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Value of physics in society

From the microscopic level of particles to the macroscopic level of space, physics enables our understanding of the universe and the world around us and contributes to our everyday lives. Without physics we wouldn’t have many of the things we take for granted today, including transport, construction and telecommunications or some of the most vital advances in healthcare such as MRI scanners.

Physics generates fundamental knowledge needed for the future technological advances that will continue to drive the economic engines of the world and contributes to the technological infrastructure and to the skills needed to take advantage of scientific advances and discoveries.


Our aspiration: 10% of the population will have a meaningful engagement with a physics-based public event and 1% will have sustained contact with physics.
Read our strategy

“I’ve always believed that hope is a choice, and it’s a choice that [we] need to make. Because we have the biggest opportunity to change the trajectory of the planet.”

Fatima-Zahra Ibrahim, Looking Glass: Society, episode 1

Our podcast: Looking Glass

We launched our Looking Glass podcast in November 2020. The first series, Society, explored some of the most pressing challenges we face in our lives around the world – and asked what role physics has to play in solving them. It has been downloaded more than 20,000 times.

A second series, A Green Future, followed in July 2021, focusing on the climate crisis and how physics can help power a new green economy. Building on Society’s success, A Green Future has so far been downloaded 38,000 times, reaching listeners in more than 50 countries.

The majority of our downloads came from fans of political, social and historical podcasts, suggesting that we have succeeded in our aim to reach beyond the physics community in the UK and Ireland and bring physics into the wider world conversations. 

Launched in IOP’s 100th anniversary year, Looking Glass is also an inquiry into the purpose of a scientific institution in the 21st century, to help us understand how we must evolve to play a relevant part in our society, and help shape it. 

Listen to Looking Glass

"I’m enjoying listening to some very engaging discussions about some of the key issues we face as a society which are made very accessible by excellent, thoughtful contributors."

Apple Podcasts listener

Listen to Looking Glass

In this introductory podcast, IOP Deputy Chief Executive Rachel Youngman talks to Looking Glass: Society host Angela Saini about why we've created the series. She explains what makes it so relevant now, and the important role the podcast series has to play in helping IOP to reflect on our place in our diverse society. 

You can also listen to Gemma Milne as she introduces our second series, Looking Glass: A Green Future.  

Listen to all episodes

Learn more about our six aspirations