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Stellar Cellular Similarity
[ Issue 150 Page 2 ] Friday, November 25, 2016, 16:28:51 Juhoon Lee Junior Staff Reporter juhoonlee@kaist.ac.kr

     Physicist Greg Huber and his team at the University of California – Santa Barbara (UCSB) discovered a striking resemblance between the structures of a neutron star and a cellular organelle called the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Previous research by Mark Terasaki had unveiled a layered, “parking garage” shape within the interior of cells connected by helical shapes, eponymously branded “Terasaki ramps”. Such multi-tiered geometry seemed to be unique to biological structures until Huber consulted the works of nuclear physicist Charles Horowitz at Indiana University, who had also located a nearly identical structure called “nuclear pasta” within the crust of a neutron star, despite the length scale of neutron star crust being a million times smaller than that of ER. Computer simulations of the high-density star remnant indicated a formation paralleling that of “Terasaki ramps”. The revelation of such similarity between two vastly different systems – from scale to fundamental thermodynamic variables – spurred riveting research into how the “energy of a system may depend on its shape in a simple and universal way”, according to Horowitz.

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