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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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Prof Richard Ellis

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

Old lab instruments go on display

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Micrometer Reading Manometer.jpg

A display consisting of 16 items used in physics teaching at UCL in the 19th and 20th centuries has been completed on the first floor of the Physics building, outside the entrance to Lab 1 (east end). The instruments were collected over a period of several years by John O’Brien, the former Laboratory Superintendent who retired in 2013, and Derek Thomas, Lab 1 technician, who prepared them for display and procured an illuminated glass case to house them.

A brand new sky from Planck

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Polarisation of the Cosmic Microwave Background

New maps from ESA's Planck satellite, forming the second major data release (February 2015) from the project, have unveiled the polarised light from the early Universe across the entire sky, revealing that the first stars formed much later than previously thought.

UCL leading the way for gender equality in physics

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UCL Main Quad

The Department of Physics & Astronomy has been recognised as a national leader in gender equality. The Institute of Physics (IOP) has named the department as a Juno Champion, joining a handful of other physics departments around the country which have made exceptional efforts to embed gender equality in physics.


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It is with great regret that we must announce the death of Dr William (Bill) M. Glencross.

Bill was a long-standing and well-respected member of the Astrophysics group and worked in the Department from 1963 to 2002. Bill’s research focussed on infrared photometery and mapping, initially achieved by flying telescopes to the edge of space using helium balloons and later through producing, modelling and testing ground and satellite based instruments. Bill loved to teach and served as the Astronomy Tutor twice.

On quantum scales, there are many second laws of thermodynamics

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Watt Steam Engine

New research from UCL has uncovered additional second laws of thermodynamics which complement the ordinary second law of thermodynamics, one of the most fundamental laws of nature. These new second laws are generally not noticeable except on very small scales, at which point, they become increasingly important.

UCL joins Graphene Flagship

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Carbon nitride graphene

A team including four UCL departments has joined the EU’s Graphene Flagship project, giving the university a foothold in one of the biggest scientific programmes currently underway.

IOP Tom Duke Prize Lecture on Biological Physics

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'Physics in biology: how to set the size of a cell' by Prof. Martin Howard, John Innes Centre

to be held Wednesday 28th January 2015 at 3pm, in the Harrie Massey Lecture Theatre,  25 Gordon Street

Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) results

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The Research Excellence Framework (REF) results were released on 18th December 2014, which determine our level of funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England for the next few years.

How bacteria drill into our cells and kill them

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Bacterial Nanodrills

A team of scientists has revealed how certain harmful bacteria drill into our cells to kill them. Their study shows how bacterial ‘nanodrills’ assemble themselves on the outer surfaces of our cells, and includes the first movie of how they then punch holes in the cells’ outer membranes. The research, published Tuesday 2nd December 2014 in the journal eLife, supports the development of new drugs that target this mechanism, which is implicated in serious diseases. The team brings together researchers from UCL, Birkbeck, University of London, the University of Leicester, and Monash University (Melbourne).

Revealed: how our bodies keep unwelcome visitors out of cell nuclei

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AFM image of nuclear pores

The structure of pores found in the nuclei of cells has been uncovered by a team of scientists led by UCL, revealing how they selectively block certain molecules from entering, in order to protect genetic material and normal cell functions. The discovery could lead to the development of new drugs against viruses that target the cell nucleus and new ways of delivering gene therapies, say the scientists behind the study.

CMMP researcher wins Aminoff Prize

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Ian Robinson

Professor Ian Robinson of the LCN has been awarded the 2015 Gregori Aminoff Prize in Crystallography.

Dark Energy Survey kicks off second season cataloguing deep space

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NGC 1398 Galaxy

The Dark Energy Survey, which has just begun its second year of observations, is gathering data about one of the most puzzling phenomena to be discovered in the past century: that the universe is not only expanding, but is doing so at an ever faster rate. Some as yet unknown force dubbed ‘dark energy’ is driving this acceleration.

UCL cosmologists weigh into the debate about neutrino mass

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First Neutrino Detection

The standard model of particle physics needs to be extended: it predicts that neutrinos have zero mass, but this does not fit with experimental data. Recent work has suggested an unexpectedly high mass for the neutrino, but UCL cosmologists say this is wrong. They argue that a low mass is more consistent with the observed properties of the universe. The Dark Energy Survey (which UCL is also involved in) will provide data that could resolve this debate in the next few years.

Congratulations to our E-Learning Development Grant Winners 2014-15

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UCL Main Quad

Congratulations to Dr Dave Bowler & Dr Daven Armoogum who have both been successful in their bids for E-Learning Development Grants this year.

Prof. Gerhard Materlik wins Glazebrook Medal prize

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Prof Gerhard Materlik

Prof. Gerhard Materlik has been commended with the Glazebrook Medal by the Institute of Physics for outstanding leadership in establishing a world-leading laboratory at the Diamond Light Source and for his innovations in X-ray diffraction physics.

All the Sky – All the Time: UK astronomers debate involvement in the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST)

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LSST 2014

Image: A combination of two renderings, showing the telescope on the summit. March 2011 (Credit LSST Corporation)

Spectrum of hot methane in astronomical objects using a comprehensive computed line list

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Spectrum of hot methane

A powerful new model to detect life on planets outside of our solar system, more accurately than ever before, has been developed by researchers from UCL Physics & Astronomy and the University of New South Wales.

LHC may falsify Leptogenesis

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LHC may falsify Leptogenesis

From experiments we know that there is an asymmetry of matter and anti-matter in our universe: The excess of baryons over anti-baryons (e.g. protons over anti-protons) could be triggered by a mechanism called leptogenesis, which is currently the most favourite explanation for many particle physicists.

"Like melting an entire iceberg with a hot poker" – UCL scientists explore the strange world of quantum phase transitions

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Quantum Phase Transitions

“What a curious feeling,” says Alice in Lewis Carroll’s tale, as she shrinks to a fraction of her size, and everything around her suddenly looks totally unfamiliar. Scientists too have to get used to these curious feelings when they examine matter on tiny scales and at low temperatures: all the behaviour we are used to seeing around us is turned on its head.

New method for measuring the temperature of nanoscale objects discovered

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Temperature of nanoscale objects

Temperature measurements in our daily life are typically performed by bringing a thermometer into contact with the object to be measured. However, measuring the temperature of nanoscale objects is a much more tricky task due to their size – up to a thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair.

Harrie Massey Lecture Theatre Campaign

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Massey LT

The UCLU are lobbying for the takeover of the Harrie Massey Lecture Theatre to turn it into a full-time performing arts centre, leaving it unavailable for teaching.

Quantum-generated probability distributions can be hard for classical machines to recreate

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Editor’s Suggestion - Physical Review Letters

Hussain Anwar, Naïri Usher and Dan Browne, together with collaborators at ICFO Barcelona and University of Sydney have discovered a new way in which quantum systems may exceed the capabilities of classical computing machines. In a quantum computer, information is processed by quantum logic gates, analogues of the NAND and XOR gates which power a classical computer, but which can generate intrinsically quantum phenomena such as superposition and entanglement. A quantum computer could solve certain problems (factorising numbers, simulating the properties of a material) much faster than the best classical algorithm for these tasks.

UCL Public Policy Lectures on Science

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New Opportunities for Science Capital: A Talk by the Rt Hon David Willetts MP

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