In the last 15 years, the collective motion of large numbers of self-propelled objects has become an increasingly active area of research. The examples of such collective motion abound: flocks of birds, schools of fish, swarms of insects, herds of animals etc. Swarming of living creatures is believed to be critical for the population survival under harsh conditions. The ability of motile microorganisms to communicate and coordinate their motion leads to the remarkably complex self-organized structures found in bacterial biofilms. Active intracellular transport of biological molecules within the cytoskeleton has a profound effect on the cell cycle, signaling and motility. In recent years, significant progress has also been achieved in the design of synthetic self-propelled particles. Their collective motion has many advantages for performing specific robotic tasks, such as collective cargo delivery or harvesting the mechanical energy of chaotic motion.
In this focus issue we have tried to assemble papers from leading experts which we hope will provide a current snapshot of this young and rapidly expanding field of research. They cover both theoretical and experimental investigations of the dynamics of active matter on different spatial and temporal scales.
Focus on Swarming in Biological and Related Systems Lev Tsimring, Hugues Chate, Igor Aronson
Jon Butterworth: The CERN ASACUSA experiment has made an antimatter beam. It will not be used as a disintegrating death ray, but to study symmetries and invariants. This is much more interesting, and at the heart of how science tells us about our place in the universe
MIT News Quantum Mechanics May Be Proven by Distant Quasars The Escapist MIT researchers have proposed an experiment involving the observation of distant quasars that could close a final loophole and prove our universe is governed by quantum...
The Guardian Future Particle Colliders May Dwarf CERN's Enormous Large Hadron Collider Huffington Post It took three years for the world's most powerful particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), to spot the elusive Higgs boson...
No one knows ITER’s true cost, which may be incalculable, but estimates have been rising steadily, and a conservative figure rests at twenty billion dollars, a sum which makes ITER the most expensive scientific instrument on Earth. But if it is truly possible to bottle up a star, and to do so economically, the technology could solve the world’s energy problems for the next thirty million years, and help save the planet from environmental catastrophe. Thirty-five countries, representing more than half the world’s population, are invested in the project, which is so complex to finance that it requires its own currency: the ITER Unit of Account.
Imagine a ribbon roughly one hundred million times as long as it is wide. If it were a meter long, it would be 10 nanometers wide, or just a few times thicker than a DNA double helix. Scaled up to the length of a football field, it would still be less than a micrometer across — smaller than a red blood cell. Would you trust your life to that thread? What about a tether 100,000 kilometers long, one stretching from the surface of the Earth to well past geostationary orbit (GEO, 22,236 miles up), but which was still somehow narrower than your own wingspan?
The idea of climbing such a ribbon with just your body weight sounds precarious enough, but the ribbon predicted by a new report from the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) will be able to carry up to seven 20-ton payloads at once. It will serve as a tether stretching far beyond geostationary (aka geosynchronous) orbit and held taught by an anchor of roughly two million kilograms. Sending payloads up this backbone could fundamentally change the human relationship with space — every climber sent up the tether could match the space shuttle in capacity, allowing up to a “launch” every couple of days.
Forbes Researchers detect water in planet outside our solar system Penn State News Chad Bender, a research associate in the Penn State Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and a co-author of the paper, said "Planets like tau Boötes b, which are...