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Atomic, Molecular, Optical and Plasma Physics

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EPJ E Highlight - α-SAS: Improving measurements of complex molecular structures

α-SAS for Janus particles. Credit: E M Anitas.

Integrating small-angle neutron scattering with machine learning algorithms could enable more accurate measurements of complex molecular structures.

Small-angle scattering (SAS) is a powerful technique for studying nanoscale samples. So far, however, its use in research has been held back by its inability to operate without some prior knowledge of a sample’s chemical composition. Through new research published in EPJ E, Eugen Anitas at the Bogoliubov Laboratory of Theoretical Physics in Dubna, Russia, presents a more advanced approach, which integrates SAS with machine learning algorithms.

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EPJ H Highlight - The importance of the 1949 Florence conference “StatPhys I” to physics

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Top of attendance sheet of the International Congress on Statistical Mechanics, 17-20 May, 1949

The first international conference devoted to statistical mechanics was also of great importance to scientific reconstruction in post-war Italy.

International science conferences are now a fixture in the calendar of most scientists. These face-to-face meetings allow researchers to gather and exchange the latest information, thus maintaining the scientific culture of the relevant disciplines by emphasising that no one researcher is an island.

Statistical physics, or statistical mechanics as it was once known, is the branch of physics that deals with the application of statistics to large systems, usually groups of particles. It, too, has its own international conferences, the origin of which goes back to the 17th to the 20th of May 1949 when around 70 physicists from eight countries met in Florence, Italy. This conference would later come to be regarded as “StatPhys I” with StatPhys referring to International Conferences on Statistical Physics, the series of conferences organised by the IUPAP.

A new paper published in the journal EPJ H: Historical Perspectives on Contemporary Physics discusses the importance of the 1949 statistical mechanics conference not just for physics but also for Italy’s post-war reemergence. The paper is authored by Roberto Lalli, Assistant Professor at the Polytechnic University of Turin and Visiting Scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, and Paolo Politi, of the Florence Unit of the Institute for Complex Systems, who teaches statistical physics at the University of Florence.

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EPJ Web of Conferences Highlight - Quark Matter 2023 - 30th International Conference on Ultra-Relativistic Nucleus-Nucleus Collisions

The first all in-person Quark Matter conference after the pandemic was a big success.

The 30th edition of the International Conference on Ultra-relativistic Heavy-Ion Collisions, Quark Matter 2023, was held in Houston, Texas, on September 4-9, 2023.

It marked the return of a fully in-person conference ever since the pandemic necessitated many conference series, including Quark Matter, to resume online or in hybrid format. Nearly 700 participants from 28 countries, half of them graduate students and young scientists, contributed to a broad program highlighting recent results from theory and experiments conducted at a range of accelerator facilities. New opportunities from theoretical developments, experiment upgrades, and new experiments at existing or new facilities were discussed in more than 500 oral and poster presentations.

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EPJ AP: Vincent Mauchamp new Editor-in-Chief

The publishers of The European Physical Journal Applied Physics are pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Vincent Mauchamp as new Editor-in-Chief.

Vincent Mauchamp is Professor at the department of Physics of the University of Poitiers. After a master’s degree in Condensed Matter Physics, he received a PhD in materials science from the University of Nantes where he worked on the characterization of lithium-ion battery electrodes using Electron Energy-Loss Spectroscopy. After a post-doc at the INSA Lyon, he joined the Pprime institute in 2007. His research activities are now mainly focused on the electronic structure, electronic properties and functionalization of two-dimensional transition metal carbides - so-called MXenes - as probed by different kinds of spectroscopies (EELS, XPS, optical spectroscopy, XAS, etc), and combined to Density Functional Theory simulations.

EPJ AP: Philippe Moreau new Editor-in-Chief

The publishers of The European Physical Journal Applied Physics are pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Philippe Moreau as new Editor-in-Chief.

Philippe Moreau is an alumini of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Industries Chimiques (ENSIC in Nancy, France : "Grande Ecole" specialised in Chemical Engeneering). During his PhD at University of Nantes, his focus became redirected towards the study of materials and their characterisation through advanced spectroscopies (XAS, EELS...) and electronic structure calculations. While at the Cavendish Laboratory (Cambridge, England) in his postdoctoral position under the supervision of Prof. A. Howie, he developped an expertise in Electron Energy-Loss Spectroscopy in a Transmission Electron Microscope. He became Assistant Professor at the University of Nantes in 1998 and full Professor in 2019 and teaches inorganic chemistry, electron microscopy and, photon and electron based spectroscopies. He is now assisting in managing a group of 50 members developing research on materials for storage and conversion of energy.

EPJ E Topical Issue: Festschrift in honor of Philip (Fyl) Pincus

Guest Editors: David Andelman,
Jean-Marc Di Meglio, and Cyrus R. Safinya

This topical issue comprises 49 contributions covering a broad range of topics, which advance the understanding of soft and biological matter systems from physical and chemical aspects. More than 200 scientists globally contributed to this noteworthy Festschrift, which is divided into thematic categories.

The first theme is focused on equilibrium and non-equilibrium soft matter systems, including topics associated with polymers and colloidal systems, in uncharged and charged systems, where Pincus has made lasting contributions. In addition, other contributions are concerned with liquids, flowing and active matter, and granular systems. The second theme groups together many contributions that are focused on biological physics, including properties of the cell cytoskeleton and associated proteins, intrinsically disordered proteins, lipid membranes, membrane-associated proteins, and assembly and interactions of viral capsids with lipids and polymers. A third group of contributions is in the nascent field of biomolecular and biomimetic materials at the crossroads between physics, chemistry, bioengineering, and materials science. Finally, systems dealing with far-from-equilibrium states of matter in biology are addressed by a few contributions focusing on the physical properties of living cells.

All articles of this collection are available here and are freely accessible until 20 August 2024. For further information read the Editorial.

Miguel A.F. Sanjuán, Member of the Royal Academy of Sciences of Spain

Miguel A.F. Sanjuan

Prof. Miguel A.F. Sanjuán, member of the EPJ Scientific Advisory Committee, will be inducted into the Royal Academy of Sciences of Spain on Thursday, June 27th, at 6:00 PM.
On this occasion, he will deliver the speech "Nonlinear Dynamics, Chaos and Complexity: Interdisciplinarity in the Sciences". The response speech will be delivered by Prof. Dr. Jesús María Sanz-Serna, the current President of the Academy.
The ceremony can be followed on Youtube: [Real Academia de Ciencias Exactas, Físicas y Naturales de España] (https://www.youtube.com/@realacademiadecienciasexac6019/streams).

EPJ Plus Highlight - Assessing the place of citizen science in modern research

Schematic PERT diagram showing selected workflows of big/complex data from the European Strategic Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRIs), and the external context of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC). This illustrative workflow shows the virtuous circle between human and machine learning

New analysis presents recommendations for EU-funded research projects on how citizen science can be deployed to ensure the best possible outcomes for both research and public engagement.

In recent years, numerous fields of research have seen an explosion in the volume and complexity of their scientific data. To keep pace with these changes, EU-funded research projects are increasingly crowdsourcing their data through citizen science projects, which allow the public to engage directly with their research.

Through a detailed analysis published in EPJ Plus, Stephen Serjeant and colleagues at The Open University present new recommendations for how citizen science should be deployed to ensure the best possible outcome for research. The team’s insights could help researchers to better understand the potential impacts of this new way of doing science.

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EPJ E Highlight - Tuning the movement of a self-propelled robot to the physics of living matter

The team’s dynamic robot model. Credit: S. Paramanick., EPJ E (2024)

The two-wheeled robot employs a range of complex active dynamics that can be implemented with precise control.

Robots are becoming an increasingly important part of our lives, performing jobs that are too dangerous for humans. This can often involve navigating complex environments, something rigid-bodied autonomous robots find difficult. Such robots faced similar challenges when miniaturised and used to model physics of living matter.

These challenges could be countered by a robot that can move with the mobility of living things and can respond to environmental signals just like a cellular organism. To model such systems experimentally, it is necessary to develop a tunable system that can replicate life-like dynamics.

In a new paper in the EPJ E, the authors, including Nitin Kumar from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay and his co-authors, describe the development of a scheme for generating tunable active dynamics in a self-propelled robotic device. The result is a two-wheeled robot that utilizes a simple differential-drive mechanism, enabling a range of complex active dynamics to be implemented with precise control.

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EPJ D Highlight - Determining Refractive Index at Relativistic Speeds

A ray of light refracted through a glass slab. Copyright: Public domain (by ajistai).

Ideas first posed by seventeenth-century physicists have been extended in determining the mechanical refractive index of particles travelling at speeds close to that of light.

If you studied advanced physics at high school, there’s a good chance that you remember Snell’s law, which states how a ray of light bends when it crosses a boundary between two media. According to this law, the ratio of the sines of the incident and refracted angles is a non-universal constant, later understood as the relative refractive index of the refracting medium with respect to the incident one.

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Editors-in-Chief
A. Beige, J. Burgdörfer and S. Ptasinska
It has been a pleasure for me accepting the referee's commitment for your journal and I am hopeful to collaborate with you again in the future.

Simone Panaro

ISSN (Print Edition): 1434-6060
ISSN (Electronic Edition): 1434-6079

© EDP Sciences, Società Italiana di Fisica and Springer-Verlag