How Black Holes Shape the Cosmos

Visualization of the intensity of shock waves in the cosmic gas (blue) around collapsed dark matter structures (orange/white). Similar to a sonic boom, the gas in these shock waves is accelerated with a jolt when impacting on the cosmic filaments and galaxies. (c) IllustrisTNG collaboration

Astrophysicists from Heidelberg, Garching, and the USA gained new insights into the formation and evolution of galaxies. They calculated how black holes influence the distribution of dark matter, how heavy elements are produced and distributed throughout the cosmos, and where magnetic fields originate. Read More →

3…2…1…Launch! Graphene goes Zero G!

Image Credit: Graphene Flagship

After a long summer of hard work in the laboratories, researchers in the Graphene Flagship are ready for two experiments this week, testing graphene technologies for space-related applications in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA). Read More →

Rethinking Laws Governing Modern Warfare

Modern warfare and terrorist acts often sees the killing of innocent civilians which presents complex challenges for the international legal framework governing the conduct of armed conflicts. Armed conflict was once mostly confined to warring nations, but increasingly it involves clashes between states and insurgent groups such as terrorists and militants. Read More →

How Big is the the Universe?

Our planet, Earth, is one of eight planets orbiting the sun. The sun is merely one of many hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy known as the Milky Way. And the Milky Way is merely one of many trillions of galaxies in the known universe. The universe is so large that it is difficult, if not impossible, to determine its size. But let’s try and do exactly that. Let’s dig a little deeper and see if we can figure out just how big it really is.  Read More →

How Species Extinction Affects Ecosystems

Research by the University of Southampton has found that methods used to predict the effect of species extinction on ecosystems could be producing inaccurate results. This is because current thinking assumes that when a species vanishes, its role within an environment is lost too. Read More →

Can Nuclear Power Meet Future Energy Demands?


An international team of scientists suggests that we must ramp up energy production by nuclear power if we are to succeed in warding off the worst effects of greenhouse gas emissions on climate change. Writing in the International Journal of Global Energy Issues [Citation below], the team suggests that beginning in 2020, we could achieve an annual electricity output of 20 terawatts without needing to develop carbon dioxide trapping and storage technology for the tens of billions of tons of emissions that would otherwise drive global warming to catastrophic levels. Read More →

Solving a 300-Year Old Murder With DNA Analysis


A skeleton was found during construction work at Leine castle in Niedersachsen, Germany in the summer of 2016. This is where Swedish count Philip Christoph Königsmarck disappeared 322 years ago – could it be him? Lund University in Sweden follows the dangerous love story between Philip Königsmarck and Georg Ludwig’s wife Sophia Dorothea through the love letters they wrote to each other, currently preserved at the University Library. Read More →

The Moral Implications of Autonomous Car Design

Autonomous Cars

The first autonomous vehicles are expected in the next few years. They should ease traffic and reduce pollution and accidents compared with today’s cars. But these self-driving cars (SDC) will face tragic dilemmas: for example, they will have to choose between saving the lives of their passengers or those of pedestrians. Read More →

How Planetary Age Reveals Water Content


Water is necessary for life as we know it, but too much water is bad for habitability. Therefore, to study the habitability of extrasolar planets, determining the abundance of water is a key element. Yann Alibert, Science Officer of PlanetS at the University of Bern, shows that the observation of exoplanets at different ages can be used to set statistical constraints on their water content – an important result for future space missions. Read More →

Planetary Striptease

Planet being stripped by host star's heat. Credit: Peter Devine

Planet being stripped by host star’s heat. Credit: Peter Devine

Planets of the “super-Earth” category lose their atmosphere through too great proximity to their star. That is the result of an international research project coordinated by astronomer Dr. Mia Lundkvist, who is doing post-doc research at the Königstuhl observatory of Heidelberg University’s Centre for Astronomy (ZAH). Read More →