Prague, 28 June 2017
- Published on Monday, 24 July 2017 18:30
Italian Space Agency presents plans to develop a robotic solar-powered spacecraft capable of displacing a near-Earth asteroid towards lunar orbit for ease of study
Future space exploration aims to fly further from Earth than ever before. Now, Italian Space Agency scientists have expressed an interest in contributing to the development of robotic technologies to bring an asteroid from beyond lunar orbit back into closer reach in order to better study it. In a paper published in EPJ Plus, Marco Tantardini and Enrico Flamini from the Italian Space Agency (ASI) make the case for taking part in the robotic phase of the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM). In addition to taking manned spaceflights deeper into space than ever before, the proposed mission would also bring some benefit for planetary science.
- Published on Wednesday, 12 July 2017 17:00
The buzz of busy commuters, as well as the lack of it, leave behind digital footprints that are rich in information about all aspects of people's lives. In EPJ Data Science, Eszter Bokányi and team analyze 63 million tweets originating all over the US for a period of 10 months, and find links between unemployment rates and and the users' Twitter activity.
- Published on Tuesday, 11 July 2017 18:16
The era of "fake news" is upon us. Navigating social media is a constant exercise of judgement, but data science can be a helpful to distinguish real from fabricated trending topics. In EPJ Data Science, Emilio Ferrara and team set out to determine from very early on whether information is being organically or artificially disseminated on social media.
- Published on Tuesday, 11 July 2017 18:00
Lifetime simulation of biological populations reveals dramatic population fluctuations before extinction
Populations of endangered species reach a critical point in their life where they either survive or evolve towards extinction. Therefore, efforts to predict and even prevent the extinction of biological species require a thorough understanding of the underlying mechanisms. In a new study published in EPJ B, Hatem Barghathi and colleagues from Missouri University of Science and Technology, USA, have investigated how environmental disturbance at random times could cause strong fluctuations in the number of individuals in biological populations. This, in turn, makes extinction easier, even for large populations. They found that environmental disorder can lead to a period of slow population increase interrupted by sudden population collapses. These findings also have implications for solving the opposite problem when attempting to predict, control and eradicate population of viruses in epidemics.
EPJ Data Science Highlight - Are your tweets feeling well? Opinion and emotion in tweets change when you get sick
- Published on Sunday, 02 July 2017 14:57
Can we tell if a person is physically ill by the way they tweet? On a recently published article in the journal EPJ Data Science, researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory uncover links between the health of users and the emotional tone of their social media output.
Guest post by by Svitlana Volkova, originally published on SpringerOpen blog
Any doctor or nurse knows good public health begins with prevention. Whether it’s a severe strain of the flu or mental illness, identifying the need for help early can save lives. Social media could be the game-changing solution public health workers have been looking for. Whereas traditional data from clinics may take weeks to collect, social media streams in real time. In other words, public health workers could monitor social media like a heartbeat, and take action before people visit a doctor.
- Published on Monday, 26 June 2017 23:06
Journey into the post-war transformation leading to the return of General Relativity within physics
Einstein’s 1915 theory of gravitation, also known as General Relativity, is now considered one of the pillars of modern physics. It contributes to our understanding of cosmology and of fundamental interactions between particles. But that was not always the case. Between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s, General Relativity underwent a period of stagnation, during which the theory was mostly considered as a stepping-stone for a superior theory. In a special issue of EPJ H just published, historians of science and physicists actively working on General Relativity and closely related fields share their views on the process, during the post-World War II era, in particular, which saw the “Renaissance” of General Relativity, following progressive transformation of the theory into a bona fidae physics theory.
- Published on Monday, 26 June 2017 18:10
New study explains how solid friction forces affect granular materials in two or more dimensions
Leonardo Da Vinci had already noticed it. There is a very peculiar dynamics of granular matter, such as dry sand or grains of wheat. When these granular particles are left on a vibrating solid surface, they are not only subject to random vibrations, they are also under the spell of solid friction forces, like the force a dry floor would exert on a brick in contact with that floor. In a study published in EPJ E, Prasenjit Das from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, India, and colleagues extended our understanding of this problem from the well-known, one-dimensional case to multiple dimensions.
- Published on Monday, 26 June 2017 17:52
New study unveils the binding mechanisms of enzymes capable of repairing DNA damaged by UV light before any risk of cellular malfunction sets in
Sunburn in living organisms is caused by ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun damaging the DNA in the cells. Many organisms, however, have an in-built mechanism for repairing the sun damage. This is possible thanks to an enzyme called DNA photolyase, which is so specialised that cryptochrome, a structurally similar molecule, is unable to do the same job. By comparing both types of molecule, physicists can understand precisely how the ability of our enzymes to repair DNA boils down to the most minute structural details. In a study published in EPJ D, Katrine Aalbæk Jepsen from the University of Southern Denmark, in Odense, and her colleague Ilia Solov'yov pinpoint the mechanism by which repair enzymes bind to the damaged site.
- Published on Wednesday, 14 June 2017 16:12
In high-temperature field theory applied to nuclear physics, in particular to relativistic heavy-ion collisions, it is a longstanding question how hadrons precisely transform into a quark-gluon matter and back. The change in the effective number of degrees of freedom is rather gradual than sudden, despite the identification of a single deconfinement temperature. In order to gain an insight into this issue while considering the structure of the QGP we review the spectral function approach and its main consequences for the medium properties, including the shear viscosity. The figure plots a sample spectral density on the left and the effective number of degrees of freedom (energy density relative to the free Boltzmann gas) to the right. Two thin spectral lines result in a doubled Stefan-Boltzmann limit (SB), while any finite width reduces the result down to a single SB. When spectral lines become wide, their individual contributions to energy density and pressure drops. Continuum parts have negligible contribution. This causes the melting of hadrons like butter melts in the Sun, with no latent heat in this process.
- Published on Wednesday, 14 June 2017 14:36
In the general framework of transient coupled calculations, new developments of an accurate neutron kinetics model able to characterize spatial decoupling are described, together with an application to sodium fast reactors.