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Matin Durrani: December 2010 Archives

Season’s greetings

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By Matin Durrani

Season’s greetings to all readers.

The Physics World staff are all on a well-earned Christmas break right now.

While they’ve all got a few days off, there’s plenty to keep you amused over the holiday period.

If you haven’t seen it already, don’t miss our breakthrough of the year, which went to research into antimatter, as well as our top 10 physics books from the last 12 months.

We’ve also included a selection of the most stunning pictures of 2010 as well as our favourite quirky stories that made us laugh throughout the year.

Finally, there’s our look forward to 2011, which promises so much. That’s the thing about physics – it just never ceases to amaze us.

See you all in the new year, and thanks for your dedicated interest throughout 2010.

P.S. For all materials-science lovers out there, we’ve also just posted a couple of videos from the Materials Research Society fall meeting in Boston earlier this month. There’s a vox-pop with delegates as well as as an interview with Ian Robertson, incoming head honcho at the National Science Foundation’s division of materials research.

By Matin Durrani

The Royal Society – one of the oldest scientific societies in the world – has been spending all this year marking its 350th anniversary.

The society was founded on 30 November 1660 and its outgoing president is the Cambridge University cosmologist Martin Rees.

Rees, whom I interviewed earlier this year (see video above), stepped down yesterday after five years in the hot seat, to be replaced by the Nobel-prize-winning geneticist Sir Paul Nurse, who was lured back to the UK after a stint in New York.

It takes a certain polished charm, coupled with a clear vision, to get appointed as Royal Society president – a quality that Rees has for sure, as you’ll see from the interview.

Nurse no doubt has those qualities too, insisting to the Observer in a recent interview that “scientists have to earn their licence to operate and that means getting out there to talk to people and explain what we do.”

To mark Nurse’s appointment, the Royal Society has also just released a new report entitled Science Sees Further: How Science Will Answer Some of the World’s Biggest Questions containing 12 articles on the “most exciting areas of science today”.

The topics are quite general – ageing and Web science being among them, with the most closely related to physics probably being those on, greenhouse gases, geoengineering and extraterrestrial life.

As for Rees, I doubt his life will get much quieter – he’s still president of Trinity College Cambridge and the UK’s Astronomer Royal after all.