Archive by category | Behind the Paper

Light and matter in sync

Illustration of the electron-laser interaction, inspired by Pink Floyd’s cover art of Dark Side of the Moon. Each electron is coherently split into a wide energy spectrum (depicted by the rainbow colors). The laser light (red) has to be coupled at a precise angle to achieve the strong interaction, in which the electron simultaneously absorbs and emits hundreds of photons from the laser.

In 1934, Pavel Cherenkov discovered that when charged particles surpass the speed of light in matter, they generate an electromagnetic shockwave. A well-known analogue for this phenomenon is a sonic boom – shockwaves of sound generated when jet planes surpass the speed of sound in air. This new understanding of light–matter interactions led Cherenkov to share the 1958 Nobel Prize in Physics with Ilya Frank and Igor Tamm for his experiment and their theory. The Vavilov–Cherenkov effect has been studied extensively since then and besides being of fundamental science importance, it has led to applications in particle identification, medical imaging, quantum cascade lasers, optical frequency combs, laser-driven particle acceleration, and other areas of nonlinear optics and nanophotonics  … Read more

Behind the paper: CP violation in neutrino oscillations

Presentation of final results of the oscillation analysis. Credit: Pieyre Sylvaineat

In 1967, Andrei Sakharov proposed conditions required in the early universe for generating matter and anti-matter at different rates, to explain the abundance of matter in our universe today. Charge-Parity (CP) violating processes are essential under these conditions. Measurements of the CP violation in quarks, first performed in 1964, are too small to explain the difference, and finding other sources of CP violation is an ongoing quest in the physics community. In April 2020, the T2K collaboration published a paper in Nature suggesting large CP violation in the leptonic sector, namely in neutrino oscillations. Some of the researchers involved in the project tell us their story.  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