Oct 31, 1997
Young researchers should have more space and time to follow up innovative ideas and unexpected results.
That was the conclusion drawn by John Enderby of Bristol University who gave a presentation on "Experimental physics in the UK: problems and promise" at the British Association's science festival in Leeds last month.
Many of the practical discoveries made in physics come from small-scale physics labs. For example, semiconductors, lasers and holography, X-ray diffraction and scanning tunnelling microscopy were all discovered by bench-top physicists, Enderby noted. "Physics is ultimately an experimental science. As such it relies on the skill of its practitioners and the infra-structure which supports them. Are we training and supporting our best young scientists in experimental physics or are we eating away at the capital provided by previous generations?" he asked.