Physics News of the Week: a Step Closer to the Origin of Cosmic Rays and More

| September 1, 2013 | 0 Comments

Once again it’s time to take a look at what’s going on in the world of physics. To receive these news straight to your email, please register for our email newsletter.

1. On the Emergence of Complex Behavior in the Brain (August 26) 

The idea of emergence is important in a wide variety of fields. Emergence, in this case, refers to  complex behavior spontaneously emerging out of simple interactions. Emergence plays a role in economics, informatics, urban development and other fields. In many ways the most complex example of emergence is observed in our brain, where firing neurons reach a coherent state of collective, periodic firing, which is essential for brain functioning. Despite the significant progress in the field, this mechanism is still poorly understood.

Now, a new study by scientists from Spain suggests that the emergence in neuronal networks could be explained as a noise driven phenomenon. In particular, such an emergence would manifest due to  interplay between network topology and intrinsic neuronal dynamics. “From the experimental point of view, we show that in neuronal cultures, the emergence early in the development of collective spontaneous activity is dominated by the presence of activity waves that initiate in specific regions of the culture, in a similar way as it happens in vivo,”  said the lead author Javier G. Orlandi from the University of Barcelona. Read the full report here.

Brain, which so good at tackling mysteries, is itself a great mystery

2. A Step Closer to the Origin of Cosmic Rays (August 30)

With the help from the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the south pole, scientists have taken yet another step closer towards the explanation of the origin of cosmic rays. In the new study, published at Physical Review D, physicists have made new insights into the nature of cosmic rays.

As Ruzybayev (study’s author) points out in a scientific figure submitted to the journal, the cosmic-ray energy spectrum, does not follow a simple power law between the “knee” around 4 PeV and the “ankle” around 4 EeV, as previously thought. “These measurements provide new constraints that must be satisfied by any models that try to explain the acceleration and propagation of cosmic rays,” he explained. Read the full report here.

3. Ultracold Big Bang Successfully Simulates Evolution of Early Universe (August 29) 

Physicists, from the University of Chicago have reproduced a pattern resembling the cosmic microwave background radiation in a laboratory simulation of the Big Bang. To do this, they used ultracold cesium atoms in a vacuum chamber. “This is the first time an experiment like this has simulated the evolution of structure in the early universe,” said Cheng Chin, professor in physics. Read more here.

More news:

The Woman who Understood Newton
Exploded Stars Spotted With the Help of Volunteers’ Computers
Four Reasons You Shouldn’t Exist

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