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It's a small world, after all

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20 May 2019



Leuven Central

Margarethaplein 3, Leuven






It's always good to start at the beginning, but what is the beginning? In this case, we begin with the smallest parts of our universe, atoms and molecules. Today will be all about the smallest building blocks of our universe. We will hear about how they interact, how they form, how we study them even though we don’t see them, and how they can fuel a billion euro a year global industry.

Rotations, particles and forces

Israel Ramírez

Postdoctoral researcher

Although Coulomb's Law and Newton's Law that we learned in school look very similar, they are very different in the quantum world, but why? The answer comes from their "spin", or how they rotate. But what is spin?, and how is it related to space-time, and not only to space? More importantly, how do we know that particles have spin?

Spaceship Landing on Earth

KU Leuven

Rare earth elements: when rare means common

Nerea Rodriguez Rodriguez

Postdoctoral researcher

Contrary to what their name indicates, rare earth elements are not that rare in the Earth’s crust. However, they are considered to be the most critical group of metals in Europe. Why is that? The transition towards green energy largely relies on the usage of these metals, and at the same time their production is monopolized by a couple of countries. How can we ensure their supply? The answer is circular economy: transforming our waste into resources.

Nele Vandersickel.jpg

KU Leuven

Molecules in space

Taïssa Danilovich

Postdoctoral researcher, member of an ERC-funded team

Molecules are tiny particles that are all around us here on Earth: in the air we breathe, the water we drink and all living things. Molecules are also found in space, where we can use them to learn about all sorts of things, from baby stars to distant galaxies. But if we can't even see the individual molecules around us, how can we see them in space where they are very far away? In my talk I will explain how astronomers use special telescopes to identify and study all sorts of molecules in space.

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KU Leuven