Fusion Triple Product: Nuclear-Powered Rockets

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 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”

Space Debris

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”

The Physics of Ice Ages

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”

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”

The Forces behind Capillary Action

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

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”

The End of Moore’s Law

In 1965, Gordon E. Moore, the co-founder of Intel, observed that every two years the amount of transistors that could fit on a single microchip was doubling, whilst the cost of computers was halving. Moore’s Law, a projection of this historic trend, has been used since 1975 for forecasting and goal-setting in the semiconductor industry.Continue reading “The End of Moore’s Law”

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”