The Tokamak Fusion Reactor

Following the advancements achieved recently by the JET laboratory in Oxfordshire, humanity stands one step closer to commercialising nuclear fusion power. JET employs the magnetic confinement technique to support fusion, achieved by a device called a tokamak. The principles of tokamak reactors are outlined in this article. Why Fusion is Hard Nuclear fusion involves theContinue reading “The Tokamak Fusion Reactor”

The Mystery of Neutrino Mass

The standard model of particle physics is, perhaps ironically, written in the language of quantum field theory. Particles manifest as a consequence of the oscillatory motion of the associated fields. All known fermions, particles with half-integral spin such as the electron and the quarks, are massive particles. Fermion mass is a direct consequence of theContinue reading “The Mystery of Neutrino Mass”

Excitons

Condensed matter describes the state in which a large number of particles assemble to form a macroscopic system. Complex interactions can arise from collective phenomena within such an ensemble. In a crystalline solid, energy and momentum are transferred via exotic processes that can be accurately modelled as the propagation of subatomic particles with altered properties.Continue reading “Excitons”

The Josephson Effect

Superconducting devices are becoming a central component in a variety of new technologies. Selected for their remarkable electronic and magnetic properties, the development of materials that enter the superconducting state at reasonable temperatures has increased their practicality. In this article, we discuss the Josephson effect and investigate its applications to modern-day physics and engineering. SuperconductivityContinue reading “The Josephson Effect”

Models of Nuclear Physics

The atomic nucleus is one of the most fascinating objects in the universe. Groups of protons and neutrons, themselves composed of quarks, bind together as a result of the strong nuclear force that, at distances of around 1fm = 1×10-15m, is potent enough to overcome proton-proton electromagnetic repulsion. The continuous tug of war between theseContinue reading “Models of Nuclear Physics”

The Physics of Timekeeping

The desire to measure periods of time dates back thousands of years. The position of the Sun gave early humans the ability to estimate the proportion of the day that had passed, however clocks as we know them today didn’t make their first appearance until the 17th century. Despite their distinctive designs, most clocks areContinue reading “The Physics of Timekeeping”

Quantum Field Theory: An Introduction

Quantum field theory is the conceptual framework of modern particle physics, describing and predicting the most fundamental of physical processes with incredible success. Rising to popularity in the 1950s, the way in which QFT models particles and their interactions is both creative and notably distinct from previous theories. For every particle there is a correspondingContinue reading “Quantum Field Theory: An Introduction”

Approximating the Universe: Perturbation Theory

The theory of quantum mechanics is humanity’s most honourable attempt at describing the nature of the most fundamental building blocks of the Universe. Providing a quantitative understanding of subatomic particles and their interactions, the theory has stood up to one hundred years of experiments testing its validity with only minor deviation from observations. The agreementContinue reading “Approximating the Universe: Perturbation Theory”

Scattering: Unmasking Nature

Understanding the composition and structure of matter is perhaps the most ubiquitous objective across the physical sciences. The fundamental structures found within matter are typically on the nanometre scale and have thus proved unobservable for most of history. Following a number of developments during the 20th century, we are now capable of probing nature toContinue reading “Scattering: Unmasking Nature”

The Cosmic Microwave Background

The night sky is dark. Bar the presence of a few distant stars and our lunar companion, we look out into a void of overwhelming darkness. In 1823, astronomer Heinrich Olbers published a paper discussing how strange it was that the sky is dark and not uniformly bright with starlight, coining the term Olbers’ paradox.Continue reading “The Cosmic Microwave Background”