2016 Impact factor 2.787

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EPJ E Highlight - Like a game of 'spot the difference' for disease-prone versus healthy people

Dynamical behaviour of different low-density lipoproteins as a function of temperature and pressure.

The change in behaviour of natural nanoparticles, called lipoproteins, under pressure could provide new insights to better understand the genesis of high cholesterol and atherosclerosis

Understanding common diseases sometimes boils down to grasping some of their basic mechanisms. For instance, a specific kind of natural nanoparticles, called low-density lipoproteins (LDL), are fascinating scientists because their modification plays a key role in people affected by high cholesterol. They are also known for their role in the formation of atherosclerosis. Judith Peters from the University Grenoble Alpes and the Institute Laue Langevin, Grenoble, France and colleagues from the Medical University of Graz, Austria, mimicked variations of LDL found in people affected by such diseases. They then compared their responses to temperature variations and increased pressure with those of lipoproteins found in healthy people. Their findings, recently published in EPJ E, show that the LDL from healthy people behaved differently when subjected to high pressure compared to LDL affected by the common diseases studied.

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New Editor-in-Chief for EPJD – Prof Tommaso Calarco

Prof. Tommaso Calarco

The publishers of European Physical Journal D: Atomic, Molecular, Optical and Plasma Physics are delighted to announce the appointment of a new Editor-in-Chief, Professor Tommaso Calarco of the University of Ulm, Germany.

As Director of the Institute for Complex Quantum Systems and of the Centre for Integrated Quantum Science and Technology at Ulm, Prof Calarco’s research interests cover a broad range of topics in quantum and atom optics, quantum control and quantum information, and he is a member of the High-Level Steering Committee for the Quantum Flagship of the EC.

Prof Calarco has recently joined the Editorial Board for EPJD, and will take on the Editor-in-Chief role from January 2018, succeeding Prof Vladimir Buzek, who comes to the end of his five-year term.

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EPJ Plus Highlight - Astronauts to bring asteroid back into lunar orbit

How to bring an asteroid back nearer to lunar orbit. Credits: Keck Institute for Space Studies report

Italian Space Agency presents plans to develop a robotic solar-powered spacecraft capable of displacing a near-Earth asteroid towards lunar orbit for ease of study

Future space exploration aims to fly further from Earth than ever before. Now, Italian Space Agency scientists have expressed an interest in contributing to the development of robotic technologies to bring an asteroid from beyond lunar orbit back into closer reach in order to better study it. In a paper published in EPJ Plus, Marco Tantardini and Enrico Flamini from the Italian Space Agency (ASI) make the case for taking part in the robotic phase of the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM). In addition to taking manned spaceflights deeper into space than ever before, the proposed mission would also bring some benefit for planetary science.

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EPJ Data Science Highlight - Estimating unemployment rates from Twitter user routines

Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain.
Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain

The buzz of busy commuters, as well as the lack of it, leave behind digital footprints that are rich in information about all aspects of people's lives. In EPJ Data Science, Eszter Bokányi and team analyze 63 million tweets originating all over the US for a period of 10 months, and find links between unemployment rates and and the users' Twitter activity.

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EPJ Data Science Highlight - Social media trending: real or manufactured?

Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain.
Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain

The era of "fake news" is upon us. Navigating social media is a constant exercise of judgement, but data science can be a helpful to distinguish real from fabricated trending topics. In EPJ Data Science, Emilio Ferrara and team set out to determine from very early on whether information is being organically or artificially disseminated on social media.

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EPJ B Highlight - Between extinction and survival of endangered populations

Semi-logarithmic plot of the survival probability P, vs. time t for several population sizes.

Lifetime simulation of biological populations reveals dramatic population fluctuations before extinction

Populations of endangered species reach a critical point in their life where they either survive or evolve towards extinction. Therefore, efforts to predict and even prevent the extinction of biological species require a thorough understanding of the underlying mechanisms. In a new study published in EPJ B, Hatem Barghathi and colleagues from Missouri University of Science and Technology, USA, have investigated how environmental disturbance at random times could cause strong fluctuations in the number of individuals in biological populations. This, in turn, makes extinction easier, even for large populations. They found that environmental disorder can lead to a period of slow population increase interrupted by sudden population collapses. These findings also have implications for solving the opposite problem when attempting to predict, control and eradicate population of viruses in epidemics.

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EPJ Data Science Highlight - Are your tweets feeling well? Opinion and emotion in tweets change when you get sick

©Max Pixel (edited)
©Max Pixel (edited)

Can we tell if a person is physically ill by the way they tweet? On a recently published article in the journal EPJ Data Science, researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory uncover links between the health of users and the emotional tone of their social media output.

Guest post by by Svitlana Volkova, originally published on SpringerOpen blog

Any doctor or nurse knows good public health begins with prevention. Whether it’s a severe strain of the flu or mental illness, identifying the need for help early can save lives. Social media could be the game-changing solution public health workers have been looking for. Whereas traditional data from clinics may take weeks to collect, social media streams in real time. In other words, public health workers could monitor social media like a heartbeat, and take action before people visit a doctor.

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EPJ H Highlight - How Einstein’s theory of gravitation experienced a Renaissance after World War II

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Einstein’s General Relativity’s place in history.

Journey into the post-war transformation leading to the return of General Relativity within physics

Einstein’s 1915 theory of gravitation, also known as General Relativity, is now considered one of the pillars of modern physics. It contributes to our understanding of cosmology and of fundamental interactions between particles. But that was not always the case. Between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s, General Relativity underwent a period of stagnation, during which the theory was mostly considered as a stepping-stone for a superior theory. In a special issue of EPJ H just published, historians of science and physicists actively working on General Relativity and closely related fields share their views on the process, during the post-World War II era, in particular, which saw the “Renaissance” of General Relativity, following progressive transformation of the theory into a bona fidae physics theory.

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EPJ E Highlight - Granular media friction explained: Da Vinci would be proud

Heather Shevlin / Unsplash Caption: Physicists show how solid friction affects sand grains.

New study explains how solid friction forces affect granular materials in two or more dimensions

Leonardo Da Vinci had already noticed it. There is a very peculiar dynamics of granular matter, such as dry sand or grains of wheat. When these granular particles are left on a vibrating solid surface, they are not only subject to random vibrations, they are also under the spell of solid friction forces, like the force a dry floor would exert on a brick in contact with that floor. In a study published in EPJ E, Prasenjit Das from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, India, and colleagues extended our understanding of this problem from the well-known, one-dimensional case to multiple dimensions.

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EPJ D Highlight - First aid kit in some living organisms helps fix DNA after lengthy sun exposure

Important photolyase residues for DNA binding.

New study unveils the binding mechanisms of enzymes capable of repairing DNA damaged by UV light before any risk of cellular malfunction sets in

Sunburn in living organisms is caused by ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun damaging the DNA in the cells. Many organisms, however, have an in-built mechanism for repairing the sun damage. This is possible thanks to an enzyme called DNA photolyase, which is so specialised that cryptochrome, a structurally similar molecule, is unable to do the same job. By comparing both types of molecule, physicists can understand precisely how the ability of our enzymes to repair DNA boils down to the most minute structural details. In a study published in EPJ D, Katrine Aalbæk Jepsen from the University of Southern Denmark, in Odense, and her colleague Ilia Solov'yov pinpoint the mechanism by which repair enzymes bind to the damaged site.

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Editors-in-Chief
Frank Schweitzer and Alessandro Vespignani

Conference announcements

POSMOL 2017

Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia, 22-24 July 2017