Picture of the Week

LUX dark matter detector

Detecting dark matter

The kind of matter and energy we can see and touch – whether it is in the form of atoms and molecules, or heat and light, only forms a tiny proportion of the content of the Universe, only about 5%. Over a quarter is dark matter, which is totally invisible but whose gravitational attraction can be detected; while over two thirds is dark energy, a force that pushes the Universe to expand ever faster.

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A rose by any other name

20 May 2013

A finite energy foliation

The picture represents a "finite energy foliation" of the 3-dimensional manifold S1 x S2 with its standard contact structure. Finite energy foliations are ways of filling 3-dimensional space with smooth surfaces that are solutions to a differential equation arising in string theory.

Such pictures can help mathematicians gain insight into problems in dynamical systems and in topology – for example, an important strand in research by Chris Wendl (UCL Mathematics) has been using finite energy foliations to try and answer the question, “how many different 4-dimensional shapes could this 3-dimensional shape be the boundary of?

One can use this particular picture to deduce that the answer is exactly one.

Credit: Chris Wendl (UCL Mathematics)




Page last modified on 20 may 13 09:37