- Published on 01 March 2019
Exotic non-spherical shapes of nuclear matter, so called pasta phases, are possible because of the competition between the short-ranged nuclear attraction and the long-ranged Coulomb repulsion, leading to the phenomenon of Coulomb frustration, well known in statistical mechanics. Such complex phases are expected in the inner crust of neutron stars, as well as in core-collapse supernova cores.
The authors of the EPJ A (2018) 54:215 paper examine for the first time the stability of the «lasagna» phase, consisting of periodically placed slabs, by means of exact geometrical methods. Calculations are done in the framework of the compressible liquid drop model but obtained results are universal and do not depend on model parameters like surface tension and charge density. The stability analysis is done with respect to the different types of deformations corresponding to the eigenvalues of the deformation matrix.
- Published on 18 February 2019
How much does someone's living room tell about how they live? Peeking into another person's life might be just part of natural human curiosity, but the answer to this question may provide insights in a wide range of aspects of human behavior. A new study published in EPJ Data Science uses the power of machine learning to explore patterns of home decors—and what they could tell about their owners—in popular accommodation website Airbnb.
- Published on 06 February 2019
Moving around small objects using capillary forces is a phenomenon that has stimulated scientists trying to understand the fundamental mechanisms at play. It is also important for many industrial, technological and analytical processes, for example micro-fluidics, oil and gas displacement, mineral flotation, miniature robot and biomechanics. In this EPJ E topical review article Jianlin Liu and Shanpeng Li present a critical review of capillarity-driven migration in which many examples are presented and explained. The small objects in question are non-deformable objects, such as particles, rods, disks and metal sheets as well as soft objects, such as droplets and bubbles. The authors clarify some misunderstandings on the conventional views on these systems.
- Published on 06 February 2019
Model explains the mechanisms of scraping negative ions from moving surfaces under a strong electric field
When cosmic rays collide with planets or debris, they lose energy. Scientists use the collision of electrons with a moving surface to simulate this process. A new study published in EPJ D provides a rudimentary model for simulating cosmic rays’ collisions with planets by looking at the model of electrons detached from a negative ion by photons. In this work, Chinese physicists have for the first time demonstrated that they can control the dynamics of negative ion detachment via photons, or photodetachment, on a moving surface.
EPJ Plus article on microﬁber pollution in the air selected for Springer Nature Grand Challenges Programme
- Published on 28 January 2019
A new study reports on microplastic fibres in the air, which can potentially enter the human body through breathing.
Microplastics (MPs) are one of the major hot topics in environmental science. Scientists have started to investigate the impact of such pollutants in different habitats, such as oceans, rivers, soils and air. Several studies have shown that MP fibers are very common in the atmosphere. They are invisible to human eye as they are smaller than 5 mm. These fibers, which derive from different sources, float freely in the air pushed by winds. A recent study, published on EPJ Plus, evaluated microfiber pollution in the air of an intercity terminal and a university campus in the Sakarya Province, Turkey.
- Published on 25 January 2019
A new study proposes a new way of ranking universities, using a more balanced cultural view and based on 24 international editions of Wikipedia
Scientists in France have developed a new way of generating a ranking of the world’s universities that places more emphasis on the cultural perspective. In a recent study published in EPJ B, Célestin Coquidé and José Lages, affiliated with the multidisciplinary research institute UTINAM in Besançon, and Dima Shepelyansky from the CNRS in Toulouse, France, perform an analysis of Wikipedia editions in 24 languages, collected in May 2017 - previous studies pursuing a similar approach focused on data from 2013. Employing well-known ranking algorithms, they establish a Wikipedia Ranking of World Universities based on the relative cultural views of each of the 24 language-specific Wikipedia editions. Thus, they provide a more balanced view that reflects the standpoints of different cultures.
- Published on 23 January 2019
Study improves the lower boundary and secret key capacity of an encryption channel
The secure encryption of information units based on a method called quantum key distribution (QKD) involves distributing secret keys between two parties - namely, Alice, the sender, and Bob, the receiver - by using quantum systems as information carriers. However, the most advanced quantum technology, QKD, is currently limited by the channel's capacity to send or share secret bits. In a recent study published in EPJ D, Gan Wang, who is affiliated with both Peking University, Bejing, China, and the University of York, UK, and colleagues show how to better approach the secret key capacity by improving the channel's lower boundary.
- Published on 22 January 2019
New study yields more precise characterisation of monogamous and polygamous entanglement of quantum information units
Encrypted communication is achieved by sending quantum information in basic units called quantum bits, or qubits. The most basic type of quantum information processing is quantum entanglement. However, this process remains poorly understood. Better controlling quantum entanglement could help to improve quantum teleportation, the development of quantum computers, and quantum cryptography. Now, a team of Chinese physicists have focused on finding ways to enhance the reliability of quantum secret sharing. In a new study published in EPJ D, Zhaonan Zhang from Shaanxi Normal University, Xi'an, China, and colleagues provide a much finer characterisation of the distributions of entanglement in multi-qubit systems than previously available. In the context of quantum cryptography, these findings can be used to estimate the quantity of information an eavesdropper can capture regarding the secret encryption key.
EPJ Data Science Highlight - Twitter’s tampered samples: Limitations of big data sampling in social media
- Published on 16 January 2019
Social networks are widely used as sources of data in computational social science studies, and so it is of particular importance to determine whether these datasets are bias-free. In EPJ Data Science, Jürgen Pfeffer, Katja Mayer and Fred Morstatter demonstrate how Twitter’s sampling mechanism is prone to manipulation that could influence how researchers, journalists, marketeers and policy analysts interpret their data.
(Guest post by Jürgen Pfeffer, Katja Mayer and Fred Morstatter, originally published in the SpringerOpen blog)
- Published on 15 January 2019
A new study presents new models describing how the adsorption of calcium, barium and strontium ions onto biological membranes may affect the functions of cells
Ions with two positive electrical charges, such as calcium ions, play a key role in biological cell membranes. The adsorption of ions in solution onto the membrane surface is so significant that it affects the structural and functional properties of the biological cells. Specifically, ions interact with surface molecules such as a double layer of lipids, or liposomes, formed from phosphatidylcholines (PC). In a new study published in EPJ E, Izabela Dobrzyńska from the University of Białystok, Poland, develops a mathematical model describing the electrical properties of biological membranes when ions such as calcium, barium and strontium adsorb onto them at different pH levels. Her works helps shed light on how ion adsorption reduces the effective surface concentration of add-on molecules with a specific function that can take part in biochemical reactions. These factors need to be taken into account when studying the diverse phenomena that occur at the lipid membrane in living cells, such as ion transport mechanisms.