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Latest Mathematical & Physical Sciences News

In memoriam: Bruce Swinyard

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Bruce Swinyard

Today at 12pm, UCL lowered its flag in memory of Prof Bruce Swinyard (UCL Physics & Astronomy), who died after a long illness in May.

Cool summer of 2013 boosted Arctic sea ice

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Arctic ice pack

The volume of Arctic sea ice increased by a third after the summer of 2013 as the unusually cool air temperatures prevented the ice from melting, according to UCL and University of Leeds scientists. This suggests that the ice pack in the Northern hemisphere is more sensitive to changes in summer melting than it is to winter cooling, a finding which will help researchers to predict future changes in its volume.

Revealed: positronium’s behaviour in particle billiards

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Positronium beam

Collision physics can be like a game of billiards. Yet in the microscopic world, the outcome of the game is hard to predict.

A new blueprint for quantum computing with photons

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Collage of photos

Quantum computers promise a step change in computational power for some important problems, such as the simulation of the properties of solid materials and chemical reactions.

Faculty teaching award winners announced

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Grounds

We are delighted to announce this year's winners of the Faculty of Mathematical & Physical Sciences Teaching Awards.

UCL scientists recognised in IOP awards

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Thornton & Pickard

Two UCL scientists, Geoff Thornton and Chris Pickard, have been recognised in this year's Institute of Physics awards.

Winners of first UCL physics hackathon announced

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Hackathon

PhD students from UCL Physics & Astronomy took part in the department’s first ‘hackathon’ last week. In this competition, students representing the department’s five research groups competed to complete projects in just two days.

Titan’s atmosphere even more Earth-like than previously thought

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Cassini at Saturn

Scientists at UCL have observed how a widespread polar wind is driving gas from the atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan.

ESA shortlists three space missions with major UCL contributions

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Mission themes

The European Space Agency has announced the shortlisted proposals for its next mid-sized science mission.

All three proposed spacecraft have significant contributions from UCL, which means the university will be guaranteed a role regardless of which is chosen. The candidates are in the areas of exoplanet science, plasma physics and X-ray observations of high-energy phenomena, with teams including academics at UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory and UCL Physics & Astronomy.

Seeing elements transform at the atomic scale for the first time

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Chemical element morphing into another

Atoms of one chemical element morphing into another have been observed for the first time.

The research, published today in the journal Nature Materials, has unexpectedly revealed a new, safer way to potentially treat cancer with radiation.

New calculations to improve carbon dioxide monitoring from space

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CO2 Satellite

How light of different colours is absorbed by carbon dioxide (CO2) can now be accurately predicted using new calculations developed by a UCL-led team of scientists. This will help climate scientists studying Earth’s greenhouse gas emissions to better interpret data collected from satellites and ground stations measuring CO2.

Three Minute Thesis winners

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3MT - Three Minute Thesis competition

The Faculty's inaugural Three Minute Thesis competition was held on 10 June. In this competition, PhD students present their research topic in three minutes or less, with the best talks winning prizes.

SMILE space mission passes first hurdle

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SMILE

A space mission called SMILE (Solar Wind Magnetosphere Ionosphere Link Explorer) which is jointly led by UCL and the Chinese National Space Science Center has received the go-ahead for an initial study phase this summer by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

Understanding space weather's threat to the finance industry

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Canary Wharf

The risk that space weather poses to our daily lives has become more prominent in recent years.

Awareness has been enhanced by dramatic solar activity that regularly features in the media and by the inclusion of space weather in the National Risk Register. Attention is now turning to the risks posed to specific sectors and on 27 May UCL held a symposium to examine space weather risk and resilience in the financial sector.

Magnetar near supermassive black hole delivers surprises

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Magnetar

In 2013, astronomers announced they had discovered a magnetar exceptionally close to the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way using a suite of space-borne telescopes including NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Raman Prinja shortlisted for Royal Society book prize

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Night Sky Watcher

Raman Prinja, professor of astrophysics in UCL Physics & Astronomy, has been shortlisted for the Royal Society Young People's Book Prize.

Fundamental physics solves the riddle of Earth’s magnetic core

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Cohen et al image

Resistance caused by electrons bouncing off each other in Earth’s molten iron core is essential to explain how the planet’s protective magnetic field is generated, say researchers at UCL, the Carnegie Institution for Science and Rutgers University, USA.

UCL chemists recognised in awards

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Sally Price

Two UCL chemists, Sally Price and David Scanlon, have been recognised in this year's Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) awards. Meanwhile, UCL's Ivan Parkin has won the Griffith Medal of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3).

Chemistry of seabed’s hot vents could explain emergence of life

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A hot vent

Hot vents on the seabed could have spontaneously produced the organic molecules necessary for life, according to new research by UCL chemists.

Mapping the cosmos: Dark Energy Survey creates detailed guide to spotting dark matter

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Dark Energy Survey

Scientists on the Dark Energy Survey have released the first in a series of dark matter maps of the cosmos.

Richard Ellis to join UCL

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Richard Ellis

Astronomer Richard Ellis is to join UCL's Department of Physics & Astronomy as Professor of Astrophysics.

Ellis, who is currently the Steele Professor of Astronomy at Caltech, is an expert on the use of large telescopes, including a key role in developing the case for the forthcoming Thirty Meter Telescope. He is a world-leader in observational cosmology, including topics such as the evolution of galaxies, dark matter and the era of reionisation.

UCL's Ian Robinson presented with Aminoff prize

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Robinson

On the 30th March Professor Ian Robinson, the Gregori Aminoff Prize Laureate of 2015, visited Lund in Southern Sweden for the Gregori Aminoff Prize symposium that was held in his honour. 

Do Northerners talk more than Southerners?

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Twitter and the UK

There is a common stereotype that people in the North of England talk more than those in the South.

Commemorating a forty year ban on biological warfare

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Gruinard

In the Department of Science & Technology Studies, Brian Balmer, Professor of Science Policy Studies, and Alex Spelling, Research Associate in Cold War History, are working on a project: ‘Understanding Biological Disarmament: The Historical Context of the Biological Weapons Convention’, in conjunction with Dr Caitriona McLeish (University of Sussex), and the Harvard-Sussex Programme.

Your Universe festival held at UCL

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Your Universe panel discussion

The Your Universe festival was held at UCL between 26 and 28 March.

Since 2008, Francisco Diego (UCL Physics & Astronomy) has organised Your Universe, a celebration of astronomy and particle physics. The festival includes talks, panel discussions, demonstrations and hands-on experience with telescopes.

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