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Physics World September 2016

Breath easy: How breath can reveal crowd behaviour

Physics World September 2016
Breathe easy: How breath can reveal crowd behaviour

The cover story in the September 2016 issue of Physics World magazine reveals the fascinating new field of “crowd breath research”, which can even shed light on how cinema audiences react during the changing scenes in a movie.

The September issue also shows how to do crystallography without crystals, explains how first data from the Gaia spacecraft could revolutionize astronomy (see the above video for more on that), and contains one physics teacher’s fascinating story about what she did to change her school’s gender balance.

Don’t miss either reader feedback on the potential impact of Britain leaving the EU on physics or Robert P Crease’s Critical Point column on why science denial is one of the most important issues in the US presidential campaign.


Also inside the issue:

New era for quantum space science – China has launched a probe to test the feasibility of quantum communication between ground and space, as Ling Xin reports

Turkish science reels from travel ban – A failed coup by a faction of the Turkish military in July has resulted in the government imposing restrictions on researchers, as Michael Banks reports

How YouTube can inspire – Ansh Bhatnagar says that online videos about physics could play an important part in inspiring the next generation of scientists

Fighting science denial – Ahead of this autumn’s US presidential election, Robert P Crease proposes five ways to encourage a responsible discussion of scientific issues

Every breath we take – Research from a cinema in Germany shows how the breath of a crowd can reflect how they’re feeling, as Stephen Ornes reports

A billion pixels, a billion stars – The Gaia spacecraft is conducting the most ambitious and thorough census of our galaxy ever attempted, gathering data on 100,000 stars every hour. With the mission’s first major data release due this month, Gerry Gilmore and Floor van Leeuwen explain how the spacecraft works and assess its likely impact on the field of astrophysics

Diffract, then destroy – A new implementation of X-ray diffraction using free-electron lasers can take snapshots of biological molecules that are inaccessible via X-ray crystallography. As Philip Ball reports, the technique can even be used to create stop-motion films of dynamic molecular processes

Adventures in search of auroras – Colin Forsyth reviews Aurora: In Search of the Northern Lights by Melanie Windridge

The risks and rewards of radiation – Jun Deng reviews Strange Glow: the Story of Radiation by Timothy Jorgensen

A conference of our own – Setting up a brand-new student-run conference isn’t easy, but for Adam O’Connell and Reaal Khalil, it was an opportunity to develop skills that a standard physics degree course just doesn’t provide.

Once a physicist – Ruth Itzhaki is professor emerita of molecular neurobiology at the University of Manchester and honorary senior research fellow at the University of Oxford, UK

Gender balance, one woman at a timeDebbie Hayton on her experiences as a physics teacher after transitioning from male to female

If you’re a member of the Institute of Physics (IOP), you can now enjoy immediate access to the new issue with the digital edition of the magazine in your web browser or on any iOS or Android mobile device (just download the Physics World app from the App Store or Google Play). If you’re not yet in the IOP, you can join as an IOPimember for just £15, €20 or $25 a year to get full access to Physics World digital.

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Physics World Special Report: China
Pushing the frontiers of physics

This Physics World special report on physics in China reveals some of the challenges and opportunities facing physicists in the world’s most populous country. Physics World is published by the UK’s Institute of Physics (IOP), which was founded in 1874 and now has more than 50,000 members around the world. IOP is also one of the world’s leading physics publishers, producing more than 70 journals as well as ebooks, magazines, conference proceedings and websites (see We published our first special report on China in 2011 but so much is going on that we felt that it is time for another.

Access the focus issue now online or via our app, available now on iOS from the App Store, and on Android from Google Play.

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