This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site you agree to our use of cookies. To find out more, see our Privacy and Cookies policy.
Skip to the content

Free weekly newswire

Sign up to receive all our latest news direct to your inbox.

Physics on film

100 Second Science Your scientific questions answered simply by specialists in less than 100 seconds.

Watch now

Bright Recruits

At all stages of your career – whether you're an undergraduate, graduate, researcher or industry professional – brightrecruits.com can help find the job for you.

Find your perfect job

Physics connect

Are you looking for a supplier? Physics Connect lists thousands of scientific companies, businesses, non-profit organizations, institutions and experts worldwide.

Start your search today

Tag archives: science and society

How to build brain-like circuits

Jim Gimzewski speaking about art and science at Institute of Physics Publishing

Jim Gimzewski speaking about art and science at IOP Publishing.

By Hamish Johnston

Yesterday Jim Gimzewski, who is professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UCLA, paid a visit to IOP Publishing – which publishes Physics World. Gimzewski was here to give a lecture about his two professional passions: art and science. He spoke about his involvement in a travelling art installation that was inspired by butterfly metamorphosis and also about his work in synaptic electronics

Jim Gimzewski on synaptic electronics
Why scientists are trying to build artificial brains
This text will be replaced

(more…)

Posted in General | Tagged , , | 1 Comment | Permalink
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

Grumpy astronauts, LEGO overpopulation, videogame quantum mechanics and more

The xkcd webcomic about LEGO titled

The “Minifigs” comic from xkcd (Credit: Randall Munroe/Creative Commons)

By Tushna Commissariat

This week, the Red Folder seemed filled to bursting with amusing and captivating news stories from around the web about physics. To start off, this rather hilarious and candid account of the Apollo 7 mission on the Discovery News website. I will not give too much away and let you read the story yourself, but suffice to say that having a rather bad cold while in space sounds dreadful and is bound to make the best of us quite grumpy – and I am sure the Apollo 7 crew would agree with me!

(more…)

Posted in The Red Folder | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment | Permalink
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

Nobel trivia, turn your phone into a spectrometer and more

APS Outreach Specialist James Roche shows off SpectraSnapp. (Courtesy: Mike Lucibella/APS)

APS Outreach Specialist James Roche shows off SpectraSnapp. (Courtesy: Mike Lucibella/APS)

By Hamish Johnston and Tushna Commissariat

This was Nobel week, and physicists had two prizes to celebrate this year. Of course there was the prize for physics, which this year went to Peter Higgs and François Englert for their theoretical prediction of the Higgs boson in 1964.

Shortly after the physics-prize announcement, Englert was on the phone to Stockholm, but the Nobel officials couldn’t seem to find Higgs. Early rumours were that he had retreated to the Highlands of Scotland to avoid the media glare, but a few hours later he was photographed outside his Edinburgh home by The Scotsman newspaper.

Later, the BBC reported that Higgs was told about his Nobel win by a passer-by on an Edinburgh street, who stopped her car when she spotted the physics laureate on the pavement. “She congratulated me on the news and I said ‘Oh, what news?’,” Higgs is quoted as saying.

(more…)

Posted in The Red Folder | Tagged , , | Leave a comment | Permalink
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

Leidenfrost drops race through a maze

By Hamish Johnston

In this fantastic video, physics students at the University of Bath in the UK have had some fun with the Leidenfrost effect. This occurs when a liquid drop comes in contact with a hot surface that produces an insulating layer of vapour that keeps the drop from evaporating rapidly. This layer also allows the drop to glide effortlessly over the surface – and that’s where the fun begins.

(more…)

Posted in General | Tagged , , | 1 Comment | Permalink
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

Welcome to the arXiv galaxy

Image of the Paperscape map

Visualizing the interactive arXiv landscape. (Courtesy: Damien George, Rob Knegjens)

By Matthew Chalmers

With almost a million articles accrued over the past two decades, the arXiv preprint server has become an indispensable tool for physicists.

Now, thanks to a website called Paperscape developed by theoretical physicists Damien George at the University of Cambridge in the UK and Rob Knegjens at Nikhef in the Netherlands, its vast content can be visualized in all its glory.

The interactive graphic is based on a nifty algorithm that groups arXiv papers that cite each other together, as if they were linked by invisible springs, but forces those that don’t to repel each other. The resulting map resembles an irregularly shaped galaxy in which each “star” is a scientific paper, revealing how the various categories of research (shown in different colours) relate to each other.

(more…)

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments | Permalink
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

Why do some models behave badly?

By Hamish Johnston

In his latest book Models.Behaving.Badly: Why Confusing Illusion With Reality Can Lead to Disaster, on Wall Street and in Life, the physicist-turned-economist Emanuel Derman looks at how a superficial resemblance between the equations of physics and those of economics has led to confusion in the financial industry.

Yesterday, Derman was at the Institute of Physics in London to speak about the differences and similarities between models, theories and intuition. You can watch a video of his presentation above.

(more…)

Posted in General | Tagged | Leave a comment | Permalink
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

In the coming decade, which industry sector will benefit the most from physics research?

By Hamish Johnston

Illustration of some of the sectors that are benefiting from physics research

Illustration of some of the sectors that are benefiting from physics research.

What physics-related industry employs 30,000 people in the UK?

The answer, according to the Institute of Physics (IOP), is the country’s extremely successful space industry – which has been expanding steadily for decades and continues to develop an impressive array of satellite and related technologies. Indeed, the space sector has enjoyed an average annual growth rate of 7.5% since 2008. Not bad going when you consider that the rest of the UK (and much of the world) has been in an economic slump.

Space is just one of the applications of research covered in Physics: Transforming Lives – a 68-page report prepared by the IOP in partnership with EPSRC and the STFC, both of which fund physics research in the UK.

(more…)

Posted in General | Tagged , | 2 Comments | Permalink
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

People, not information, want to be free

Cory Doctorow speaking

Cory Doctorow speaking at the Sense About Science Annual Lecture. (Courtesy: Sense About Science)

By Margaret Harris

I’ve never been a fan of the slogan “Information wants to be free”.  As a journalist and former scientist, I know that the process of creating and disseminating information is definitely not free, and I’m sceptical about the economic alchemy that would supposedly make it that way.  So when I saw that this year’s Sense About Science lecture was entitled “We Get to Choose: How to Demand an Internet That Sets Us Free”, I nearly stayed away.

As it turns out, a more accurate title for the London-based charity’s annual bash would have been “Why Digital Rights Management is Bad and Why You Should Care”, and by the end, the speaker – science-fiction author and blogger Cory Doctorow – had pretty much won me over.

(more…)

Posted in General | Tagged , | 3 Comments | Permalink
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

Is Canada giving up on science?

By Hamish Johnston

The good old days. Nobel laureate Bert Brockhouse won his prize for work done at a federally-funded research reactor. (Courtesy: NRC)

The good old days: Nobel laureate Bert Brockhouse won his prize for work done at this federally funded research reactor. (Courtesy: CNA)

I am Canadian by birth and lived in that country for more than 30 years until the mid-1990s. For the past decade I have noticed a disturbing trend in the Canadian government of turning away from the outside world and becoming increasingly parochial in its outlook on important issues. I find this sad because I think the country is a thoroughly decent place that, despite its shortcomings, could provide inspiration for those living under less salubrious social and political systems.

(more…)

Posted in General | Tagged | 6 Comments | Permalink
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

The Fantastic Mr Feynman

By Hamish Johnston

Feynman at Fermilab

Fantastic Feynman at Fermilab. (Courtesy: Fermilab)

If you can’t get enough of Richard Feynman, the BBC has released the second part of its television tribute to the late Nobel laureate.

(more…)

Posted in General | Tagged | 1 Comment | Permalink
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile
WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux