What is Superconductivity? (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1. The incredible phenomenon of superconductivity was discovered by Onnes in 1911. I have taken advantage of a fictional centenary celebration at Leyden, in the Netherlands, to interview some of the protagonists in this marvellous adventure and have them guide us through a reconstruction of superconductivity’s history up to its open-ended finale. […]

Brainpower or Ritual Healing?

This article is taken from the Winter 2011 issue of I, Science. Antonio Torrisi finds out why ‘never trusting a doctor’ could be a fatal mistake. Since the case of Mr. Wright in 1957, whose cancer shrunk dramatically thanks only to his deep trust in a drug that was in reality ineffective, the world of […]

What is Superconductivity? (Part 1)

The incredible phenomenon of superconductivity was discovered in 1911 and celebrated its centenary last year. The breakthrough led to a great number of further discoveries and exotic phenomena, leading in turn to technical applications such as superconductive magnets for particle accelerators, magnetic resonance imaging, maglev trains that can reach speeds of 581 km/h, transformers for […]

Mendeleev and Mendelevium

Mendeleev’s periodic table, a rectangle of colourful framed squares hanging on the walls of all chemistry departments in the world, is considered the “Gospel” of the chemist or, better, its portable version. Nowadays the periodic table is printed everywhere, from calendars to mouse-pads and bookmarks. We can say that it represents the essential order of […]

Sub-Surface Life?

This article is taken from the Winter 2011 issue of I, Science magazine Antonio Torrisi uncovers the secrets held by the mysterious Lake Vostok, Antarctica’s as-yet unexplored sub-surface lake. The Antarctic is one of the most extreme places on Earth, so it follows it would be one of the least explored. However, remote areas spark […]

Welcome to Elements

A big and warm welcome to you, kind and enthusiastic reader: a big and warm welcome to the realm of matter, which matters a lot, because it’s all related to what we are and what we are surrounded by. The idea started around a year ago with a charming and enthusiastic event hosted by The […]

Bangs and Foams

At number twenty in Gordon’s street Where Ingold’s shelter used to be A thin, tall man with Chem degree Will show you magic, but he’s no cheat. You’ll blink at bangs, flashing lights, smoke free As hydrogen meets fire you’ll grit your teeth Iodine colours will swing and light While giant bubbles and foams will […]

HECToR: The 300 million dollar computer

In April 2003 UK’s national hero of informatics, HPCx, was the second most powerful supercomputer in the world, but a new superhero was destined to substitute it within four years: HECToR’s time had arrived. HECToR, whose acronym stays for High End Computing Terascale Resources, started to be under the spotlights in October 2007 and is […]

Don’t Stop Me Now! (Race at 8.2 PetaFLOPS)

“It is unworthy of excellent men to lose hours like slaves in the labour of calculation which could safely be relegated to anyone else if machines were used”. These words, sounding a bit elitist, were pronounced by Gottfried Leibniz, the German mathematician and philosopher who dedicated his life to the foundation of the modern mathematical […]

1932: Physics goes “Anti” – Part II

In the same year as Anderson’s experiment demonstrated the existence of antimatter, another oft-overlooked discovery was made. William and Alun Hughes published an article on Nature in which they stated that in pouring soap solution drops in water, they could observe in addition to floating drops some other small drops (about 1-4 mm of diameter), […]

1932: Physics goes ‘Anti’ – Part I

The word “anti” comes from ancient Greek, which literally translates as “against” or “opposite to” and nowadays is very commonly used in many contexts from social-politics (anti-social, anti-capitalism) to medicine (antibiotics, antidepressive) and even religion (Antichrist). In 1932 “anti” prefix officially entered in the world of physical science. Carl Anderson in Pasadena, California, had started […]

A world bubbling over with bubbles

The most recent financial crisis caused by the housing bubble, which popped as subprime mortgages in the US and many Western European countries defaulted, has been having dramatic consequences in many aspects of Western Europe and US economies such as high rate of unemployment and economical policies based on ”cut if you can”. Stock market […]

WHAT SAUCE DO YOU FANCY?

        By Antonio Torrisi Friday, 1st July 2011. The first rows of the lecture theatre were full of smiling faces and eyes full of expectations. “Guys, I don’t know you but I’m in the mood for something sweet” Dave pointed to the audience.“Do you like ice-cream?” A wave of sound with mixed […]