By Matin Durrani
Happy New Year from all the team at Physics World!
To get things off to a cracking start, check out the January issue of Physics World magazine, which has a wonderful feature by Patrick Hayden and Robert Myers about how the study of “qubits” – quantum bits of information – could be key to uniting quantum theory and general relativity. The issue is now live in the Physics World app for mobile and desktop, and you can also read the article on physicsworld.com from tomorrow.
Elsewhere in the new issue, you can discover how physicists have waded into the debate over whether magnetic fields can control neurons and enjoy a great feature on why some birds don’t kick out intruder cuckoo eggs.
You can also find out just why so many physicists are worried about Donald Trump’s imminent inauguration as US president.
For the record, here’s a run-down of what else is in the issue.
• LIGO bags breakthrough award – The Physics World 2016 Breakthrough of the Year goes to the LIGO Scientific Collaboration for the first ever direct observations of gravitational waves, as Tushna Commissariat and Hamish Johnston report
• Physicists concerned by Trump team – With Donald Trump set to be inaugurated as US president on 20 January, scientists are voicing their concerns about his administration’s approach to science, as Peter Gwynne reports
• Bringing the universe into the lab – Construction of a major new €1.7bn nuclear research centre is due to get under way in Germany this year. Edwin Cartlidge discusses the project with incoming scientific director Paolo Giubellino
• This time it’s different – The results of the recent US presidential election reveal that the traditional model of scientific authority is defunct, says Robert P Crease
• Supporting hi-tech businesses – Simon Keens warns that the tendering process for supplying scientific equipment to “big science” facilities is threatening small businesses
• Physics for excited neurons – Some scientists claim they can control genetically engineered neurons using magnetic fields. Have they and the high-profile journals that published their research failed to understand basic physics? Edwin Cartlidge investigates
• Cuckoo forgeries – a bird’s-eye view – It’s hard to get inside another human’s head – let alone a member of a different species – but that’s where physics and computer models help. Liz Kalaugher reports how researchers are visualizing what birds see in order to help work out why they don’t reject intruder cuckoo eggs
• Decoding the quantum horizon – Patrick Hayden and Robert Myers describe how the study of “qubits”, quantum bits of information, may hold the key to uniting quantum theory and general relativity into a unified theory of quantum gravity
• Saved by Bell – Nicolas Gisin reviews John Stewart Bell and Twentieth-Century Physics: Vision and Integrity by Andrew Whitaker
• Of old habits and new ideas – Wasiu O Popoola reviews Innovation and Its Enemies: Why People Resist New Technologies by Calestous Juma
• Mapping the heavens – The Sloan Digital Sky Survey has been working since the start of
the millennium to create a “map” of the universe. During that time, hundreds of astronomers have built their careers on its data. Here, two of them, Xiaohui Fan and David Law, reflect on how the collaboration shaped their development as researchers
• Once a physicist – Lucy Heady – Meet the economist who specializes in measuring the social impact and effectiveness of companies and charitable organizations
• My metronomes won’t synchronize – Colin Pykett on his domestic troubles