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Adventures in Antarctica

By Matin Durrani

It’s the depths of winter in Antarctica right now, but in the new issue of Physics World magazine, there’s a chance to feast your eyes on some stunning images of scientific research in the White Continent, taken a few months ago by photojournalist Enrico Sacchetti.

Sacchetti’s photographs are amazing and in the article he explains his experiences of travelling to Antarctica and taking pictures in what is one of the world’s harshest environments.

“As soon as I stepped off the C-130 [plane], the alien nature of Antarctica was truly jolting…Almost completely absent of atmospheric pollution, the air was crystal clear,” Sacchetti writes.

It was for Sacchetti an incredible trip and one that he felt very lucky to have gone on. “Following the researchers on planes, helicopters and snowmobiles to remote sites gave me a unique perspective of Antarctica and its scientific adventurers,” he writes. “I felt privileged to visit these places that almost no-one has seen before.”

Physics World June 2014

If you’re a member of the Institute of Physics (IOP), you can enjoy Sacchetti’s article in the digital edition of the magazine on desktop or via the Physics World app, available from the App Store and Google Play. If you’re not yet in the IOP, you can join as an IOPimember for just £15, €20 or $25 a year to get a full year’s access to Physics World both online and through the apps.

Elsewhere in the June issue of Physics World, we travel to Brazil – just as the FIFA World Cup gets under way – to see how physicists in the country are faring. There might have been protests about the amount being spent on the football tournament, but funding for science has been healthy, more than quadrupling over the last decade. We also look at the ethics of nanotechnology, examine a 10-year dispute into stripy nanoparticles and – in this month’s Lateral Thoughts column – explore the “physics of Poohsticks”.

For the record, here’s a a run-down of the highlights of the June issue.

Nanoscience debate rages on – Ten years on from a study that first reported the existence of “stripy nanoparticles”, a row over the research shows no sign of ending, as Jon Cartwright reports

• Brazilian physicists take centre stage – With the FIFA World Cup taking place in Brazil this month, Susan Curtis travels to South America’s richest nation to find out how its physicists are exploiting recent big increases in science funding

A scientific “Arab spring” – Arabic science has long made valuable contributions to mathematics and astronomy. Jim Al-Khalili calls for reforms to foster another “golden age”

Nanoethical concerns – Using nanotechnology to teach ethics has its pros and cons, finds Robert P Crease

Science on ice – Not everyone wants a comfy desk job. Enrico Sacchetti travelled to Antarctica to photograph some of the physicists and the facilities they use in the rugged, dramatic and remote White Continent

Winds of change – The future of the wind industry is looking brighter thanks to
a decades-old laser technology. Jon Cartwright explains how laser anemometry could cut the cost of wind energy and boost its share of the world’s energy market

Debunking Bacon – A legend, a man ahead of his time or an overrated insignificance? These three historical portrayals of Roger Bacon should be put to rest, argues Brian Clegg, who travels to Oxford to uncover the medieval philosopher’s true identity

From the past, a fiery warningHazel Rymer reviews Island on Fire: the
Extraordinary Story of Laki, the Volcano that Turned Eighteenth-century Europe Dark
by Alexandra Witze and Jeff Kanipe

Good scientists and honest peopleAndrew Robinson reviews Nuclear Dawn: F E Simon and the Race for Atomic Weapons in World War II by Kenneth D McRae

A multiple-choice career – Physicist and “portfolio worker” Jennifer A King describes what it’s like to build a scientific career based on more than one part-time job

Once a physicistTjark Tjin-A-Tsoi is director-general of Statistics Netherlands

Lateral Thoughts: The physics of PoohsticksChris Atkins uses the simple game invented by A A Milne as a physics lesson


Enjoy the issue – and if you have any thoughts on the articles, do e-mail us at

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