Happy Birthday, Ernst Mach

Thomas Forrister February 18, 2019

Ernst Mach made many significant contributions to the fields of wave dynamics, optics, mechanics, and more. A physicist by education and profession, his interest in psychology and philosophy sharpened his thoughts about physics, helping him make connections that he might not have otherwise made. In particular, Mach’s outlook on how we experience sensations from external stimuli informed his approach to physics experiments and led him to exciting discoveries.

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Thomas Forrister February 6, 2019

A doctor sits down and discusses treatment options with a patient that has coronary artery disease. Typically, a stenting procedure is used to increase blood flow to the heart, but there are complications: The arteries around this patient’s heart have an atypical anatomy. Fortunately, there are self-expanding stents, which can provide the desired fit and even adapt to vessel changes over time. Here, we use simulation to examine how such stents expand to the artery diameter.

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Thomas Forrister January 29, 2019

When you think of fire protection measures, what might come to mind first is the logistics of getting everyone out of the building safely (i.e., without exposure to hazardous smoke, chemicals, and hot temperatures). Supporting these procedures are active measures like alarm and sprinkler systems, and passive measures built into the structure to minimize damage. To ensure that a building is designed with fire protection in mind, engineers can simulate actions on structures exposed to fire.

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Thomas Forrister January 18, 2019

You just got the latest smartphone, game console, or tablet. Eager to use it, you set it down to read the directions — but your child grabs it and starts shaking it around. The good news is that the device probably still works, as the internal electronic components have to be certified to function after experiencing certain shock loads. To analyze the shock response of an electronic part (like a circuit board), engineers can use numerical modeling.

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Thomas Forrister December 26, 2018

Radioactive materials have a long half-life, so they must be stored safely — usually in steel drums. These drums are then stored in confinement systems, which are designed with safety in mind (so that they can resist, for instance, a fire event exceeding two hours). Sogin, the state-owned company responsible for the Italian nuclear sites decommissioning and radioactive waste management, evaluated the fire resistance of a confinement system overpack using the COMSOL Multiphysics® software.

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Thomas Forrister December 17, 2018

Émilie du Châtelet was a French physicist, natural philosopher, and mathematician who contributed to our understanding of Newtonian mechanics. Her translation of Sir Isaac Newton’s book the Principia is considered the standard version in French today. In addition to translating this work, she included her own commentary, adding a conservation law for total energy that emphasizes the role of kinetic energy. She is also famous for her masterful textbook, Foundations of Physics, which takes a philosophical approach to the sciences.

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Thomas Forrister December 5, 2018

Heart failure is a global health concern, affecting millions of people and keeping them from their everyday lives. But what if there was a device that could keep patients’ hearts pumping and even improve their quality of life? In his keynote presentation at the COMSOL Conference 2018 Boston, Freddy Hansen from Abbott Laboratories discussed a heart pump that could do just that. If you missed his talk, you can watch a recording of the video and read a summary below.

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Thomas Forrister December 4, 2018

When modeling acoustic devices, it’s often enough to account for linear propagation alone, even though nonlinearities are always present. However, when the signaling amplitude reaches high levels in a design, nonlinear effects become important. Engineers can include nonlinear effects in simulations by taking advantage of the Nonlinear Acoustics (Westervelt) feature in the COMSOL Multiphysics® software, as demonstrated by an exponential horn example.

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Thomas Forrister November 27, 2018

Sir Horace Lamb was a British applied mathematician and professor who wrote several textbooks that became fundamental in physics. Among them is a comprehensive text that was considered the standard for hydrodynamics for many years. His work in this subject resulted in the Lamb vector, the Lamb-Oseen vortex, and Lamb surfaces. He also authored works on sound, statistics, and mechanics.

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Thomas Forrister November 22, 2018

Plastic floating at sea often winds up in debris-filled gyres, commonly known as garbage patches. These patches of plastic circulating in the ocean pose a danger to wildlife and are slowly entering the food chain. One project aims to remove this debris with floating boom technology, which is often used to contain oil spills.

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Thomas Forrister November 20, 2018

“Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure ‘science.’” — Edwin Hubble Imagine if the entire universe consisted of the Milky Way galaxy alone. Most scientists thought this was the case before astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered other galaxies. Considered the founder of extragalactic astronomy, Hubble was one of the leading 20th-century figures in observational cosmology and provided evidence that the universe expands at a constant rate.

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