Category Archives: General News

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 centerforinquiry.org 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.

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.

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.


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).


IYPT-UVa

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
.



Black hole imaging

Category : Cosmology , General News

A radiotelescope array with instruments around the planet, including the Spanish participation in IRAM, produced an image of a black hole event horizon, as announced last April 10, 2019. The result comes after a decade long effort and new developments in millimeter-wave technology (230-450 GHz).

The position of the telescopes participating in the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) and the Global mm-VLBI Array (GMVA).
The published image of the black hole at the center of Messier 87.

Jon T. Hougen

Category : General News

Jon T. Hougen passed away last January 28, 2018. A former senior researcher at NIST and Editor of Journal of Molecular Spectroscopy, he was one of the best known international figures in the field of high-resolution spectroscopy and a permanent presence in international conferences worldwide. He will be remembered by his multiple contributions, including the treatment of large-amplitude motions and the development of permutation-inversion group theory. Two volumes of Journal of Molecular Spectroscopy were dedicated to him in 2017, on the ocassion of his 80th anniversary. Despite his official retirement in 2009 he never stopped contributing with new science. You can enjoy a video of Jon at the 60th ISMS Conference.

Jon Hougen in a characteristic pose in one of his last Conferences last September 4, 2018 at the 25th HighResolution Molecular Spectroscopy meeting in Bilbao, Spain (Per Jensen appears at his right).

Ultima Thule

The end of 2018 and new year was full of space research news. In a very short time the Japanese Hayabusa2 touched an asteroid, the New Horizons spacecraft reached the Kuiper belt object Ultima Thule, and the Chinese probe Chang’e landed the Jade Rabbit 2 rover in the far side of the moon. The flyby of Ultima Thule is particularly interesting considering the distance of 6500 millions of km (equivalent to a radio attenuation of 303 dB at 7 GHz) and the fact that it was reached with about 35% of the remaining hydrazine fuel. New Horizons is expected to head towards another Kuiper object in the next years.

Two NASA images of Ultima-Thule taking in January 2019.
The Chinese lander on the far side of the moon.