News & Comment

  • Research Highlight |

    A paper in Science shows that diamond can be elastically stretched by up to 9% which could make it more electrically conducting.

    • Ankita Anirban
  • Editorial |

    Over a century after its discovery, the proton still keeps physicists busy understanding its basic properties, but a new generation of experiments may help finally nail down its radius, stability and the origin of its spin.

  • Research Highlight |

    A paper in Communications Physics reports that cornstarch suspensions flowing down slopes form ripples like water does — but via a completely different mechanism, which involves their unusual rheology.

    • Zoe Budrikis
  • Research Highlight |

    A Nature paper reports on the conversion of microwave-frequency quantum excitations of a superconducting qubit into photons at optical telecommunication frequencies, a step closer to realizing a working quantum transducer.

    • Iulia Georgescu
  • Research Highlight |

    A paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that the ridges on finger pads promote grip by acting as a microfluidic array that maintains optimal moisture levels and by deforming when wet to block sweat pores.

    • Zoe Budrikis
  • Comment |

    As the construction of the Electron–Ion Collider (EIC) is starting, the EIC Project Director Jim Yeck shares his experience on the main ingredients for success of big science projects.

    • Jim Yeck
  • Research Highlight |

    A paper in Nature Physics images magnetic vortices using X-ray ptychography and finds that they are stable under high magnetic fields.

    • Ankita Anirban
  • Editorial |

    As we close volume 2 of Nature Reviews Physics we look at the richness of topics covered, the variety of article types and the geographical diversity of the community we serve.

  • Research Highlight |

    Understanding the first few minutes of the Universe has been hampered by uncertainty in the cross section of the so-called deuterium burning process. A paper in Nature reports a much-improved cross section, putting models of the early Universe on firmer footing.

    • Zoe Budrikis
  • Year in Review |

    Whereas high-temperature superconductivity in cuprates has been studied for 30 years, during the past year it has been reported in nickelates. This raises new questions for physicists and chemists about the mechanism of superconductivity.

    • Warren E. Pickett
  • Research Highlight |

    A Science paper presents a method of growing twisted spiral structures of 2D materials by using curved substrates.

    • Ankita Anirban
  • Research Highlight |

    In 2000, David DiVincenzo gave a set of basic criteria for building a quantum computer, which have guided research for the past 20 years. Today, despite not all the criteria having been cleared, additional complex requirements have emerged.

    • Iulia Georgescu
  • Editorial |

    This month we explore the evolution of curated data in physics and ponder on the past and future role of journals.

  • Year in Review |

    Strong experimental evidence for the existence of the simplest type of anyons (particles that are neither bosons nor fermions) has emerged this year. The next step is to uncover more exotic types of anyons, such as Majorana fermions.

    • Jay Sau
    • , Steven Simon
    • , Smitha Vishveshwara
    •  & James R. Williams
  • Down to Business |

    Quantum computing technologies are advancing, and the class of addressable problems is expanding. What market strategies are quantum computing companies and start-ups adopting?

    • Evan R. MacQuarrie
    • , Christoph Simon
    • , Stephanie Simmons
    •  & Elicia Maine
  • Research Highlight |

    A paper in Physics of Fluids shows that the wedge-shaped cross-section of pine needles enhances their capacity to shed water.

    • Ankita Anirban
  • Research Highlight |

    A report from the UK’s Science Council-supported Technician Commitment highlights the role played by technical staff in minimizing the disruption to research caused by COVID-19.

    • Zoe Budrikis
  • Editorial |

    Physics in Africa is often overlooked. We explore the challenges facing African physicists and what their needs are as authors and readers.

  • Research Highlight |

    The first quantum error-correcting code was devised by Peter Shor 25 years ago. Ever since there have been numerous advances on both the theoretical and experimental fronts, and quantum error correction turned out to have unexpected applications.

    • Iulia Georgescu
  • Research Highlight |

    A Nature paper shows how vertical oscillations can be used to levitate a fluid and float a boat upside down.

    • Ankita Anirban
  • Editorial |

    The 5 years since the first detection of gravitational waves have witnessed the rise of multi-messenger astronomy, a field that expands our understanding of astrophysical processes and reshapes the way science is done.

  • Comment |

    Faced with an economic crisis as large and rapid as that precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, economists have turned to new ‘fast indicators’ based on big data, as Andy Haldane and Shiv Chowla of the Bank of England explain.

    • Andy Haldane
    •  & Shiv Chowla
  • Comment |

    János Kertész and Johannes Wachs discuss how complexity science and network science are particularly useful for identifying and describing the hidden traces of economic misbehaviour such as fraud and corruption.

    • János Kertész
    •  & Johannes Wachs
  • Comment |

    Caterina La Porta and Stefano Zapperi discuss how a suitable identification of the control and order parameters can shed light on the nature of phase transitions in cell migration.

    • Caterina A. M. La Porta
    •  & Stefano Zapperi
  • Comment |

    Mansi M. Kasliwal discusses the Global Relay of Observatories Watching Transients Happen (GROWTH) collaboration and shares her enthusiasm about the future of multi-messenger astrophysics.

    • Mansi M. Kasliwal
  • Research Highlight |

    A paper in Science Advances shows that the classic picture of sperm cells moving via symmetrical side-to-side wiggling is an artefact of 2D imaging — the actual motion is far more complex.

    • Zoe Budrikis
  • Editorial |

    All articles in Nature Reviews Physics are extensively edited in-house before publication. What do we do, and why?

  • Comment |

    Alec Habig and Kate Scholberg describe the Supernova Early Warning System (SNEWS), an international network of neutrino detectors aimed to alert the astronomical community if supernova neutrinos are detected.

    • Alec Habig
    •  & Kate Scholberg
  • Comment |

    Sarah Antier describes the Global Rapid Advanced Network Devoted to the Multi-messenger Addicts (GRANDMA), which aims to identify and characterize the electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational wave sources

    • Sarah Antier
  • Research Highlight |

    A Nature Nanotechnology paper presents evidence of new fractional excitations in monolayer WSe2

    • Ankita Anirban
  • Research Highlight |

    The Solar system is chaotic, making its long-term future hard to predict. A paper in Physical Review Letters shows that help may come in the form of instantons, more commonly used in statistical mechanics and gauge field theories.

    • Zoe Budrikis
  • Editorial |

    This month in a dedicated Focus issue, we look back at the first decade of X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) and forward to the challenges and opportunities lying ahead.

  • Research Highlight |

    Over the past decade, several X-ray free-electron laser (XFEL) facilities have been constructed and started operation worldwide. New, high-repetition XFELs are expected to open to users in the next 5 years.

    • Iulia Georgescu
  • Research Highlight |

    Twenty-five years ago a paper in Science reported the first observation of the exotic state of matter predicted in the 1920s by Satyendra Nath Bose and Albert Einstein: a Bose–Einstein condensate.

    • Iulia Georgescu
  • Comment |

    Why the Hall conductance is quantized was an open problem in condensed matter theory for much of the past 40 years. Spyridon Michalakis who worked on the solution — published in 2015 — gives a personal take on how the field evolved.

    • Spyridon Michalakis
  • Research Highlight |

    Analysis of citation behaviours in neuroscience indicate that papers led by men are cited more than would be expected based on other characteristics; the discrepancy is most prominent in the citation behaviours of men and is getting worse over time.

    • Zoe Budrikis
  • Comment |

    Miguel Mostafa describes the Astrophysical Multimessenger Observatory Network (AMON), an online network that enables real-time coincidence searches using data from the leading multimessenger observatories and astronomical facilities.

    • Miguel Mostafá
  • Research Highlight |

    An article in PNAS demonstrates optical control of neuronal activity using graphene flakes grown on silicon nanowires.

    • Ankita Anirban
  • Comment |

    The development of a new generation of detectors has been key to the success of X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs). Anna Bergamaschi, Aldo Mozzanica and Bernd Schmitt discuss the advances in detector technology made over the past 10 years and examine the challenges presented by emerging high-repetition-rate XFEL facilities.

    • Anna Bergamaschi
    • , Aldo Mozzanica
    •  & Bernd Schmitt
  • Comment |

    The European XFEL is the first hard X-ray high-repetition-rate free-electron laser facility. Sakura Pascarelli, Serguei Molodtsov and Thomas Tschentscher, scientific directors of the European XFEL, discuss the challenges that lie ahead before the European XFEL can reach its full potential and cater for an international and diverse community of users.

    • Sakura Pascarelli
    • , Serguei Molodtsov
    •  & Thomas Tschentscher
  • Comment |

    The first decade of X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) has led to technological advances and scientific discoveries, but has also highlighted several facility-level challenges. Chi-Chang Kao, Director of SLAC, discusses the lessons to be learned from the first 10 years of operation and shares his thoughts on how facilities can overcome challenges facing XFEL development.

    • Chi-Chang Kao
  • Comment |

    X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) have rapidly developed into unique tools for probing diverse systems of interest to different scientific disciplines with angstrom–femtosecond resolution. Claudio Pellegrini provides an overview of the milestones in the development of XFELs and their unique capabilities.

    • Claudio Pellegrini
  • Editorial |

    Epidemiological modelling informs government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, but confusion abounds about the models. What can physicists do to help?

  • Research Highlight |

    Two papers in Nature report strong coupling between photons and free, unbound electrons. This opens up the possibility for higher resolution, ultrafast imaging using lower energy and less-destructive electron beams.

    • Ankita Anirban
  • Comment |

    The rise of machine learning is moving research away from tightly controlled, theory-guided experiments towards an approach based on data-driven searches. Abbas Ourmazd describes how this change might profoundly affect our understanding and practice of physics.

    • Abbas Ourmazd
  • Research Highlight |

    Twenty-five years ago, a paper by Ignacio Cirac and Peter Zoller turned quantum computing from a bold theoretical idea to an experimental race to build an actual device. Today, engineering challenges remain, but first-generation practical quantum computers seem tangible.

    • Iulia Georgescu
  • Research Highlight |

    During the COVID-19 lockdown, the flourishing of online seminars is opening up the new frontiers of physics to an unprecedented number of scientists.

    • Giulia Pacchioni