- Published on 27 November 2018
Modern Astronomy is a multidisciplinary science that evolved widely with respect to old traditional and romantic discipline made at a telescope, observing stars and taking notes of their movements in the sky. Nowadays, high-resolution stellar spectra from gigantic reflectors like VLT, images of planets and distant galaxies made at infrared wavelengths where cool matter or redshifted objects are best seen, high-definition maps of galaxies and the cosmos provided by space-borne telescopes are invaluable sources of data. However, they give us only a partial vision of the universe, which, to be studied and understood, needs to be scrutinized not only in the electromagnetic spectrum but also through probes of different nature, such as high energy particles (cosmic rays) accelerated by Galactic mechanisms, neutrinos from nuclear processes and gravitational waves from space-time perturbations. In this much broader picture, "classical" astronomers, stellar physicists, experts of nucleosynthesis, nuclear and particle physicists and geochemists work together to study the universe and understand its formation and evolution. Since many experts in different fields are needed to undertake this arduous task, it is crucial that the training of young researchers be focused both on providing them with a general physical background, and on specializing them in some specific field among those mentioned.
This focus point aims to give the students and general readers an overview on the state of the art of modern research in stellar modelling and nucleosynthesis, in Gamma- and X-ray astronomy, in astro-particle physics, and in experimental low-energy nuclear astrophysics.
EPJ Plus article on Breast cancer: latest improvements in mammography selected for Springer Nature Grand Challenges Programme
- Published on 20 November 2018
A novel technique provides high performance in the analysis of mammographic images
Breast cancer is a disease predominantly affecting females and in the last decades the incidence rate rose. Nowadays, main risk factors, apart from genetic predisposition, include obesity, physical inactivity, hormone replacement therapy during menopause, and alcohol consumption. During the 1980s and 1990s, mammography screening has taken hold detecting many new cases. This technique takes advantage of low energy X-rays to examine breast tissues and early detect masses or microcalcifications, which are cancer’s ‘alarm bells’. Major issues in mammography concern the development of methods allowing a fast and clear interpretation of the collected screening images.
A group of scientists (B. Mughal et al.) reports on the European Physical Journal Plus (EPJ Plus) a new technique to improve the screening images reconstruction in order to achieve high accuracy.
EPJ Plus article on first steps towards microplastics regulation in Europe selected for Springer Nature Grand Challenges Programme
- Published on 07 November 2018
In modern times, assessing the impact of climate change on the vulnerability of radiological practices is necessary to implement risk management policies and secure facilities.Scientific, political and socio-economic aspects of the dossier on plastic pollution solicited by the European Commission.
In November 2017, as part of the EU Plastics Strategy, the European Commission (EC) requested that the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) develop a dossier on microplastics' restriction under REACH. REACH is a EU chemical regulation adopted in 2006, and its aims are the protection of human health and the environment.
The requested restriction process concerns not only environmental and health risk assessments but is closely related to socio-economic impacts within the union. Therefore, several EU committees, such as the Risk Assessment Committee (RA) and the Committee for Socio-Economic Analysis (SEA) are involved in the examination of the preparatory study submitted by ECHA.
The whole restriction process is clearly described by E. Kentin in European Physical Journal Plus (EPJ Plus).
EPJ Plus article on climate change and safety implications selected for Springer Nature Grand Challenges Programme
- Published on 16 October 2018
In modern times, assessing the impact of climate change on the vulnerability of radiological practices is necessary to implement risk management policies and secure facilities.
Global warming goes hand in hand with increasing instances of climate-related natural disasters such as storms, droughts, floods, and rainfalls. The effects of climate change, beyond having a tremendous impact on ecosystems, are also remarkable risk factors for anthropogenic systems (some examples include infrastructure, agriculture, and tourism).
In Europe, flooding events have increased in the last few years, particularly in the Mediterranean region, which has a high climatic risk because of its complex orography and the presence of human activities.
In the European Physical Journal Plus, G. M. Contessa et al. analyze the influence of climate change on human activities involving ionizing radiation in Italy.
- Published on 05 October 2018
History revealed by integrating multiple layers of clues from medieval village remnants
Archaeologists now have new tools for studying the development of medieval villages and the transformation of the historical landscapes surrounding them. In a study recently published in EPJ Plus, scientists have attempted to reconstruct the history of Zornoztegi, an abandoned medieval village located in the Basque Country, Spain. To do so they rely on the various analysis methods available to archaeologists, including radiocarbon dating, archaeological and historical records, archaeobotanical and optical microscope analyses of samples found on the site, together with a statistical analysis model. Paola Ricci from the University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli” in Italy and colleagues used this approach to establish the history of the village in the time leading up to the Middle Ages.
- Published on 17 September 2018
Will the oceans be clean again? - How to search for and identify microplastics in the marine environment using digital holography.
In recent years the pollution of soil and oceans has drastically increased, affecting the food chain and consequently causing damage to plant life, contaminating fauna and damaging human health.
Among the major contaminants, microplastics play a relevant role and even though several techniques have been proposed to analyse the presence of such material in water, the overall data are largely incomplete. A group of Italian researchers (F. Merola et al.) have proposed using a non-invasive technique based on digital holography to search for and reconstruct the shape of different types of microplastics in water.
They report in the European Physical Journal Plus (EPJ Plus) how it is possible to identify different fragments of the most used types of plastic (such as PET, PVC, PP, PE and PS), which heavily contaminate the seas, and how this high-resolution technique is able to distinguish plastics from organisms such as diatoms, a major group of microalgae living in the marine environment.
- Published on 05 September 2018
Complexity, as far as information theory is concerned, plays an important role in extracting the amount of uncertainty in dynamics. Several entropy-based measurements have been successfully implemented to quantify the divergence of a system. Uncertainty also plays an effective role, in the field of cryptography, in generating secret keys and to design the most secure model. Recently, real applications have been implemented considering the effect of dynamical complexity, in the field of optical communications, using semiconductor lasers. This EPJ Plus Focus Point edited by Santo Banerjee is a collection of research articles based on the recent developments of communication schemes using chaos and dynamical complexity. The results have been implemented with dynamical models, circuit design, complex networks along with their applications in image, video and optical communications.
EPJ Plus Focus Point - Modelling Complex Real-World Problems with Fractal and New Trends of Fractional Differentiation
- Published on 14 August 2018
Differential operators with non-singular kernels have been suggested recently and have raised interest in many fields of science, technology and engineering. They have being recognized to have brought news tools in applied mathematics and other applied sciences, as they are able to capture and observe a more complex physical behavior of nature. One of their unique properties is crossover behavior; in particular, their ability to capture Brownian motion, stochastic processes, anomalous diffusion and power-law dependency processes. This Focus Point on Modelling Complex Real-World Problems with Fractal and New Trends of Fractional Differentiation edited by A. Atangana, Z. Hammouch, G. Mophou and K. M. Owolabi in EPJ Plus aims at capturing current developments and initiatives of these new mathematical tools in modeling real-world problems. It focuses on new numerical and analytical methods for solving the complex real-world problems arising in physics. Several new results were presented and published in this Focus Point. In particular, a revolutionary paper has led to the extension of the field of non-local operators and their applications. The particular attention devoted to these new mathematical tools leaves no doubt on the fact that the future of modeling real-worl problems relies on these operators.
- Published on 24 July 2018
Dr Valerio Lucarini, professor of Statistical Mechanics at the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Reading https://www.reading.ac.uk/maths-and-stats/, and director of the Mathematics for Planet Earth Centre https://www.reading.ac.uk/maths-and-stats/research/mathematics-of-planet-earth/Centre-for-the-Mathematics-of-Planet-Earth.aspx was one of 6 winners of the Whitehead Prize announced on 29th June 2018 by the London Mathematical Society (LMS), and was awarded with this prize for his work in statistical physics to the theory and modelling of climate dynamics, along with his pioneering leadership in mathematics applied to climate science.
- Published on 11 July 2018
A new study reveals how to best evaluate the circulation of magnetic fields around closed loops
Concerns about the effects of magnetic fields on human health require careful monitoring of our exposure to them. Mandatory exposure limits have been defined for electric and hybrid vehicle architectures, in domestic and work environments, or simply to shelter sensitive devices from unintended sources of magnetic disturbance. In a new study published in EPJ Plus, physicists Jose Manuel Ferreira and Joaquim Anacleto from the Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro University in Portugal develop a method for deriving an approximate value of the circulation around a loop of the magnetic field generated by the flow of electric current in an arbitrarily-shaped wire of a given length.