By Matin Durrani
If you’re a member of the Institute of Physics, it’s time to tuck into the December 2012 issue of Physics World, which contains a bumper reviews section with our pick of the best books for Christmas, including an extended Between the Lines.
We also take stock of the recent six-year jail sentences given to the seven Italian scientists and engineers who were members of the risk committee that gave advice to the public before the devastating 2009 L’Aquila earthquake.
If you’re a member of the Institute of Physics (IOP) you can access the entire new issue online through the digital version of the magazine by following this link or by downloading the Physics World app onto your iPhone or iPad or Android device, available from the App Store and Google Play, respectively.
For the record, here’s a rundown of highlights of the issue:
• Jail terms rock seismology – Jon Cartwright examines the fallout from the case of the seven earthquake experts who were recently jailed for making apparently misleading statements before a devastating earthquake hit the Italian city of L’Aquila in 2009
• Putting science on trial – Warner Marzocchi warns that the decision to sentence seven earthquake experts to six years in prison during the recent trial in L’Aquila could set a dangerous precedent for science
• Physics and painting – Robert P Crease looks at several books that examine how physics influenced artistic movements
• Unknown genius – A visionary who saw far ahead of his contemporaries, Edward Hutchinson Synge has been largely overlooked by the academic world, from which he worked in isolation before he was confined to a mental hospital at the age of 46. Denis Weaire, John F Donegan and Petros S Florides uncover his remarkable story
• Voyager – a mission for life – There may be no such thing as a “job for life” these days, but NASA’s Voyager mission to Jupiter, Saturn and beyond has kept hundreds of scientists busy for as much as 35 years. Mark Williamson reveals how researchers stay motivated and scientifically productive during such a long-term project
• Vital forces – Richard Jones reviews Life’s Ratchet: How Molecular Machines Extract Order from Chaos by Peter M Hoffmann
• What made Bell Labs special – Andrew Gelman reviews The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation by Jon Gertner
• The why and how of it all – Tim Maudlin reviews Why Does the World Exist: an Existential Detective Story by Jim Holt and A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather than Nothing by Lawrence Krauss
• Forming a critical mass of experts – Geoff Vaughan reviews The Neutron’s Children: Nuclear Engineers and the Shaping of Identity by Sean F Johnston
• Von Neumann’s computer – Martin Campbell-Kelly reviews Turing’s Cathedral: the Origins of the Digital Universe by George Dyson
• New beginnings for nuclear – Jeroen Veenstra describes how his enthusiasm for nuclear energy led him to a new country, a new language and a role in developing the energy future
• Once a physicist – Meet Nick Dunbar – a financial journalist and editor of the Bloomberg Risk newsletter
If you’re not yet a member, you can join the IOP as an imember for just £15, €20 or $25 a year via this link. Being an imember gives you a full year’s access to Physics World both online and through the apps.