Commentary

  • Commentary |

    As we move beyond the twentieth anniversary of the teleportation of a quantum state, it's clear that the coming years will be just as fruitful.

    • Anton Zeilinger
  • Commentary |

    The validity of our scientific descriptions of reality does not hinge on their emergence from a more fundamental theory.

    • George Ellis
    •  & David Sloan
  • Commentary |

    The two-way symmetry of electromagnetic wave propagation can be broken effectively in optomechanical systems, enabling new devices that route photons in unconventional ways.

    • Ewold Verhagen
    •  & Andrea Alù
  • Commentary |

    The emergent phenomena that characterize quantum materials have received prominent exposure thanks to experimental techniques based on photoemission. In turn, the challenges and opportunities presented by quantum materials have driven improvements in the photoemission technology itself.

    • Nuh Gedik
    •  & Inna Vishik
  • Commentary |

    Science prizes should better reflect how modern science is carried out, argue Shivaji Sondhi and Steven Kivelson.

    • Shivaji Sondhi
    •  & Steven Kivelson
  • Commentary |

    Physicists are accustomed to dealing with large datasets, yet they are fortunate in that the quality of their experimental data is very good. The onset of big data has led to an explosion of datasets with a far more complex structure — a development that requires new tools and a different mindset.

    • Jeff Byers
  • Commentary |

    INSPIRE, the central information resource of the high-energy physics community, pioneered the open dissemination of scientific literature. It has been evolving to keep up with the new technologies and it is not slowing down.

    • Bernard L. Hecker
  • Commentary |

    That we now live in the grip of post-factualism would seem naturally repellent to most physicists. But in championing theory without demanding empirical evidence, we're guilty of ignoring the facts ourselves.

    • Sabine Hossenfelder
  • Commentary |

    Introduced originally to mimic the unusual, frustrated behaviour of spin ice pyrochlores, artificial spin ice can be realized in odd, dedicated geometries that open the door to new manifestations of a higher level of frustration.

    • Cristiano Nisoli
    • , Vassilios Kapaklis
    •  & Peter Schiffer
  • Commentary |

    Physics teaching in schools could be transformed by highlighting its role in the animal kingdom.

    • Matin Durrani
  • Commentary |

    Secure communication is emerging as a significant challenge for our hyper-connected data-dependent society. The answer may lie in a clever combination of quantum and classical cryptographic techniques.

    • Eleni Diamanti
    •  & Elham Kashefi
  • Commentary |

    An old branch of mathematics has paved the way for discovering new phases of matter.

    • Manuel Asorey
  • Commentary |

    Topological matter can host low-energy quasiparticles, which, in a superconductor, are Majorana fermions described by a real wavefunction. The absence of complex phases provides protection for quantum computations based on topological superconductivity.

    • Carlo Beenakker
    •  & Leo Kouwenhoven
  • Commentary |

    The topological state of matter depends on its dimension. Remarkably, topological properties of quasiperiodic systems are found to emerge from higher dimensions.

    • Yaacov E. Kraus
    •  & Oded Zilberberg
  • Commentary |

    Optics played a key role in the discovery of geometric phase. It now joins the journey of exploring topological physics, bringing bosonic topological states that equip us with the ability to make perfect photonic devices using imperfect interfaces.

    • Ling Lu
    • , John D. Joannopoulos
    •  & Marin Soljačić
  • Commentary |

    Electronic topological insulators have inspired the design of new mechanical systems that could soon find real-life applications.

    • Sebastian D. Huber
  • Commentary |

    The announcement confirming the discovery of gravitational waves created sensational media interest. But educational outreach and communication must remain high on the agenda if the general public is to understand such a landmark result.

    • Joey Shapiro Key
    •  & Martin Hendry
  • Commentary |

    Fusion power is one of a very few sustainable options to replace fossil fuels as the world's primary energy source. Although the conditions for fusion have been reached, much remains to be done to turn scientific success into commercial electrical power.

    • Steven C. Cowley
  • Commentary |

    Energy-producing nuclear fusion reactions taking place in tokamaks cause radiation damage and radioactivity. Remote-handling technology for repairing and replacing in-vessel components has evolved enormously over the past two decades — and is now being deployed elsewhere too.

    • Rob Buckingham
    •  & Antony Loving
  • Commentary |

    Fusion research is driven by the applied goal of energy production from fusion reactions. There is, however, a wealth of fundamental physics to be discovered and studied along the way. This Commentary discusses selected developments in diagnostics and present-day research topics in high-temperature plasma physics.

    • Alexander V. Melnikov
  • Commentary |

    For a problem as complex as turbulence, combining universal concepts from statistical physics with ideas from fluid mechanics has proven indispensable. Three decades since this link was formed, it is still providing food for new thought.

    • Yves Pomeau
  • Commentary |

    Many-electron wavefunctions face the exponential-wall problem at large electron numbers. Formulating wavefunctions with the help of cumulants effectively avoids this problem and provides a valuable starting point for electronic-structure calculations for solids.

    • Peter Fulde
  • Commentary |

    Sustaining and measuring high temperatures in fusion plasmas is a challenging task that requires different heating systems and diagnostic tools. Information on the spatial distribution of temperature is one of the key elements for improving and controlling plasma performance.

    • Didier Mazon
    • , Christel Fenzi
    •  & Roland Sabot
  • Commentary |

    The redefinition of several physical base units planned for 2018 requires precise knowledge of the values of certain fundamental physical constants. Scientists are working hard to meet the deadlines for realizing the ultimate International System of Units.

    • Joachim Fischer
    •  & Joachim Ullrich
  • Commentary |

    In the quest for ever-lower temperatures, making new discoveries and overcoming technical challenges go hand in hand — and push the limits of thermometry standardization.

    • Juha Tuoriniemi
  • Commentary |

    The past 25 years have seen tremendous progress in thermometry across the moderate temperature range of 1 K to 1,235 K. Various primary thermometers, based on a wide range of different physics, have uncovered errors in the International Temperature Scale of 1990, and set the stage for the planned redefinition of the kelvin.

    • Michael R. Moldover
    • , Weston L. Tew
    •  & Howard W. Yoon
  • Commentary |

    Bose–Einstein condensation in atomic gases was first observed in 1995. As we look back at the past 20 years of this thriving field, it's clear that there is much to celebrate.

    • Wolfgang Ketterle
  • Commentary |

    Career opportunities are often a matter of chance, but also of a willingness to cross interdisciplinary boundaries.

    • Abraham Loeb
  • Commentary |

    Condensed-matter physics brings us quasiparticles that behave like massless fermions.

    • B. Andrei Bernevig
  • Commentary |

    What is it about the Hubble Space Telescope that so captivates its users and the public at large? I offer my personal views on this iconic telescope.

    • Luis C. Ho
  • Commentary |

    A new NASA mission will reveal the electron-scale physics of magnetic reconnection, a process that connects our planet to the rest of the Universe.

    • Thomas Earle Moore
    • , James L. Burch
    •  & Roy B. Torbert
  • Commentary |

    Quantum technologies, including quantum sensors, quantum communication and quantum metrology, represent a growing industry. Out in space, such technologies can revolutionize the way we communicate and observe our planet.

    • Kai Bongs
    • , Michael Holynski
    •  & Yeshpal Singh
  • Commentary |

    On astronomical scales, gravity is the engine of the Universe. The launch of LISA Pathfinder this year to prepare the technology to detect gravitational waves will help us 'listen' to the whole Universe.

    • Karsten Danzmann
  • Commentary |

    This year, NASA's Dawn and New Horizons rendezvoused with Ceres and Pluto, respectively. These worlds, despite their modest sizes, have much to teach us about the accretion of the Solar System and its dynamical evolution.

    • William B. McKinnon
  • Commentary |

    The history of the fierce opposition met by Einstein's theory of relativity in the 1920s teaches us that public controversies about science are not necessarily settled by sound scientific reasoning.

    • Milena Wazeck
  • Commentary |

    Coupling electromagnetic waves to mechanical waves has led to a remarkable miniaturization of wireless communication technologies. Now, spin waves could provide us with technologies that are small and reprogrammable.

    • Dirk Grundler
  • Commentary |

    Research in high-energy physics produces masses of data, demanding extensive computational resources. The scientists responsible for managing these resources are now turning to cloud and high-performance computing.

    • Sergey Panitkin
  • Commentary |

    Writing efficient scientific software that makes best use of the increasing complexity of computer architectures requires bringing together modelling, applied mathematics and computer engineering. Physics may help unite these approaches.

    • Thomas C. Schulthess
  • Commentary |

    Granting access to publications and data may be a step towards open science, but it's not enough to ensure reproducibility. Making computer code available is also necessary — but the emphasis must be on the quality of the programming.

    • Tony Hey
    •  & Mike C. Payne
  • Commentary |

    Research in quantum optics has already led to commercial technologies, but the gap between the lab and market products is still large. Looking from the industrial side, one can see ways of bridging this gap.

    • Jürgen Stuhler
  • Commentary |

    New quantum algorithms promise an exponential speed-up for machine learning, clustering and finding patterns in big data. But to achieve a real speed-up, we need to delve into the details.

    • Scott Aaronson
  • Commentary |

    Magnetocaloric and electrocaloric effects are driven by doing work, but this work has barely been explored, even though these caloric effects are being exploited in a growing number of prototype cooling devices.

    • Xavier Moya
    • , Emmanuel Defay
    • , Volker Heine
    •  & Neil D. Mathur
  • Commentary |

    Recent ultracold atom experiments reveal the wavefunction dynamics in the quantum Hall regime.

    • Wolfgang Ketterle
  • Commentary |

    Our framework for understanding non-equilibrium behaviour is yet to match the simplicity and power of equilibrium statistical physics. But recent theoretical and experimental advances reveal key principles that unify seemingly unrelated topics.

    • Christopher Jarzynski
  • Commentary |

    Monolayer films of iron selenide deposited on strontium titanate display signatures of superconductivity at temperatures as high as 109 K. These recent developments may herald a flurry of exciting findings concerning superconductivity at interfaces.

    • Ivan Bozovic
    •  & Charles Ahn
  • Commentary |

    University culture stands at a critical crossroads: the era of team science is upon us functionally, but not yet structurally. Solutions to the problems this mismatch creates involve rethinking education — and giving credit where credit is due.

    • Ioannis Pavlidis
    • , Alexander M. Petersen
    •  & Ioanna Semendeferi
  • Commentary |

    Discoveries in astronomy — or, in fact, any branch of science — can only happen when people are open-minded and willing to take risks.

    • Abraham Loeb
  • Commentary |

    Our perception of colour has always been a source of fascination, so it's little wonder that studies of the phenomenon date back hundreds of years. What, though, can modern scientists learn from medieval literature — and how do we go about it?

    • Hannah E. Smithson
    • , Giles E. M. Gasper
    •  & Tom C. B. McLeish
  • Commentary |

    Iranian scientists are growing increasingly isolated because of political tensions between Iran and the West. We attempt to alleviate this problem through science diplomacy.

    • Warren E. Pickett
    • , Anthony J. Leggett
    •  & Paul C. W. Chu