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Latest News

May 2016

Knots generate a Physics Buzz

An article in Physics Buzz (the blog of the American Physical Society) highlights a paper by Fabian Maucher and Paul Sutcliffe, on untangling knots, published recently in Physical Review Letters. For further information, here are the links to the blog and the paper

April 2016

Sir Michael Atiyah joins the project

We are delighted that Sir Michael Atiyah has joined the SPOCK project as a consultant. Sir Michael is a Fields Medalist and was awarded the Abel Prize in 2004

Anthony Yeates - Talk at IUTAM Symposium

Anthony recently gave a talk entitled "The global distribution of magnetic helicity in the Sun's corona" at the IUTAM Symposium on Helicity Structures and Singularity in Fluid and Plasma Dynamics, which was held in Venice, Italy from 11th to 15th April

Welcome to the SPOCK Home Page

About the Project

SPOCK (Scientific Properties of Complex Knots) is a Research Programme Grant awarded by the Leverhulme Trust, and is a collaboration between Durham University and the University of Bristol. The aim of the project is to create new computational tools and mathematical techniques for the analysis, synthesis and exploitation of knotted structures in a wide range of complex physical phenomena.

We are committed to involving the wider community, including the general public, in the work we are doing. See public outreach for further details.

Whilst current information is updated regularly, we also keep a record of previous activities. Please refer to our archive section for details of past events.

The Team

Contact details for people associated with the programme can be found on our people page.

Publications and Outputs

We will provide details of related published papers as they become available.

Information about these publications and other research outputs, can be found on our outputs page.


More about knots.....

Mathematically, a knot is a closed curve in three-dimensional space. A mathematician's knot therefore differs form knots in daily life, in that the ends must be joined together, so that the knot cannot be untied. A circle is the simplest example, but because it isn't knotted it is known as the unknot. The fundamental problem in knot theory is to determine whether a given closed curve is knotted. This unknotting problem, and more generally the identification of knots, leads to deep mathematical connections throughout the natural sciences.


Formation of Knotted Structures in Chemistry

The formation of molecular knots is a common phenomenon in chemistry. Prominent examples include DNA and even certain proteins. Currently, we are investigating dynamical knot formation in excitable media, such as knots of concentrations in the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction - a fascinating, oscillating reaction (see picture on the right). We study both their mathematical modelling as well as experimental realisation. We are also interested in knot formation within supramolecular materials, like gels. Gels are formed from many smaller molecules, called gelators.We're interested to see how these gelators arrange themselves to form a gel and how they can knot together.



Light-Matter Interaction with Knotted Light

We study the physics of knotted light fields interacting with dilute atomic vapours. We are investigating ways to map the topologically complex properties of the light field onto the state of the atomic ensemble, both theoretically and experimentally.


Knots in Anthropology

We investigate the evolution of knot diversity observed in human material culture. Our aim is to develop a suitable mathematical framework to characterise variation in knots, and investigate the processes of innovation and cultural transmission that gave rise to them. The cultural evolution of knotting will be addressed through a combination of mathematical, statistical and phylogenetic modelling, in addition to experiments simulating the cultural transmission of knot tying.



Quick Links
Group Meetings
International Guild of Knot Tyers
SPOCK Interactive Knot Identification Tool
Previous Knots of the Month
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