Welcome to Softbites!

Softbites brings you digestible summaries of the latest research in soft matter.

If you have a soft spot for the science of bubbles, liquid crystals and other squishy materials you might have heard of soft matter! If you have not, this branch of physics is a fascinating interdisciplinary field studying various kinds of materials from gels to biological systems. They all share the fact that they are soft, which means they are not exactly solid nor liquid. For instance, if you poke a bit of foam, it will resist like a solid at short times, but it will flow at longer times.

Read our posts to find out more about soft matter!

Recent posts

Check out our latest posts!

We write about colloids, gels, biomechanics and many other squishy subjects! We are inspired by the most recent papers and the classics as well.

Mechanism of Contact between a Droplet and an Atomically Smooth Substrate

When an experiment doesn’t behave the way we expect, either our understanding of the relevant physics is flawed, or the phenomenon is more complicated than it appears. When a theoretical prediction is off by two orders of magnitude – like what was observed in this recent paper by Hua Yung Lo, Yuan Liu, and Lei Xu of the Chinese University of Hong Kong – something is seriously wrong.

Slithering Like A Snake and Beyond: Microscopy of Polymer Dynamics

Scientists often draw inspiration from biological organisms to describe phenomena, even when they are studying outside the realm of biology. Physicist Pierre-Gilles de Gennes was no exception. In 1971, after being inspired by the movement of snakes, he proposed reptation theory, or the reptation model, which has since been widely used to describe motions of polymers. As the name “reptation” suggests, de Gennes assumed polymer chains move like snakes. As shown in Figure 1, the model describes a polymer chain’s motion in an environment that is highly populated by other chains (shown in gray) by assuming that the chain is confined in a virtual tube (shown in red) formed by surrounding polymer chains. According to reptation theory, the chain wiggles through this tube, similar to a snake slithering through the woods. As one might imagine, directly imaging the snake-like slithering of polymers is a challenging affair; however, in today’s study, Maram Abadi and coworkers from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology were able to do just that with DNA chains – an example of a polymer – and compared their results to prevailing theory.

Cell migration: a tug-of-war inside your body

If you ever played tug-of-war in elementary school, you might remember that it isn’t the friendliest game. People fall over, hands get burned from holding on to the rope, and knees get scraped from falling on the ground. Although victory can be sweet, the injuries that come with it may make you never want to play the game again. Perhaps surprisingly, there is a similar ‘’tug-of-war” happening inside your body, as individual cells move around from one place to another in a process called cell migration. What’s more, this microscopic tug-of-war may help to heal those scrapes and bruises that happened in elementary school, and those that happen in your everyday life.

Who are we?

Softbites is run by a group of young scientists who want to attract a wider audience to the beautiful world of soft matter.

We are Ph.D. students and postdocs from all over the world. Writing for Softbites is a way of sharing our passion for soft matter. We would especially love to attract younger students to research by explaining fascinating research papers, which are often technical and intimidating for people outside the field.

Meet the team!

Annie Stephenson

Harvard University, Cambridge

Annie Stephenson
Managing editor

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Author since: 9/2017

Arash Manafirad

UMass, Amherst

Arash Manafirad
Recruiting manager & Webmaster

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Author since: 9/2017

Arthur Michaut

Harvard Medical School, Boston

Arthur Michaut
Founder & Webmaster

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Author since: 9/2017

Colm Kelleher

Harvard University, Cambridge

Colm Kelleher
Managing editor

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Author since: 9/2017

Foteini Delisavva

Charles University, Prague

Foteini Delisavva
Publicity manager

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Author since: 1/2018

Gilad Kaufman

Yale University, New Haven

Gilad Kaufman
Reviewer

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Author since: 9/2017

Rob Campbell

OIST, Onna-son

Rob Campbell
Style manager

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Author since: 3/2018

Sanja

Forschungszentrum, Jülich

Sanja
Publicity manager

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Author since: 2/2018

Meet the authors!

If you fell in love with a specific field of research while you were reading some posts on Softbites, feel free to get in touch with the author to ask more questions.

Our official Softbites authors, who monthly write for us:

Danny Seara

Yale University, New Haven

Danny Seara
Also Style manager!

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Author since: 2/2018

Emily Riley

DTU, Copenhagen

Emily Riley

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Author since: 3/2018

Olga Shishkov

Georgia Tech, Atlanta

Olga Shishkov

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Author since: 1/2018

Our guest Softbites authors, who occasionally write for us:

Christine Middleton

New York University, New York City

Christine Middleton

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Author since: 1/2018

Koushik S.

Raman Research Institute, Bangalore

Koushik S.

Read Koushik’s recent posts

Author since: 2/2018

Alex Klotz

MIT, Cambridge

Alex Klotz

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Author since: 2/2018

Debayan

Center for Nanoscience, Bangalore

Debayan

Read Debayan’s recent posts

Author since: 3/2018

Adam Fortais

McMaster University, Hamilton

Adam Fortais

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Author since: 5/2018

Kyle Baldwin

Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Göttingen

Kyle Baldwin

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Author since: 5/2018

Bill K. Wheatle

University of Texas, Austin

Bill K. Wheatle

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Author since: 8/2018

Matthieu Martin

Université Grenoble Alpes, France

Matthieu Martin

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Author since: 9/2018

Mauricio Gomez

CSU Fullerton

Mauricio Gomez

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Author since: 9/2018

Youngah (Karen) Kwon

Columbia University, New York

Youngah (Karen) Kwon

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Author since: 12/2018

Gregory Smith

Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Gregory Smith

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Author since: 1/2019

 Where are we from?

Become a writer

If you want to become a Softbites writer, or you just want to get in touch with us, please reach out!

 

 

Our friends

We are proud to be part of the bites family.

The eldest is Astrobites which has been writing about astrophysics since 2010. The concept has been extended to other fields of science through sister websites listed below. Have a look if you’re interested!

astrobites

chembites

evobites

geoscibites

oceanbites

particlebites

Thanks to The Lutetium Project!

Most of the beautiful pictures and videos illustrating this website have been kindly provided by our friends from the Lutetium Project. They run a YouTube channel featuring the connections between art and soft matter. You MUST check them out! Especially this video, which most of the footages illustrating this website have been extracted from.