Terahertz: Entering applications

The electromagnetic spectrum spans a rich range of wavelengths – from short-wavelength, highly energetic x-rays at one end through to long-wavelength radiowaves at the other. While many regions of this spectrum have already been explored by mankind and put to good use there is one that is still largely underexploited – that of terahertz waves. Lying in the region between infrared light and microwaves, terahertz waves (photons with a frequency between ~300 GHz and 10 THz), fall into a gap between the worlds of photonics and electronics. However, in recent years scientists have been increasingly exploring how such terahertz waves can be exploited. Historically, difficulties in efficiently generating and manipulating terahertz waves served as a barrier for the area. However, several developments have changed the fortunes of the field.  Read more

Mid-Infrared: the molecular fingerprint region

Mid-Infrared: the molecular fingerprint region

Mid-infrared (mid-IR) radiation – typically defined as 2.5–10 µm wavelengths (although the exact values can vary) – is not something many of us come across in our daily lives. We can’t see it and we don’t use it for data transmission either. So, why do we care about it at all? Well, mid-infrared radiation can help us identify many materials by their characteristic spectra.  Read more

Visible spectrum: On our wavelength

Visible spectrum: On our wavelength

The Earth’s Sun emits a tremendous amount of electromagnetic radiation in the Earth’s direction. Even though the entire spectrum of light is incident on this planet, why is it that we humans only see in a tiny band that we have — rather appropriately — named the visible spectrum?  Read more

Ultraviolet radiation: Not just for a suntan

Ultraviolet radiation: Not just for a suntan

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation identifies the region of the electromagnetic spectrum where wavelengths are longer than those of X-rays. The extreme UV (XUV) range identifies light with a wavelength around 10 nm and up to 100 nm; far-UV and middle-UV regions are characterised by wavelengths between about 100 nm and 200 nm and between 200 nm and 300 nm, respectively. Near-UV radiation extends to around 400 nm, which is commonly taken as the lower value for visible wavelengths. You may wonder – why should one bother to label these intervals so diligently? While the precise boundaries of these ranges are not set in stone, the UV region peculiarly spans two different orders of magnitude in wavelength (or, equivalently, in frequency): the fastidious labels for each sub-region are there to remind us that the features and applications of light in the longer-wavelength near-UV region are distinct from those characterising short-wavelength XUV radiation, for example.  Read more

X-rays : a tale of bones, molecules and mummies

X-rays : a tale of bones, molecules and mummies

X-rays are the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that falls between gamma rays and the ultraviolet (UV) — their wavelength is of the order 0.01−10 nanometres. What’s fascinating about them is their extremely wide range of applications, going from astronomy to art.  Read more

Behind the paper: Serendipitous encounters

Behind the paper: Serendipitous encounters

If you meet an editor of the Nature journals they will likely assure you that to get published you just need good science. But, the truth is there is some luck involved too – especially for interdisciplinary work. Sometimes the editors accidentally come across gems of papers. Bart Verberck and Liesbeth Venema tell two such stories.  Read more

Nature Reviews Physics is coming!

A new Reviews journal in physics will launch soon, publishing Reviews, Perspectives, Roadmaps and much more across the whole spectrum of physics. How will it look like and why will it be relevant for you? Find all the answers in this amazing short video that the PhD comics guys created to introduce the new title to its future readers and authors!  Read more

Interactions: Tatiana Webb

Tatiana receives the prize from Robert Birgeneau

Tatiana is a 4th year graduate student at Harvard University working in Jenny Hoffman’s lab, where she uses scanning tunneling microscopy to image the electronic structure of high-temperature superconductors with atomic resolution. She was recently awarded the Martin and Beate Block Winter Award, which is given to a promising young physicist at each winter conference organized by the Aspen center for physics.  Read more

More or more diverse?

The amount of scientific literature is growing at a staggering rate. In physics alone, more than 19,000 articles were published in 2016 and this is only what is indexed by Web of Science, excluding unpublished arXiv preprints, some conference papers, technical reports and PhD theses. There is little hope that anyone can keep up with what is going on outside their area of expertise and even that is a challenge. Review articles come in handy, but even reading just the physics review articles published in 2016 is hard — there’s more than 860 of them!  Read more

Biophysics: These are the voyages of a biologist in the physics galaxy

Biophysics: These are the voyages of a biologist in the physics galaxy

Since starting my new endeavour as an Associate Editor on the Nature Reviews Materials team, I find myself often surrounded by physicists from all sorts of fields, during lunch, at the office Christmas party and at conferences. I have recently even participated in a discussion about axion particles while enjoying my burrito in the canteen. Well, to be fair, I hardly participated in this conversation, mainly owing to the fact that for the most part of it, I thought we were talking about axons in the brain. Anyhow, with a PhD in biophysics and a Postdoc in biomaterials, I still often feel like Captain Janeway in the Delta Quadrant, discovering new fields, principles, theories and yes, particles, every day – and feeling far away from home sometimes.  Read more