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Editor's choice

Jan 19, 2014

A special free-to-read digital edition containing 10 of our very best feature articles on the science and applications of light

Features

Cassini’s grand finale

With the Cassini craft due to plunge into Saturn on 15 September, Joshua Colwell explains the scientific secrets it has revealed over the last 20 years

Spacecraft in extreme environments

Keith Cooper explores the challenges of designing instruments that can handle the toughest conditions in our solar system

From hype to hyperloop

Vacuum-based transport systems could clear the way for faster, cheaper travel – or so proponents claim. Jon Cartwright takes a closer look

When goofing off is good

Particle physicist Daniel Whiteson describes his collaboration with the artistic brains behind PHD Comics

A shared journey of discovery

Benjamin Skuse investigates the sibling-scientists relationship to see if having a brother or sister who is also a researcher can help or hinder your career

Refugee scientists under the spotlight

Andy Extance reports on initiatives to help scientists who have fled their homeland

Spying on volcanoes

Matthew Watson explains how drones are helping scientists to map and monitor active volcanoes – work that could save human lives

Fighting fire with fire

Stephen Ornes on the many open questions when it comes to the physics of wildfires

A gateway to the biological world

Optical physicist Gail McConnell discusses how novel biomedical imaging techniques are changing the kinds of questions biologists can ask

Just beyond our fingertips

An optical glucose sensor would be a boon for millions of people with diabetes. So why hasn’t someone built one yet? Kate Bechtel discusses the factors standing in the way

The power of the blackboard

Philip Ball on why we physicists still love our blackboards

Smooth sailing

Superhydrophobic surfaces with the right microscopic structures could help reduce friction on ships, as CJ Kim explains

The cutting edge of quantum physics

Daniel Twitchen and Matthew Markham explain how diamonds could become a quantum physicist’s best friend

Simulating the universe

Tom Giblin, James Mertens and Glenn Starkman on how Einstein’s equations have been used in a cosmological setting for the first time

The long road to ignition

Margaret Harris reports on progress towards fusion’s “break-even” point at the US National Ignition Facility