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Time – the abiding mystery: the July 2018 special issue of Physics World is now out

02 Jul 2018 Matin Durrani
The July 2018 issue of Physics World

Our attempts to understand time is the theme of the new issue of Physics World magazine, which is out now in print and digital format.

The July 2018 issue includes an interview with the Italian-born physicist and author Carlo Rovelli, whose latest book The Order of Time dubs time “perhaps the greatest mystery”.

Sidney Perkowitz examines physicists’ attempts through the centuries to unravel time, while Philip Ball sheds light on exotic materials called “time crystals”.

Jon Cartwright looks at how atomic clocks can determine precisely “when” stock-market transactions take place – in an effort to spot potentially fraudulent transactions, while Robert P Crease wonders why we’re fooled by time.

Finally, we’re delighted to publish our first-ever cartoon by illustrator Eugenia Viti, who takes a wry look at time.

Remember that if you’re a member of the Institute of Physics, you can read the whole of Physics World magazine every month via our digital apps for iOSAndroid and Web browsers. Let us know what you think about the issue on TwitterFacebook or by e-mailing us at

For the record, here’s a run-down of what else is in the issue.

• Horizon Europe plans unveiled – The European Commission is proposing to spend €100bn on science over seven years from 2021, but will the UK see any of the cash now it is quitting the EU? Michael Banks and Michael Allen report

• Newcastle’s new generation – With the first physics students in a decade graduating from Newcastle University this month, Nick Parker and Angela Dyson reflect on what it takes to rebuild and reopen a physics department

• Fusion dreams – James McKenzie wonders if a commercial approach will bring a practical fusion reactor to market faster

• Fooled by time – Robert P Crease wonders if there is a topic murkier than time

• Time examined and time experienced – How we perceive and experience time is fundamental to our lives but we don’t fully understand what is a complex phenomenon. Sidney Perkowitz looks at how scientists and philosophers alike are seeking to
grasp this mysterious and ever-present concept

• Time traders – In today’s markets, every microsecond counts. Jon Cartwright discovers how the UK’s National Physical Laboratory is keeping regulators up to speed

• In search of time crystals – Dreamt up by the physics Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek in 2012, the notion of “time crystals” is now moving from theory to experiment – and could also lead to applications such as a new kind of atomic clock. Philip Ball explains

• The time lord – Carlo Rovelli – the Italian-born physicist and author of the bestselling popular-science book Seven Brief Lessons on Physics – has now published what promises to be another success story. Matin Durrani reviews The Order of Time and questions Rovelli about the motivations behind his new work

• The physicists in the comedy club – Jess Wade reviews The Element in the Room: Science-y Stuff Staring You in the Face by Helen Arney and Steve Mould

• Nuclear futures – Tushna Commissariat talks to Jim Gulliford about a new programme to train early-career nuclear physicists, and what a future in the field looks like today

• Once a physicist – meet Eline van der Velden, who is the two-time award-winning actor, writer and director of the new BBC Three series Miss Holland and founder of Particle6 Productions

• What is time? – An illustration by Eugenia Viti and Ivan Viti

Like the issue? Don’t like it? Did we miss something out? E-mail us at to share your thoughts.

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