Tag archives: Physics World magazine
By Matin Durrani
As physics has grown into a bigger, increasingly global and more connected endeavour, are there still any true physics hot spots? Are there any institutes, universities or regions that really are “the place to be”? Does good physics, in other words, depend more on who (or what) you know than where you are?
The importance of having the right people in the right location is well illustrated in this month’s issue of Physics World, in which science writer Brian Clegg looks at the role played by Manchester in the development by Niels Bohr of his model of the atomic nucleus 100 years ago.
What drew Bohr there were not so much the facilities at the University of Manchester’s physics department but rather its working environment and in particular the presence of the New Zealander Ernest Rutherford, with whom Bohr struck up a great rapport.
Our cover story this month concerns attempts to extract carbon dioxide from the air in the fight against climate change, while elsewhere in the issue we look at all the cool – and pretty fundamental – things you can do with ultracold neutrons.
By James Dacey
This year Physics World is celebrating its 25th birthday. The first issue of the magazine was published in October 1988, so for October this year we are producing a special anniversary issue. It will celebrate the big physics stories from the first quarter of a century of our existence, but it will also have a strong focus on the exciting new physics that await us in the near future. To discuss our plans, I joined editor of Physics World Matin Durrani in this Google Hangout, recorded yesterday.
It was the first time we had attempted one of these fancy new hangouts; this was something of a pilot run. But with the likes of Barack Obama, CERN and the BBC all attempting this new, accessible way of video broadcasting, I reckon we’re in good company.
By Matin Durrani
Hello from South Korea, where I’m on a week-long tour with Physics World news editor Michael Banks. We’re here to visit a series of top physics institutes and research organizations in a trip that’s taken several months of careful planning to arrange.
There are three main reasons for coming here. The first is to gather material for a Physics World special report on physics in South Korea, which will be published in September. This report will follow on from our previous special reports on India, Japan and China.
By Louise Mayor
Yesterday I had an exciting trip out of the office.
Earlier this week, one of Physics World’s freelance writers, Jon Cartwright, told how me he’d been invited to the Bristol University theory department’s weekly seminar. Felix Flicker, a 2nd-year PhD student who organizes these events, had seen Jon’s article “The life of psi” in this month’s Physics World, which discusses a theorem published in Nature Physics. The theorem is interesting because if its assumptions hold, it rules out one of the four interpretations of quantum mechanics and leaves us with three.
I wanted in on the seminar action!
Last year when I was planning the Physics World special issue on quantum frontiers (which was out in March and is still available as a free PDF download), I had approached Jon to ask whether he’d like to tackle a quantum topic, and he let me know he was interested in covering the paper by Matthew Pusey, Jonathan Barrett and Terry Rudolph. Jon had seen the story reported elsewhere but had found these accounts were light on the details and didn’t get to the bottom of the science. I liked the idea and Jon went ahead. Once the story arrived in my inbox I was hooked! I found it to be one of those stories that covers some tricky concepts but if you let yourself become immersed in the story and think through what’s being explained, is very rewarding.
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.
By Matin Durrani
If you’re a member of the Institute of Physics, the April 2013 issue of Physics World is now ready to view online or through our apps.
This month marks the 60th anniversary of the discovery of the structure of DNA by James Watson and Francis Crick and – to celebrate that milestone – we have a great feature on an unusual aspect of the famous double helix: namely, how knot theory can help us to understand how and why DNA tangles up.
Elsewhere in the issue, we continue the biophysics theme by looking at the damage caused to the human brain by blows from sports injuries or by the shock waves from exploding bombs. This is not traditional physics territory by any means, but surely there is no harm in physicists bringing a fresh perspective to such matters?
Our final feature this month looks at the history of Maxwell’s demon – the tiny being originally devised by James Clerk Maxwell as a thought experiment to evade the second law of thermodynamics. But, as Philip Ball explains, some of the physicist’s contemporaries actually believed it was an intelligent being that could bridge hidden worlds and provide a scientific route to immortality of the human soul.
By Matin Durrani
If you’re a member of the Institute of Physics, you’ll have had access for almost a week now to the March 2013 special issue of Physics World on quantum physics – either in print or through our digital issue, which you can access online or via our apps for smartphones and tablets (free from the App Store and Google Play).
But as we know how fascinating so many of you find the quantum world – with all that talk of quantum entanglement, Schrödinger’s cat and spooky action at a distance – we felt we wanted to share the issue more widely. So from today we’re making the issue available as a free downloadable PDF.
Of course, the PDF doesn’t have all the goodies of the digital issue, which this month includes some exclusive quantum-related audio and video content. But there’s still plenty to get stuck into, including a look at the fascinating new paradigm of “weak measurement”, the application of quantum physics to biology, the use of cold atoms to simulate the quantum world, and the use of entanglement for completely secure satellite communication.
By Matin Durrani
If you’re a member of the Institute of Physics, it’s time to get stuck into the March 2013 issue of Physics World, which is a special issue devoted to some of the most interesting cutting-edge work at the frontiers of quantum physics.
Among the highlights are a look at the fascinating new paradigm of “weak measurement”, the application of quantum physics to biology, the use of cold atoms to simulate the quantum world, and the use of entanglement for completely secure satellite communication. Two other articles examine the impact of quantum physics on popular culture and among the physics community itself.
The issue also contains some great multimedia, including the latest in our 100 Second Science video series where physicists at Imperial College London answer key questions in quantum physics in 100 seconds or less.
And if you’re wondering about the cover – it was specially commissioned by us in the style of pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, and shows Alice and Bob (the names given by convention to those sending and receiving quantum signals) peering into an ever weirder quantum world. The illustration echoes a similar image that graced the cover of our last special issue on quantum physics exactly 15 years ago this month. That one was also commissioned by us and was voted in 2008 by Physics World readers as one of their favourite covers of all time.