The 10 greatest theoretical predictions of all time, the cool new calorimeters at the CERN particle-physics lab and the links between quantum physics and consciousness are all in the new issue of your favourite magazine
Wishing all Physics World readers a very happy and prosperous new year…let’s hope it’s better than the last one!
Now we all know that predicting the future is a mug’s game – even if it’s just trying to imagine what might happen in physics over the next 12 months.
But at a deeper level, do we even have our destiny in our hands? The notion of “free will” worries many physicists, who feel that our actions are the result of deterministic physical laws that govern the behaviour of particles, over which we have no control. Though if that’s the case, why bother with anything?
In the new issue of Physics World, science writer Philip Ball explores the debate about free will, while elsewhere there’s a great feature by Betony Adams and Francesco Petruccione on the links between quantum physics and consciousness. There may be nothing in it, but thinking about it surely beats worrying about what might happen in the real world over the next 12 months.
If you’re a member of the Institute of Physics, you can read the whole of Physics World magazine every month via our digital apps for iOS, Android and Web browsers. Let us know what you think about the issue on Twitter, Facebook or by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org..
For the record, here’s a run-down of what else is in the issue.
• Silicon breakthrough bags award – The Physics World 2020 Breakthrough of the Year goes to researchers who have created a silicon-based material that emits light at practical wavelengths, as Hamish Johnston reports
• Astronomers mourn Arecibo collapse – The devastating collapse of the iconic Arecibo Observatory last month has left a large hole not just in astronomy but with the people of Puerto Rico too, as Liz Kruesi reports
• China space mission retrieves lunar samples – Chang’e-5 aims to return lunar material for the first time in 45 years to study the evolution history of our closest neighbour, as Ling Xin reports
• Why free will is beyond physics – Philip Ball argues that “free will” is not ruled out by physics – because it doesn’t stem from physics in the first place
• Why breadth beats depth – Niki Bell says that subject-matter experts do not necessarily make the best teachers
• Not over yet – The recent US presidential election doesn’t necessarily herald a new day for science, cautions Robert P Crease
• Powering the beast – The Internet will use a fifth of all the world’s electricity by 2025 – and that’s no bad thing, says James McKenzie
• The light of the mind – Do quantum effects play a role in consciousness? Or are the two areas being linked simply because they are both difficult to understand? Betony Adams and Francesco Petruccione explore this developing, and contentious, field of quantum biophysics
• CERN’s new era for calorimeters – The new calorimeter for CERN’s CMS experiment is one of the most challenging engineering projects in particle physics of all time. Dave Barney explains how it will be pivotal to the success of the High-Luminosity Large Hadron Collider
Quantum weirdness, smart speakers, festive books: the December 2020 issue of Physics World is now out
• The 10 greatest predictions in physics – Over the centuries there have been many theoretical physics predictions that have rocked our understanding of how the world works. David Appell highlights what he thinks are the top 10 of all time
• Intertwined entities – Tushna Commissariat reviews Entanglements: Tomorrow’s Lovers, Families, and Friends edited by Sheila Williams
• Where many have gone before – Ian Randall reviews Space 2069: After Apollo – Back to the Moon, to Mars, and Beyond by David Whitehouse
• From physicist to patent attorney – Monifa Phillips beat the odds, becoming the first Black woman to graduate with a PhD in physics from the University of Glasgow. She describes her pathway into physics, her successes and struggles in academia, and her future in patent law
• Ask me anything – Erik Bakkers is professor of advanced nanomaterials and devices at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in the Netherlands.
• Doomsday numbers – Peter Wright explains why R isn’t the only number to worry about