Serendipitous experiment

Chemistry World has informed that the group of Prof. Jens-Uwe Grabow in Hannover (Germany) recently reported a serendipitous experiment in which they observed a rare non-covalent interaction between a molecule of OCS and a Xe atom. The group was checking a microwave spectrometer when they noticed the rotational transitions from the OCS···Xe heterodimer. The original work is published in PCCP.

The PCCP TOC graphic (PCCP, 2020, 22, 5615)

COVID-19 exponentials

Category : General News

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a planetary havoc. Vinod Bhardwaj reflects in his blog in about the consequences of not understanding exponentials or math. Time to rely on science (and the WHO).

See the wonderful graphics of Our Word in Data for the COVID-19 evolution.

Total COVID-19 confirmed cases by beginning of April, from Our World in Data.


Category : Conferences , Group News , Talks

Alberto Lesarri gave a plenary talk at the Spectroscopy and Dynamics of Molecules and Clusters (SDMC-2020) Conference, which took place the last February 20-23 in Kumbhalgarh (Rajasthan, India). The Conference was jointly organized by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT, Jodhpur)Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS, Pilani)Malaviya National Institute of Technology (Jaipur)Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (Pune), and National Chemical Laboratory (Pune). The Conference was very dynamical, providing a great opportunity for scientific exchange. This was the first and probably the last Conference this year following the COVID-19 outbreak.

Mario Bunge

Prof. Mario Bunge, a well-known philosopher of Science died last February 25, 2020. Bunge was professor of Logic and Methaphysics at the McGill University and author of many books, including Philosophy of Science, but also a longtime fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and has written several key articles on science and pseudoscience for Skeptical Inquirer.

The Bunge’s centenary Festchrift book and the cover of Phylosophy of Science.

IYPT Exhibition

Category : Books , General News , Talks , University

Prof. Javier García Martinez, Vicepresident of IUPAC 2020-22 gave a talk at the Faculty of Sciences last October 15, 2019, with the title “What is the IUPAC doing for you?“. The visit celebrated the new Exhibition on the Periodic Table organized in collaboration between the Spanish Society of Chemistry and the Faculty of Sciences. The exhibition includes all kind of periodic tables in different sizes and formats, together with an exhibition of books and bibliographic material at the Campus Library.

Prof. Javier García Martínez talks to the Faculty of Sciences.

One of the Periodic Tables in exhibition at the Faculty of Sciences.

Non-covalent interactions

We published in Chemistry: A European Journal a Minireview on rotational studies of non-covalent interactions, which appeared in the Reviews Showcase section of the Journal. In the article, entitled “The Hydrogen Bond and Beyond: Perspectives for Rotational Investigations of Non‐Covalent Interactions“, we emphasize how the new broadband microwave techniques have boosted the possibilities for analyzing larger clusters and weaker interactions with rotational resolution.

The forest of non-covalent interactions has more trees than expected. Read the minireview to check out why.

Coherent rotational dynamics

Category : General News

The group of Prof. Jochen Küpper at DESY & Uni. Hamburg have reported in Nature Communications the observation of the laser-induced rotational dynamics of OCS, or, in simple words, a “movie” of OCS rotating in the ps-scale time. In this experiment a rotational wavepacket is created on a molecular beam of OCS using two laser pulses. The beam is later probed with a third laser.

A cut of 18 picoseconds of the molecular movie of the OCS rotation (Credit: Nat. Comm. 10, 3364 (1019), Open Access under a CCA license)

A word of caution: Remember that molecular rotation is different to the rotation of a macroscopic stick, as microscopic objects are described by quantum mechanics.

Summer conferences

Category : Conferences , Group News , Talks

Our group participated in several conferences this Summer. Marcos Juanes attended the 74 International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy (ISMS) at the University of Illinois last June 17-21, presenting three oral talks. Alberto Lesarri gave oral talks at the 18 European Symposium on Gas-Phase Electron Diffraction (ESGED18) in Hirschegg (Austria), the Iberian Joint Meeting on Atomic and Molecular Physics (IBER2019) in Évora (Portugal) and the XXXVII Biannual Meeting of the Spanish Physics Society (Bienal Física 2019) in Zaragoza (Spain).

In the picture above Alberto talks at the IBER2019 in Portugal

The IBER2019 conference is the biannual meeting of the Portuguese (SPF) and Spanish (RSEF) Physics Society. The event is coorganized by the SPF and the Division of Atomic and Molecular Physics (GEFAM) of the RSEF. This year the event remembered the GEFAM founder Prof. Gerardo Delgado-Barrio (CSIC), who passed away in 2018.

New SI

Category : General News , Science news

Last May 20, 2019 became effective the redefinition of the International System of Units (SI). In the new definition the kilogram (kg), kelvin (K) and mol are defined using numerical values of the Planck constant (h), the Boltzmann constant (kB) and the Avogadro constant (NA), respectively. A SI brochure is available from the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures. Farewell to the venerable kg prototype made of Pt/Ir.

In the picture above the new SI (graphic by Emilio Pisanti in wikipedia).


Category : Books , General News , University

The Faculty of Sciences of the UVa has dedicated a Periodic Table wall poster featuring the spectra of the atomic elements, to celebrate the International Year of the Periodic Table (IYPT). This Periodic Table is a reproduction of the original work “Homage to the Elements” by visual artist Eugenia Balcells and contains a quote by Lucretius in “De rerum natura” (On the Nature of Things), written around 50BC, describing the atoms as “letters within words“.

The IYPT (and our barbaric times) are a good opportunity to read the 2012 Pulitzer winner “The Swerve” by Stephen Greenblatt, which contains a great presentation of the discovery of the book and the Epicurean Physics, which, even in a literary format, are far more reasonable than the opinions that arose in the 1500 years that followed its publication:

… atoms … are driven abroad and vexed
by blow on blow, even from all time of old,
they thus at last, after attempting all
the kinds of motion and conjoining, come
into those great arrangements out of which
this sum of things established is created