2023 Impact factor 2.6
Special Topics

EPJ Plus Highlight - Assessing the place of citizen science in modern research

Schematic PERT diagram showing selected workflows of big/complex data from the European Strategic Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRIs), and the external context of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC). This illustrative workflow shows the virtuous circle between human and machine learning

New analysis presents recommendations for EU-funded research projects on how citizen science can be deployed to ensure the best possible outcomes for both research and public engagement.

In recent years, numerous fields of research have seen an explosion in the volume and complexity of their scientific data. To keep pace with these changes, EU-funded research projects are increasingly crowdsourcing their data through citizen science projects, which allow the public to engage directly with their research.

Through a detailed analysis published in EPJ Plus, Stephen Serjeant and colleagues at The Open University present new recommendations for how citizen science should be deployed to ensure the best possible outcome for research. The team’s insights could help researchers to better understand the potential impacts of this new way of doing science.


EPJ Plus expands and refines scope of geophysics section to become Earth System Physics

EPJ Plus has both expanded and refined the scope of its geophysics section to become Earth System Physics, which is encompassing all topics and methodologies that view the rapidly growing field of Earth System Science through the lens of physics. The aim is to offer a platform for discussing fresh perspectives and understanding of the dynamics and scales connecting geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere and the forming of environments and climates. At the same time the new scope wishes to recognize and foster the transformative potential of deep learning in the field - the connections between data scientists and geoscientist are still developing, and physically-informed AI represents not just an evolution in methodology but a paradigm shift in how to conceptualize and engage with Earth System Science.

For more information please read the Editorial by Antonio Navarra, the Managing Editor of this section.

EPJ Plus Highlight - A guide for early-career researchers in computational science

A navigable guide for graduate students. Credit: ErrantScience

A new article offers a valuable guide for new graduate students starting out their careers in computational science.

In recent years, a growing number of students have embraced scientific computation as an integral component of their graduate research. Yet since many of them are new to the field, they often have little to no coding experience, or any prior knowledge of computational tools. For many students starting out in the field, this can seem daunting, and leaves them unsure of where to start.

In a new article published in EPJ Plus, a team led by Idil Ismail, a current graduate student at the University of Warwick, UK, present an introductory guide to the field for researchers embarking on new careers. The team's work will help new graduate students to navigate the complexities of scientific computation science as they begin their journey in computational science research and could ultimately help the wider field to become more transparent and inclusive.


EPJ Plus Highlight - Describing growing tissues in the language of thermodynamics

Nematic properties determine the structure and the shape of the aggregate.

New analysis shows how key properties of biological tissues can be accurately described in the mathematical language of Onsager’s variational principle, widely used to describe continually changing systems in thermodynamics.

A key feature of biological tissues is their inhomogeneity and their ability to grow via cell reproduction. To study this behaviour, it is important to describe it using equations, which account for factors including growth rates, chemical signalling, and tissue structure.

In doing this, researchers aim to develop consistent continuous descriptions of these deeply complex systems: accurately predicting properties such as cell reproduction rates, disorder, and how their growth varies in different space directions, depending on their interactions.

Through new analysis published in EPJ Plus, Joseph Ackermann and Martine Ben Amar at Sorbonne University Paris, show that tissue development can be reliably captured within ‘Onsager’s variational principle’: a mathematical framework used widely in thermodynamics.


Focus Point on Physics in the Balkans: Perspectives and Challenges

Guest editors: Luc Bergé, Goran S. Djordjević and Zoran V. Popović

One specificity of physics in the Balkans is the existence of a tradition, more than 30 years long, of organizing triennial Balkan congresses (International General Physics Conferences) within the Balkan Union of Physicists (BPU) as a platform for the presentation of the research results of hundreds of participants and their collaborators with the Balkans, from Europe and the world.

The aim of this Focus point of EPJ Plus is to contribute to an overview of the state of the art of research in physics in the Balkans. Eleven of the seventeen plenary and invited lecturers at the BPU11 Congress contributed to this issue. The Focus Point provides valuable insights and highlights results in already established areas, as well as some interesting new research avenues to pursue. This issue contains mainly original scientific papers with review elements in the fields of Solid State Physics, Physics of Materials, Econophysics, Quantum Optics and Laser Physics, Open Quantum Systems, Cosmic Rays and Hubble Tension in Cosmology, Nuclear and Collider Physics.

All articles are freely accessible until 31 May 2024. For further information, read the Editorial.

T. Mihaescu, A. Isar, Irreversibility and entropy production in two coupled bosonic modes interacting with a thermal environment. Eur. Phys. J. Plus 139, 82 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1140/epjp/s13360-024-04869-x

D. Joković et al., Application of Geant4 simulation in measurement of cosmic-ray muon flux and studies of muon-induced background. Eur. Phys. J. Plus 138, 1006 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1140/epjp/s13360-023-04639-1

V.V. Gligorov, V. Reković, Review of real-time data processing for collider experiments. Eur. Phys. J. Plus 138, 1005 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1140/epjp/s13360-023-04599-6

D. Huterer, Hubble tension. Eur. Phys. J. Plus 138, 1004 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1140/epjp/s13360-023-04591-0

B. Arbutina, Nonlinear diffusive shock acceleration of cosmic rays: quasi-thermal and non-thermal particle distributions. Eur. Phys. J. Plus 138, 863 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1140/epjp/s13360-023-04500-5

C. Farcău, Linear arrays of metal-coated microspheres: a polarization-sensitive hybrid colloidal plasmonic–photonic crystal. Eur. Phys. J. Plus 138, 827 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1140/epjp/s13360-023-04638-2

L. Stoyanov et al., Optical vortices in brief: introduction for experimentalists. Eur. Phys. J. Plus 138, 702 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1140/epjp/s13360-023-04227-3

D.B. Milošević, Application of quantum-orbit theory to atomic processes in strong tailored laser fields and terahertz pulses. Eur. Phys. J. Plus 138, 356 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1140/epjp/s13360-023-03962-x

E.V. Monaico et al., Gold coated microstructures as a platform for the preparation of semiconductor-based hybrid 3D micro-nano-architectures. Eur. Phys. J. Plus 138, 827 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1140/epjp/s13360-023-04462-8

Z. Popović, P. Miranović, Current–voltage characteristics and conductance spectra in s-wave or d-wave superconductor/ferromagnet/superconductor heterojunctions: role of Andreev reflection. Eur. Phys. J. Plus 138, 767 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1140/epjp/s13360-023-04394-3

M. Maragakis et al., Tracing technological shifts: time-series analysis of correlations between patent classes. Eur. Phys. J. Plus 138, 776 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1140/epjp/s13360-023-04344-z

EPJ Plus Highlight - Beam balance designs could elucidate the origins of dark energy

The beam balance prototype

With some improvements, the instrument could help physicists to identify the mysterious origins of dark energy.

One of the greatest problems in modern physics is to reconcile the enormous difference between the energy carried by random fluctuations in the vacuum of space, and the dark energy driving the universe’s expansion.

Through new research published in EPJ Plus, researchers led by Enrico Calloni at the University of Naples Federico II, Italy, have unveiled a prototype for an ultra-precise beam balance instrument, which they hope could be used to measure the interaction between these vacuum fluctuations and gravitational fields. With some further improvements, the instrument could eventually enable researchers to shed new light on the enigmatic origins of dark energy.


EPJ Plus Highlight - Unlocking the full potential of Auger electron spectroscopy

Different regimes of core-hole creation and recombination

A new computational approach makes more realistic assumptions about the redistribution of energy during the Auger process, improving the accuracy of Auger electron spectroscopy.

Auger electron spectroscopy (AES) is an incredibly useful technique for probing material samples – but current assumptions about the process ignore some of the key time-dependent effects it involves. So far, this has resulted in overly-simplified calculations, which have ultimately prevented the technique from reaching its full potential.

Through a new study published in EPJ Plus, Alberto Noccera at the University of British Columbia, Canada, together with Adrian Feiguin at Northeastern University, United States, developed a new computational approach which offers a more precise theoretical description of the AES process, while taking its time dependence into account. Their method could help researchers to improve their quality of material analysis across a wide array of fields: including chemistry, environmental science, and microelectronics.


EPJ Plus Highlight - Better calculations for the magnetic properties of neodymium compounds

Measuring spin-orbit transitions

Valuable magnetic properties of neodymium compounds have so far remained difficult to probe using high-energy neutron spectroscopy. A new correction to the technique could make these measurements far more feasible.

High-energy neutron scattering is a powerful tool in spectroscopy, allowing researchers to probe the physical and chemical properties of many different materials. It is especially well suited for studying the dense and complex structures of lanthanide-iron intermetallic compounds, such as the celebrated Nd2Fe14B. So far, however, researchers still haven’t figured out how to probe the material’s valuable magnetic properties using neutron scattering. In a new study published in EPJ Plus, Michael Kuz’min at Aix-Marseille University, together with Manuel Richter at Leibniz IFW Dresden, present a correction to the technique which could be used to determine the ‘exchange field’ of Nd: an important indicator of its magnetic properties.


EPJ Plus Highlight – Magnetic Shielding for Particle Detectors

Elliptical coils counter geomagnetic field interference at a detector’s base. Credit: Cabo et al. 2023

Carefully positioned wire coils can improve photodetector efficiency by counteracting Earth’s magnetic field

Particle physicists who hunt for neutrinos, cosmic-rays, and other charged particles rely on sophisticated instruments that detect very faint bursts of light given off when incident particles interact with a medium. The most common such instruments, called Cherenkov detectors, use photomultiplier tubes to capture as much of this light as possible. This provides a meaningful signal from which to glean information about the particle from whence it came. But their efficiency drops when subjected to Earth’s magnetic field.

In a study published in EPJ Plus, Sara Rodriguez Cabo, of the University of Oviedo, Spain, and her colleagues, now describe how specific arrangements of current-carrying wire coils around large cylindrical detectors can compensate for natural magnetic disturbances and shield photodetectors from it.


EPJ Plus Highlight - Beyond the Periodic Table: Superheavy Elements and Ultradense Asteroids

Graph showing the densities of all elements from Z=1 to 100, with the heavy metals labelled with red triangles. The red triangle at the top right is osmium (Z=76), the element with the highest experimentally measured mass density.

Predictions of the behaviour of super-heavy elements that have not yet been observed on Earth may help explain the properties of dense asteroids further motivating potential asteroid miners.

Some asteroids have measured densities higher than those of any elements known to exist on Earth. This suggests that they are at least partly composed of unknown types of ‘ultradense’ matter that cannot be studied by conventional physics. Jan Rafelski and his team at the Department of Physics, The University of Arizona, Tucson, USA, suggest that this could consist of superheavy elements with atomic number (Z) higher than the limit of the current Periodic Table. They modelled the properties of such elements using the Thomas-Fermi model of atomic structure, concentrating particularly on a proposed ‘island of nuclear stability’ at and around Z=164 and extending their method further to include more exotic types of ultra-dense material. This work has now been published in EPJ Plus.


Managing Editors
Sandrine Karpe and Vijala Kiruvanayagam (EDP Sciences) and Sabine Lehr (Springer-Verlag)
Dear Isabelle,
Many thanks for all the hard work. Many thanks indeed!

Peter M.A. Sloot, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Editor EPJ Special Topics 222/6, 2013

ISSN: 1951-6355 (Print Edition)
ISSN: 1951-6401 (Electronic Edition)

© EDP Sciences and Springer-Verlag