October 4, 2013
IOP Magazine Selects Five Most Important Physics-Related Discoveries
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
In celebration of the publication’s 25th anniversary, Physics World has selected the five most important physics-related discoveries of the past quarter-century, as well as five recent breakthroughs with the potential to change the world.
Physics World, which is the member magazine of the Institute of Physics (IOP), selected quantum teleportation, the creation of the first Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC), the acceleration of the universe’s expansion, experimental proof of mass in neutrinos, and the detection of the Higgs boson as the top discoveries in the field since the publication launched in October 1988.
Quantum teleportation, first discovered in 1992, is a process by which the exact state of an atom or photon can be transmitted from one location to another. The first Bose-Einstein condensate, a state of matter of a dilute gas of bosons that had been cooled to temperatures close to absolute zero, was created in 1995.
The acceleration of the expansion of the universe was first discovered in 1997, according to BBC News science reporter James Morgan. Researchers Saul Perlmutter, Brian P. Schmidt, and Adam G. Riess won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics for their observations of type Ia supernovae, which suggested that more distant objects appeared to move faster.
In 1998, research conducted at the Super-Kamiokande neutrino detector in Japan determined that the particles can oscillate from one flavor to another, which would require them to have a nonzero mass. Last year, scientists with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) reported that they had discovered a particle consistent with the Higgs boson, the so-called “God particle” that could be responsible for all mass in the universe.
According to Morgan, the five physics discoveries that the magazine believes have the potential to change the world are: hadron therapy, which involves using tabletop particle accelerators to treat tumors; quantum computing; graphene, a substance that could be used to create next-gen electronics and extremely strong materials; nanoscopic superlenses that utilize evanescent light, and kinetic energy harvesting, a technology that could allow mobile devices to be charged through physical activity such as walking.
Physics World also listed the five biggest unanswered questions in the discipline. One asks, “What is the nature of the dark universe?” while another ponders whether or not life on Earth is unique. A third simply asks, “What is time?” while the remaining two wonder whether or not scientists will be able to unify quantum mechanics and gravity or exploit the weirdness of quantum mechanics?
Other features included in this special publication are the five top images from the last 25 years that allow readers to “see” a physical phenomenon or effect, and a feature about the about five people who are changing the way physics is done. While the magazine is typically available only to subscribers, a free PDF download of the 25th anniversary issue will be available starting on Wednesday, October 16.