Category Archives: Research

The search for our beginnings

On January 5, 2015

“Volcanologists go to volcanoes for their field work, but meteoriticists never go to asteroids!” Shogo Tachibana is an associate professor at Hokkaido University and one of the key scientists on the team behind Japan’s new Hayabusa2 mission. As he talked, he plucked from a shelf in his office a small grey rock embedded in a […]

Reflections on Rosetta

On November 19, 2014

“It’s all down to Isaac Newton now. It’s down to the laws of physics.” As the world waited to hear whether a refrigerator-sized probe had landed on a comet’s surface, European Space Agency senior science advisor Mark McCaughrean spoke to the live webfeed in Germany. “If Isaac’s friendly to us, we’ll have a great landing,” […]

The value of idealized models

On September 29, 2014

Every physicist has to know the joke about the dairy farmer. Seriously, if you don’t know it, you can’t call yourself a physicist. It really should be added to the IOP’s requirements for the accreditation of physics degrees. If you have such a degree, and none of your lecturers ever told you the joke, please […]

Is university structure anti-research?

On August 12, 2014

Last week, I suggested a collaboration between veterinary medicine and engineering. The graduate student in our School of Veterinary Medicine was interested in investigating how accurate the internet could be in tracking the progression of a disease. Meanwhile, the professor in Engineering was an expert in designing software that could extract trends from sources such […]

The laws of physics are undemocratic

On May 21, 2014

Yesterday saw the start of the Circling the Square conference at the University of Nottingham. This is a rather unusual meeting which has the lofty aim of bringing together social scientists, those in the arts and humanities, policy ‘wonks’ (for want of a better term), science communicators, and natural scientists (including physicists, of course) to […]

Teaching biological physics to undergraduates

On May 6, 2014

Back in 2005 the EPSRC International Review of Physics  said: “The Panel observed that the majority of the internationally visible biophysics research is not conducted in physics departments”. This was a sentiment that resonated with the 2008 Wakeham Review, which remarked “physics students in many departments get regrettably little exposure, if any, to modern soft […]

The planet that ought not to be there

On April 7, 2014

At the end of March, the international scientific journal Nature published a paper announcing the discovery of a new dwarf planet in the outer reaches of our Solar System. This made a lot of people very excited. It also made a lot of astronomers very confused.

Physics Focus: Our first year

On April 3, 2014

It’s our birthday: Physics Focus first began publishing a year ago today. Since then, we’ve run 78 articles from 27 different writers, and attracted more than 500 comments from readers. We’ve covered everything from supernovae to storytelling, and from nuclear to nonsense. Here are some of the highlights from our first 12 months.