September’s Physics World highlights women in physics

4 September 2017

Some of the daily challenges facing women in physics are tackled in the latest issue of Physics World magazine, which is now out.

Physics World September 2017 issue

As well as a round-up from the recent International Conference on Women in Physics, which took place in Birmingham, UK, there’s a fascinating feature about the life of Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell. She discovered pulsars 50 years ago next month and became the first female president of the Institute of Physics.

As Bell Burnell points out, “Fix the women!” is often seen as the solution to why women progress more slowly in physics than men. In fact, she argues, larger problems – notably institutional bias and poor policies – are to blame.

The cover feature focuses on the stunning images Cassini has been beaming back over the last few months before it plunges into Saturn on 15 September. There’s also a great Lateral Thoughts article by Daniel Whiteson, illustrated by PHD Comics artist Jorge Cham. Plus, find out how groups of cells move, communicate and organize themselves in networks.

Here’s what else is in the issue.

Row threatens Chinese telescope – Plans to build a 12m optical telescope in China have ground to a halt due to disagreements over whether to use a three- or four-mirror system, as Ling Xin reports

Bridging the divide – The recent International Conference on Women in Physics shows that there is still a long way to go to reach gender equality. Sarah Tesh reports from Birmingham, UK – where education activist Malala Yousafzai made a surprise appearance

Serving the public – Particle physicist Bill Foster, who has served in the US Congress for almost a decade. calls on more physicists to get involved at all levels of government and politics

Making space – Robert P Crease wonders why physicists and philosophers can’t come to a common view on the concept of space

Cassini’s grand finale – Flying closer to Saturn than ever before, the Cassini spacecraft has spent the last few months diving between the planet and its rings, collecting new and unique data ahead of its suicidal plunge into the planet on 15 September, as Joshua Colwell reveals

Cells get organized – Matthew R Francis explores how researchers probe the physics of motion, communication and organization in cell networks, and how understanding these systems could help us tackle serious issues in medicine and biology

• ‘Look happy dear, you’ve just made a discovery’ – Sarah Tesh and Jess Wade describe Jocelyn Bell Burnell’s highs and lows, as revealed in her recent IOP President’s Medal lecture

At the boundary of knowledge – Aatish Bhatia reviews We Have No Idea by Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson

When fact and feeling collide – Arthur I  Miller reviews Mosquitoes at the National Theatre’s Dorman Stage, London

Science, scepticism and fear at the theatre – Tushna Commissariat talks to the writer and one of the lead actors behind the new physics-themed play Mosquitoes

The accidental astronomer – Linda Nordling speaks to Bernard Asabere, Ghana’s first domestic astronomer

Once a physicist – Damian Rumble joined the customer analytics team at insurance company Aviva as a data scientist after completing a PhD in observational astrophysics

What I really do – Daniel Whiteson explains what he does and how that compares with what other people think, with illustrations by Jorge Cham

IOP members can read Physics World every month via our digital apps for iOS, Android and web browsers.