This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site you agree to our use of cookies. To find out more, see our Privacy and Cookies policy.
Skip to the content

Share this

Free weekly newswire

Sign up to receive all our latest news direct to your inbox.

Physics on film

100 Second Science Your scientific questions answered simply by specialists in less than 100 seconds.

Watch now

Bright Recruits

At all stages of your career – whether you're an undergraduate, graduate, researcher or industry professional – brightrecruits.com can help find the job for you.

Find your perfect job

Physics connect

Are you looking for a supplier? Physics Connect lists thousands of scientific companies, businesses, non-profit organizations, institutions and experts worldwide.

Start your search today

Blog

When reading popular-science books, what do you find most stimulating?

By James Dacey

Earlier this week we at Physics World revealed our top 10 popular-physics books of the year as we released this specially recorded podcast. I won’t spoil the surprise by mentioning any of the titles here, but I can say that the list spans a wide variety of books, including biographies, the history of physics and even a tome about cookery.

hands smll.jpg

As with any “best of” listing exercise, we fully expect that some listeners will disagree with our choices and some may feel strongly that other books have been cruelly overlooked. Of course, there is always going to be some degree of subjectivity in making these choices, and it is not always straightforward to explain what lifts a book from being great to being inspirational. But give the podcast a listen and let us know what you think about our choices by posting a comment on the accompanying article.

In the meantime, it would be great if you could share your thoughts on popular science in general writing by responding to our poll question.

When reading popular-science books, what do you find most stimulating?

The technical details underpinning the science
The personal stories of the scientists
The impact of the science on culture and society
The sense of wonder conveyed by the author

To cast your vote, please visit our Facebook page, and feel free to explain your answer by posting a comment.

In last week’s poll we wanted to gauge your opinion on a topic close to the hearts of both nuclear physicists and chemists. We asked whether you liked the names flerovium and livermorium, which have recently been proposed by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) for the two new elements 114 and 116, respectively.

Flerovium was devised because both elements were created in 2004 by researchers at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna, Russia, which was founded by the prominent Soviet nuclear physicist Georgi Flerovm. Livermorium arose because both elements were confirmed by scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California and the Centre for Heavy Ion Research (GSI) in Darmstadt, Germany. (The German contribution is not recognized because the element Darmstadtium already exists.)

Despite this relatively logical approach to naming, it seems that many respondents are not too impressed with the proposals. Just 30% selected “I like both”, while 49% opted for “they’re boring and unimaginative”. Some 13% said they “like flerovium but not livermorium”. And just 8% said the converse, they “like livermorium but not flerovium”. One pollster, Chandan Dasgupta based in Calcutta, India, took a particular dislike to flerovium, commenting that it “sounds like a health drink!”.

Thank you for all your responses and we look forward to hearing from you again in this week’s poll.

This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

Leave a comment

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Guidelines

  • Comments should be relevant to the article and not be used to promote your own work, products or services.
  • Please keep your comments brief (we recommend a maximum of 250 words).
  • We reserve the right to remove excessively long, inappropriate or offensive entries.

Show/hide formatting guidelines

Tag Description Example Output
<a> Hyperlink <a href="http://www.google.com">google</a> google
<abbr> Abbreviation <abbr title="World Health Organisation" >WHO</abbr> WHO
<acronym> Acronym <acronym title="as soon as possible">ASAP</acronym> ASAP
<b> Bold <b>Some text</b> Some text
<blockquote> Quoted from another source <blockquote cite="http://iop.org/">IOP</blockquote>
IOP
<cite> Cite <cite>Diagram 1</cite> Diagram 1
<del> Deleted text From this line<del datetime="2012-12-17"> this text was deleted</del> From this line this text was deleted
<em> Emphasized text In this line<em> this text was emphasised</em> In this line this text was emphasised
<i> Italic <i>Some text</i> Some text
<q> Quotation WWF goal is to build a future <q cite="http://www.worldwildlife.org/who/index.html">
where people live in harmony with nature and animals</q>
WWF goal is to build a future
where people live in harmony with nature and animals
<strike> Strike text <strike>Some text</strike> Some text
<strong> Stronger emphasis of text <strong>Some text</strong> Some text
WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux