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Features, March 2015,

Crossing borders: the DNA of physics
by H.C.W. Beijerinck

In cell culture, the physical environment plays an important role: “Everything is everywhere, but the environment selects” [1]. The education of physicists can be viewed within this framework. The Petri dish for the reproduction of physicists is a university research group. The full professor is its DNA. The selection process of new professors – new DNA – is a determining step in creating the right culture.

[1] M.W. Beijerinck and L.G.M. Baas Becking,

The acoustics of a concert hall as a linear problem
by Tapio Lokki and Jukka Pätynen

The main purpose of a concert hall is to convey sound from musicians to listeners and to reverberate the music for a more pleasant experience in the audience area. This process is linear and can be represented with impulse responses. However, by studying measured and simulated impulse responses for decades, researchers have not been able to exhaustively explain the success and reputation of certain concert halls. 

On house renovation and co-authoring: tricks of the trade to boost your h-index
by Roberto Piazza

Suppose that your house needs some restoration, and that you call a master mason asking for an estimate. If the mason replies at once that he will quote 1000 € for himself, plus 500 € for each helper apprentice, you will likely be puzzled, if not annoyed. Surely you have good reasons to complain, reasoning that the job you ask for should be remunerated with a fixed amount, irrespective of the number of labourers involved. Yet, this is not a criterion that we usually apply when evaluating the CV of an applicant for an academic position or for a grant.

The European Science Foundation: death or mid-life crisis?
by Martin Hynes

It was a 40th birthday party with a difference [1]: to celebrate a lively and eventful past (Figs. 1, 2), but with no clearly-defined future. However, what might have been a wistful event turned into a surprisingly lively one. It applauded the achievement of researchers and the great benefits of European collaboration in science. A commemorative booklet was published for the event and a number of associated events held. Highlights from the past were celebrated; but what does the future hold?


Hearing overcomes uncertainty relation and measure duration of ultrashort pulses by Marcin Majka, Paweł Sobieszczyk, Robert Gębarowski and Piotr Zieliński

The human hearing sense is an astonishingly effective signal processor. Recent experiments [1, 2, 3] suggest that it is even capable of overcoming limitations implied by the time-frequency uncertainty relation. The latter, mostly known from quantum mechanics, requires that the product of uncertainties in time and frequency, Δt∙Δf , cannot be smaller than the limiting value Δt∙Δf = (1/4π), which holds when the signal is a harmonically oscillating function with a Gaussian envelope.

[1] T. D. Rossing and A. J. M. Houtsma, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 79, 1926 (1986)
[2] J. N. Oppenheim and M. O. Magnasco, Phys. Rev. Lett. 110, 044301 (2013)
[3] M. Majka, P. Sobieszczyk, R. Gębarowski and P. Zieliński., arXiv:1404.6464 [physics.class-ph]

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EPS Executive and Staff activity for February 2015

The EPS works to support its members. Click here for the list of the activities of EPS Executive Committee and staff for the last month.
2 February: The Executive Committee meeting was organised by Elisabeth Rachlewmember of the EPS Executive Committee, and took place in Stockholm at KTH Physics – AlbaNova.