Applied Physics

In the future, it may be possible to try on clothes even when the shop is closed, thanks to
semi-transparent mirrors in interactive systems presented at the ACM UIST 2014 human-computer interface conference.

The work, led by Professor Sriram Subramanian, Dr. Diego Martinez Plasencia and Florent Bethaut from the University of Bristol’s Department of Computer Science, builds on a mirror’s ability to map a reflection to one unique point behind the mirror, independently of the observer’s location. 

When a sturdy material becomes soft and spongy, it's been damaged in some way. But when it comes to complex fluids and biological cells, things may be different.

By looking at the microscopic building blocks – known as "filaments" – of biopolymer networks, researchers from Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany and the FOM Institute AMOLF in the Netherlands, revealed (Nature Communications DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5060)  that such materials soften by undergoing a transition from an entangled spaghetti of filaments to aligned layers of bow-shaped filaments that slide past each other. 


I've lost count of how many computers I've built over the years, but I think it is safe to say that the Kano Computer was the easiest build ever. So simple a child could do it. Kano founders, Yonatan Raz-Fridman, Alex Klein, and Saul Klein, wanted to figure out what the next generation’s computer would be like, so they asked Micah, Saul’s seven-year-old son.
Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura have been award the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics "for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources". Using blue LEDs, white light can be created in a new way and that means LED lamps, which are longer-lasting and more efficient than incandescent sources.

Electricity and magnetism rule our digital world but they are really 19th century advancements still being optimized in the 21st.

In our current scheme, semiconductors process electrical information while magnetic materials enable long-term data storage but research team has discovered a way to fuse these two distinct properties in a single material.


You can build a simple circuit using two 555 Timer ICs to create an H-bridge that will drive a single motor in forward or reverse. An H-bridge circuit is often used in robotics to reverse the polarity of a motor. For example, if the motor is spinning in the forward direction, the robot will move forward and when the polarity of the motor is reversed, the motor will spin in the opposite direction and the robot will move backward.

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The diagram of the circuit resembles the letter “H” where the motor is the cross-bar and four switches form the legs.

As has been predicted for some time, there is a physics train wreck coming at the semiconductor industry - a size and speed where atoms have reached their limits. Quantum computing has remained a dream for 20 years with little progress, which means chips will have to start getting bigger again, to get better performance - or we settle for playing Angry Birds.

The present size and speed limitations of computer processors and memory could be overcome by replacing silicon with phase-change materials, which are capable of reversibly switching between two structural phases with different electrical states – one crystalline and conducting and the other glassy and insulating – in billionths of a second. 


Can sound vibrations replace pesticides? Researchers are adapting different eco-friendly methods to try and boost harvests and open up a new chapter in sustainable farming.

Scientists in Northern Italy are experimenting with what they call eco-friendly sound and odor devices to fight off insects from their cultivated fields., though environmental activists don't accept the science of pesticides that have passed registration for 40 years and genetic modification almost as long so believing they will consider sound vibrations friendly is a stretch.

A tone generator is a useful piece of test equipment used, for example, to test the frequency range of audio equipment such as your stereo or the external speakers for your iPod. A tone generator can also be used to tune a musical instrument such as a guitar. You can make a simple tone generator using a 555 Timer IC, a capacitor, potentiometer, speaker, and a power source (circuit pictured above). Here’s the schematic:

Researchers have used sound to communicate with an artificial atom, demonstrating phenomena in quantum physics using sound rather than light.

The interaction between atoms and light has been studied extensively but making acoustic waves couple to an artificial atom is a newer endeavor. An artificial atom is an example of such a quantum electrical circuit. Just like a regular atom, it can be charged up with energy which it subsequently emits in the form of a particle. This is usually a particle of light, but the atom in the Chalmers experiment is instead designed to both emit and absorb energy in the form of sound.