The physics of condensed matter provides a unique perspective on materials and systems of environmental relevance. I discuss three ways in which concepts and methods of condensed matter physics bear upon the quest for a sustainable future. Electronic devices made from metal oxides may enable new approaches to renewable energy, such as diodes that operate at optical frequencies to directly convert the electromagnetic field of sunlight to current.
A field of physics that is growing in interest worldwide that tackles such astrophysical phenomena as the source of violent space weather and the formation of stars.
Thirty-five years after their launches in 1977, the twin Voyager spacecraft have completed the Grand Tour of the outer planets and are now exploring the outer regions of the heliosphere. Soon they will be the first man-made objects to enter and explore interstellar space. Voyager 1 crossed the termination shock of the solar wind on December 16 2004 and Voyager 2 crossed the same structure on August 30 2007. The next destination is the heliopause, the boundary between plasma and magnetic fields from the Sun and plasma and magnetic fields from our galaxy.
For more than 20 years, Hantao Ji has been interested in the converging fields of plasma physics and astrophysics, and has dedicated his career to bringing them closer together.
Looking backwards, using fossil evidence from nearby galaxies provides a plausible picture of how galaxies have formed over cosmic time. Also, going forwards, the present quite definite cosmological model, shows how perturbations grew from low amplitude fluctuations via standard physical processes to the present world. Finally, we can employ large telescopes as a time-machines – directly observing the past history of our light-cone. While none of these approaches gives results accurate to more than 5-10%, a plausible picture emerges. Massive galaxies form in two phases.
Princeton University and the Max Planck Society of Germany have joined forces in a scientific collaboration that is designed to accelerate progress in cutting-edge research ranging from harnessing fusion to understanding solar storms.
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