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Everyday science

Doodling around mental health, the physics of Gulliver’s Travels, one excited astronomer

18 May 2018 Hamish Johnston
Mental health doodle
Doodling around: inspired by mental health (Courtesy: Jess Wade)

It is Mental Health Awareness Week, so a good time to pause and think about how things like stress and anxiety affect you, your friends and colleagues. In “Recognizing mental health in the research environment” Jenni Dyer –  head of diversity at the Institute of Physics – blogs about her experience at a one-day workshop exploring mental-health issues in the science, engineering, technology and mathematics.

Inspired by Dyer’s blog, physicist Jess Wade of Imperial College has sent us a doodle (see figure) in which she reflects on the myriad pressures bearing down on academics.

And if you missed “My invisible battle” about one physicist’s experience with mental health issues, I highly recommend it.

Scale plays a crucial role physics, and biophysics is no exception. It explains why the world isn’t populated by spiders several metres tall and why an ant can easily carry multiple times its own weight. In his series of Christmas Lectures given in 1968, the physicist Philip Morrison uses Gulliver’s Travels as an embarkation point for exploring the physics of the very small and the very big. The lectures are a tradition of the Royal Institution since 1825, and there are now lectures by 21 speakers and spanning the past 50 years available for your viewing  pleasure.

“I was excited enough that the signal appeared in my dreams and I had difficulty sleeping that night.” That is how Japanese astronomer Takuya Hashimoto reacted to the observation of oxygen in a galaxy 13.28 billion light-years away. It’s nice when a scientist gets such joy from their work.

Related journal articles from IOPscience


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