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IYL 2015: more readings about light

Posted By Administration, Thursday 12 February 2015
The special issue of Nature explores how scientists are pushing the properties of light to new extremes.
Visit the magazine's website to view the complete table of content.

Tags:  IYL2015  Nature  special issue 

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Physics and society: Network analysis of the Íslendinga sögur - the Sagas of Icelanders

Posted By Gina Gunaratnam, Monday 9 February 2015

The Icelandic sagas are ancient tales of brave deeds and lives and loves, with a cast of thousands – but how true to life are they? Pádraig Mac Carron and Ralph Kenna analyse the interactions between the characters and find that social networks of the Viking era were very similar to those of today.

The Íslendinga sögur – or sagas of Icelanders – purport to describe events in the period following the settling of Iceland about a thousand years ago. The sagas tell of families and feuds, of warfare and warriors, of lives and loves, betrothals and betrayals. The antiquity of the texts and their unique narrative style make them an important element of world literature. Some consider the sagas to contain information on Viking life, while others object that such tales are entirely fictional, with no basis in reality.  With overlapping plots in different texts involving thousands of characters and their interactions, their huge network of interactions makes them an ideal study for statistical analysis.

The approach follows a previous study of mythological and epic literature, which compared the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf, Homer’s Iliad and the Irish epic, Táin Bó Cuailnge [1]. One may ask questions about the bases for such tales and attempt to uncover what quantitative information may have been hidden for centuries within the pages of ancient manuscripts. For the  Íslendinga sögur  Mac Carron and Kenna gathered data for 18 narratives, five of which contain over 100 characters each. These are Njáls saga, Laxdæla saga, Vatnsdæla saga, Egils saga Skallagrímssonar and Gísla saga Súrssonar. They examined these individually in order to compare different sagas to each other. They also studied the sagas collectively – a network of 1549 characters – to gain insight into the structure of the overall saga society [2].

The networks underlying saga society have similar properties to real-world social networks; they are far more clustered than their random counterparts - Viking society is small world. Individuals in the society are connected to each other by an average path length of 5.5 – remarkably close to the six degrees of separation of modern society. A propensity to disfavour odd numbers of hostile links is related to the notion of structural balance – in the Viking era, the enemy of an enemy is a friend. Some of the family sagas are assortative, meaning that characters associate with other characters similar to themselves. The outlaw Gísla saga is by contrast disassortative. A strong overlap between the communities in Njáls saga and Laxdæla saga offers support to the theory that one saga may have been used as a source for the other.

Traditional studies of literature focus on individuals and events. This new statistical approach looks instead at the collections of interactions between characters. It offers a new and exciting way to make quantitative comparisons both between the sagas as well as to compare to other literary genres. The new approach  opens new windows for us to peer into our dim and distant past.


[1]. Mac Carron, P. and Kenna, R. (2013) Network analysis of the Íslendinga sögur – the Sagas of Icelanders. European Physical Journal B, 86, 407–415. Free to download from

[2]. Mac Carron, P. and Kenna, R. (2012) Universal properties of mythological networks.
Europhysics Letters
, 99, 28002. Free to download from

View the presentation of Ralf Kenna's work on YouTube:

Tags:  EPL Publication  European Physical Journal 

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Read about light! Publications from Elsevier, APS and Physics World

Posted By Administration, Monday 26 January 2015
Updated: Monday 26 January 2015

Elsevier selects the most downloaded articles on Optics Communications. You can read them here: 

The American Physical Society APS celebrates the International Year of Light by giving free access to papers all through 2015 at:

PhysicsWorld also publishes 10 of the best articles on light on their website.

IYL 2015 website
IYL 2015 blog
EPS Recognized Journals

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EuCheMS Brussels News Updates January 2015 is out now

Posted By Administration, Tuesday 20 January 2015

EuCheMS Brussels News Updates January 2015 provides news on the following topics and more:

  • International Year of Light
  • Commission Work Programme 2015
  • What´s New Regarding GMOs in Europe?
  • Latvian Presidency of the EU
  • Call Nominations: EuCheMS European Prize for Organometallic Chemistry 2015

Tags:  EuChems  IYL2015  Light  newsletter 

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New Fraunhofer Magazine App is now available for iPad

Posted By Administration, Monday 12 January 2015
In the app you will discover selected articles from the print edition of “Fraunhofer Magazine”, the journal for technology and innovation, we have transformed into a multimedia and interactive presentation for the iPad. The cover story, reports and interviews have been transformed into multimedia and interactive content specially for the iPad. You can dive into the fascinating world of research through the image gallery, and videos.


In the current edition 1/2015, you can experience:


- Water –  a vital resource
Fraunhofer researchers are working on system solutions and innovative ways to make the water industry sustainable.


- A peak into the solar oven
For the ITER international fusion research project, scientists are working on a sensor capable of withstanding extreme conditions.


- A view through the clouds
Automated software testing protects NASA satellite from bugs.


- Cultural journey through time and space
Climate change is endangering centuries-old murals and frescos, paintings, furniture and textiles. Researchers are searching for solutions in the “Climate for Culture” EU project.


The version is optimized for iOS 7.


Fraunhofer Magazine is the research journal of the Fraunhofer Society and appears twice yearly.

Tags:  magazine 

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EuCheMS Newsletter February 2015 is now out

Posted By Administration, Thursday 8 January 2015

News about EuCheMS and developments in chemical and molecular sciences in Europe.

In the February 2015 EuCheMS Newsletter, read about: 

  • President´s letter "Europe Should be a Chemical Free Zone"
  • Highlights from EuCheMS General Assembly 2014
  • EuCheMS Lecture Award 2014
  • Policy Updates

Tags:  EuChems  newsletter 

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Conference proceedings of E2C 2013 – 3rd European Energy Conference are on line

Posted By Administration, Monday 5 January 2015

The proceedings of the conference E2C 2013 can be read on line at the website of EPJ Web of Conferences:

The complete list of EPS conference proceedings can be found at following url:

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New issue of ALICE Matters

Posted By Administration, Monday 5 January 2015
Updated: Monday 5 January 2015

In this issue of ALICE Matters, you can read following articles:

ALICE opens new nerve centre
ALICE receives first beams
 LS1 report: ALICE ups the ante

Tags:  ALICE Matters  newsletter 

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EuCheMS Brussels News Updates December

Posted By Administration, Monday 5 January 2015

EuCheMS Brussels News Updates December 2014provides news on the following topics and more:

  • Invitation by the new EuCheMS President
  • IUPAC 2015 Distinguished Women - Call for Nominations
  • Chemistry for the Future of Europe
  • Employability of Chemists in Europe
  • Call for Experts

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GIREP: Newsletter 2/2014

Posted By Administration, Monday 10 November 2014
The October issue of the GIREP newsletter is out. You can read it here:

Tags:  education  EPS Physics Education Division  newsletter 

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