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.

Imagine you are a Sea Slug Larva…

Lost, alone, and buffeted by ocean currents: this is the beginning of life for many oceanic larvae. These tiny organisms, often only 100 micrometers in diameter, must seek a suitable new habitat by searching over length scales thousands of times their own. But searching for something you can’t see while being dragged this way and that by ocean currents can’t be easy. How do these microscopic creatures make sense of the turbulent world around them and find their home?

Are squid the key to invisibility?

While many today would associate a “cloak of invisibility” with Harry Potter, the idea of a magical item that renders the wearer invisible is not a new one. In Ancient Greek, Hades was gifted a cap of invisibility in order to overthrow the Titans, whereas in Japanese folklore, Momotarō loots a straw-cloak of invisibility from an ogre, a story which is strangely similar to the English fairytale Jack the Giant-Slayer. Looking to the future in Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry imagined a terrible foe known as the Klingons, a war-driven race that could appear at any moment from behind their cloaking devices – indeed, any modern military would bite your arm off to get hold of this kind of device. Clearly, invisibility is a concept that has captured minds across many cultures, genres, and eras, so it should be no wonder that scientists are working on making it a reality.

Mob mentality improves animal sensing

Imagine you forget to bring money for lunch, and you overhear a teacher mention that there is free pizza somewhere on the third floor of your school. If you’re alone, you might walk around the third floor, trying to detect signs of pizza  – does a room smell delicious? Do you see a suspicious stack of pizza boxes by the door to the gym? Just by using your senses, you can find the pizza. However, it is likely that there are other students on the third floor who also want free food. Maybe if you follow a crowd of students all walking in the same direction and talking about whether they want a Hawaiian or pepperoni slice, they might lead you directly to the pizza!
Which of these methods will be more effective? Following environmental signals, such as the smell of cheese, or social signals, such as the people all heading in the direction of potential pizza? In “Emergent Sensing of Complex Environments by Mobile Animal Groups,” Andrew Berdahl and colleagues seek to find out how searching in groups enhances the sensing ability of animals.

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

Read Annie’s recent posts
Author since: 9/2017

Arash Manafirad
UMass, Amherst

Arash Manafirad
Recruiting manager & Webmaster

Read Arash’s recent posts
Author since: 9/2017

Arthur Michaut
Harvard Medical School, Boston

Arthur Michaut
Founder & Webmaster

Read Arthur’s recent posts
Author since: 9/2017

Colm Kelleher
Harvard University, Cambridge

Colm Kelleher
Managing editor

Read Colm’s recent posts
Author since: 9/2017

Foteini Delisavva
Charles University, Prague

Foteini Delisavva
Publicity manager

Read Foteini’s recent posts
Author since: 1/2018

Gilad Kaufman
Yale University, New Haven

Gilad Kaufman
Reviewer

Read Gilad’s recent posts
Author since: 9/2017

Rob Campbell
OIST, Onna-son

Rob Campbell
Style manager

Read Rob’s recent posts
Author since: 3/2018

Sanja
Forschungszentrum, Jülich

Sanja
Publicity manager

Read Sanja’s recent posts
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 monthy write for us:

Danny Seara
Yale University, New Haven

Danny Seara
Also Style manager!

Read Danny’s recent posts
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

Read Olga’s recent posts
Author since: 1/2018

Our guest Softbites authors, who occasionnaly write for us:

Christine Middleton
New York University, New York City

Christine Middleton

Read Christine’s recent posts
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

Read Alex’s recent posts
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

Read Adam’s recent posts
Author since: 5/2018

Kyle Baldwin
Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Göttingen

Kyle Baldwin

Read Kyle’s recent posts
Author since: 5/2018

 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.