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”
If we are to achieve our dreams of interstellar exploration beyond our Solar System, we need to explore propulsion mechanisms that allow us to travel faster and further than current rockets. Chemical rockets used today have a low fuel-efficiency of just 35% and would take 30,000 years to reach the nearest stars outside our SolarContinue reading “Fusion Triple Product: Nuclear-Powered Rockets”
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”
Just 40% of the total satellites that orbit the Earth are active, whilst the remaining 60% amount to useless metal shooting around the planet at speeds of 28,000kph, ten times faster than the speed of a bullet. However, inactive satellites are just a small fraction of the problem. Russia recently destroyed one of its ownContinue reading “Space Debris”
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”
1.5 million years ago, the Earth experienced its most recent ice age, namely the Pleistocene glaciation. An ‘Ice age’ is a period, which can be as long as hundreds of millions of years, during which the global temperature is abnormally low. How cold exactly? Imagine the Chicago skyline under almost 3km of ice; that’s whatContinue reading “The Physics of Ice Ages”
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”
The seemingly unintuitive phenomena of capillary action, which enables liquids to rise up narrow tubes, even against external forces such as gravity, underpins the fundamental way in which nature and mechanisms in our everyday life operate. Without it, the diverse and abundant plant-life that populates Earth could not thrive, our tear ducts would not beContinue reading “The Forces behind Capillary Action“
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”
Positron emission tomography (PET) is a painless, non-invasive medical imaging technique, widely used for detection cancer, heart disease and brain disorders such as dementia. This process involves detection of metabolism within bodily tissue, enabling construction of 3-dimensional images which show how organs and tissue in the body function, rather than producing an image that solelyContinue reading “PET Scan: An Overview”
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