By Matin Durrani
We’re sometimes accused here at Physics World of being hopelessly in awe of supposedly esoteric science such as the Higgs boson or quantum entanglement. In fact, as if to prove the point, the lead news story and the lead feature in the May issue of Physics World are on those very topics!
However, the new issue of the magazine – which you can read online and via our apps – also contains some very down-to-Earth physics in the form of an article that describes how special “wave bypass” structures could enable bridges to cope with potentially damaging vibrations. The most famous example of such destruction was the Tacoma Narrows Bridge – the falling-apart of which you can watch in our archive video clip on page 33 of the digital magazine.
Elsewhere in the issue, we look at the exciting potential of the brain-imaging technique of magnetoencephalography, while we have a great careers article this month outlining the benefits of a career as a scientific consultant.
Members of the Institute of Physics can access the entire new issue online free through the digital version of the magazine or by downloading the Physics World app onto your iPhone or iPad or Android device, available from the App Store and Google Play respectively.
If you’re not yet a member, you can join the Institute as an IOPimember for just £15, €20 or $25 a year. Being an IOPimember gives you a full year’s access to Physics World both online and through the apps.
For the record, here’s a rundown of highlights of the issue:
• Higgs hunters target LHC restart – After discovering the Higgs boson last year, researchers at the Large Hadron Collider are now trawling through the data as the collider undergoes an 18-month shutdown for repairs and upgrades. Jon Cartwright finds out what could be in store
• New ways to reach out – Physics outreach usually consists of appealing and fun demonstrations outside of the classroom, but Amrita Prasad and Hugo Thienpont argue that only “educational outreach” can have a deep impact on students’ interest in science
• Why humour matters – Has big science killed “deep jokes”? Robert P Crease hopes not and asks for your funny tales
• Methods in mind – Our ability to image the structure of the human brain is well established, but the technique of magnetoencephalography is now providing insights into how the mind actually functions, as Matt Brookes and Krish Singh explain
• The life of psi – The heart of quantum theory – some would say the heart of physics itself – is the wavefunction. But is it really some sort of wave? A new theorem has put the doubters in their place, as Jon Cartwright reports
• Bypassing shake, rattle and roll – The Tacoma Narrows Bridge is perhaps the most famous example of a bridge that collapsed unexpectedly in response to external forces. But new “wave bypass” technology – similar to that underpinning invisibility cloaks – could help avoid such disasters, as Michele Brun, Alexander Movchan, Ian Jones and Ross McPhedran explain
• The electrical human – Richard Clayton reviews The Spark of Life: Electricity in the Human Body by Frances Ashcroft
• Consciousness from the ground up – Seth Lloyd reviews Physics in Mind: a Quantum View of the Brain by Werner Loewenstein
• Scientist for hire – Specialized technology companies and academic research are not the only ways of building a career using your skills as a physicist. Technology consultant Jeffrey Philippson shares his enthusiasm for a more varied option
• A golden galactic journey – In this month’s Lateral Thoughts column, G G Davies reflects on the numbers associated with 50 years of married life