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Inspiring young physicists, telescope buyer’s guide, time-travelling pyramid builders

Sunlight calculator: Asimina Arvanitaki (Courtesy: PI)

Sunlight calculator: Asimina Arvanitaki. (Courtesy: PI)

By Hamish Johnston

Have you ever wondered what inspires talented physicists to pursue careers in physics? To try to answer that question, the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI) in Canada has produced a set of tiles that explain how some famous physicists – and some up-and-coming stars – became hooked on physics at a young age. An early love of back-of-the-envelope calculations seems to have set the stage for the PI’s Asimina Arvanitaki as she explains in the above tile. Can you guess which Nobel laureate used to stare at a clock pendulum for hours to try to figure out how it worked? The answer to that teaser and much more can be found in “How great scientists get hooked on science”.

Many young people are turned on to physics through astronomy. Christmas is coming, and if you have a budding astronomer on your gift list, Sky and Telescope has put together a tip sheet for first-time telescope buyers. As well as defining different telescope types, the guide also explains what to look for in an instrument. If you don’t know a refractor from a reflector, it should be your first stop before you shop.

A reality TV star has just been elected president of the US, so I shouldn’t really be surprised that an I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! contestant is offering Stephen Hawking advice about time travel. Scarlett Moffatt – who first became famous by appearing on the reality show Gogglebox – says she sent an e-mail to Hawking explaining how the pyramids of Egypt were built by people of the future. We really do live in a post-truth world.

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