Applied Physics

Currently, burning fossil fuels is the main source of energy here and around the world.  Those fuels emitting greenhouse gasses are considered by most associated scientific organizations in the world as contributing to a potential global catastrophe in the making.  With this, we are critically dependent on electricity for almost every necessity we have in our standard of living. 

By Sara Rennekamp, Inside Science -- Last week's deadly derailment that sent an Amtrak Northeast Regional train careening off its tracks has many people asking how such a tragedy could happen.

New research has brought us closer to understanding the health benefits of coffee.

Monash researchers, in collaboration with Italian coffee roasting company Illycaffè, have conducted the most comprehensive study to date on how free radicals and antioxidants behave during every stage of the coffee brewing process, from intact bean to coffee brew.


Bats are masters of flight, even at night. The best pilots in World War II would have to be envious of their steep nosedives and sharp turns.

But when we think about bats and flying, most people think of echolocation and their built-in radar. But that doesn't help while banking hard left. Instead, it is the sensation of touch - bats have a unique array of sensory receptors in their wings and provide feedback to during flight. A new study in Cell Reports suggests neurons in the bat brain respond to incoming airflow over the wings, noted by touch signals, and they make rapid adjustments to wing position to optimize flight control. 


Scientists have successfully imaged thunder for the first time.

A team from Southwest Research Institute has visually captured the sound waves created by artificially triggered lightning, they reported at a joint meeting of American and Canadian geophysical societies in Montreal.

Although people see it as a flashing bolt, lightning begins as a complex process of electrostatic charges churning around in storm clouds. These charges initiate step leaders, branching veins of electricity propagating down, which subsequently lead to a main discharge channel. That channel opens a path to nearly instantaneous return strokes, which form the lightning flash as we see it.

Researchers have shown that a laser-generated microplasma in air can be used as a source of broadband terahertz radiation.

In a paper published this week in Optica, Fabrizio Buccheri and Xi-Cheng Zhang demonstrate that an approach for generating terahertz waves using intense laser pulses in air - first pioneered in 1993 - can be done with much lower power lasers, a major challenge until now. Ph.D. student and lead author Buccheri explains that they exploited the underlying physics to reduce the necessary laser power for plasma generation. He adds that it could potentially be improved for applications in the monitoring of explosives or drugs.


Researchers have used mathematical equations to shed new light on how flowing fluid hinders the movement of bacteria in their search for food. Many bacteria are mobile and inhabit a variety of dynamic fluid environments: from turbulent oceans to medical devices such as catheters.

Since the first attempts at classifying bacteria in the 17th century, shape has been an important feature, yet it is still not fully understood how shape affects the ability of bacteria to navigate their environments.


How does our auditory system represent time within a sound? A new study investigates how temporal acoustic patterns can be represented by neural activity within auditory cortex, a major hub within the brain for the perception of sound.

Dr. Daniel Bendor, from University College London, describes a novel way that neurons in auditory cortex can encode temporal information, based on how their excitatory and inhibitory inputs get mixed together.

Your car moves when you press the accelerator and stops when you step on the brakes. In much the same way, a neuron's activity depends on the excitation and inhibition it receives from other neurons. But how these inputs combine together to make a neuron "go" or "stop" can also convey information.


The two heaviest naturally occurring radioactive elements (by atomic weight) on the earth are Uranium and Thorium.  Uranium is used as a fuel in modern commercial nuclear power reactors for electricity generation.  A lesser known fact is that thorium could also be used as a nuclear fuel .  Naturally occurring thorium is not fissile and so not able to undergo nuclear fission (separation) and as such it takes an initial nuclear reaction to enable this process.

Thermoluminescence is used on sediment 'grains', which function as natural radiation dosimeters when buried with defects or impurities, to determine age. The valid range is 1,000 to 500,000 years and the technique is used extensively in archeology and earth sciences to date artifacts and rocks.