Friday, October 06, 2006

Physics gets dirty

[This is my Materials Witness column for the November issue of Nature Materials.]

My copy of The New Physics, published in 1989 by Cambridge University Press, is much thumbed. Now regarded as something of a classic, it provides a peerless overview of key areas of modern physics, written by leading experts who achieve the rare combination of depth and clarity.

It’s reasonable, then, to regard the revised edition, just published as The New Physics for the 21st Century, as something of an authoritative statement on what’s in and what’s out in physics. And so it is striking to see materials, more or less entirely absent from the 1989 book, prominent on the new agenda.

Most noticeably, Robert Cahn of Cambridge University has contributed a chapter called ‘Physics and materials’, which covers topics ranging from dopant distributions in semiconductors to liquid crystal displays, photovoltaics and magnetic storage. In addition, Yoseph Imry of the Weizmann Institute in Israel contributes a chapter on ‘Small-scale structure and nanoscience’, a snapshot of one of the hottest areas of materials science.

All very well, but it begs the question of why materials science was, according to this measure, more or less absent from twentieth-century physics but central to that of the twenty-first. Indeed, one might have thought that the traditional image of materials science as an empirical engineering discipline with a theoretical framework based in classical mechanics looks far from cutting-edge, and would hardly rival the appeal of quantum field theory or cosmology.

Of course, topics such as inflationary theory and quantum gravity are still very much on the menu. But the new book drops topics that might be deemed the epitome of physicists’ reputed delight in abstraction: gone are the chapters on grand unified theories, gauge theories, and the conceptual foundations of quantum theory. Even Stephen Hawking’s contribution on ‘The edge of spacetime’ has been axed (a brave move by the publishers) in favour of down-to-earth biophysics and medical physics.

So what took physics so long to realize that it must acknowledge its material aspects? “Straight physicists alternate between the deep conviction that they could do materials science much better than trained materials scientists (they are apt to regards the latter as fictional) and a somewhat stand-offish refusal to take an interest”, claims Cahn.

One could also say that physics has sometimes tried to transcend material particularities. “There has been the thought that condensed matter and material physics is second-rate dirty, applied stuff”, Imry says. Even though condensed matter is fairly well served in the first edition, it tended to be rather dematerialized, couched in terms of critical points, dimensionality, theories of quantum phase transitions. But it is now clear that universality has its limits – high-temperature superconductors need their own theory, graphene is not like a copper monolayer nor poly(phenylene vinylene) like silicon.

“Nanoscience has both universal aspects, which has been much of the focus of modern physics, and variety due to the wealth of real materials”, says Imry. “That’s a part of the beauty of this field!”


Anonymous said...

歐美a免費線上看,熊貓貼圖區,ec成人,聊天室080,aaa片免費看短片,dodo豆豆聊天室,一對一電話視訊聊天,自拍圖片集,走光露點,123456免費電影,本土自拍,美女裸體寫真,影片轉檔程式,成人視訊聊天,貼圖俱樂部,辣妹自拍影片,自拍電影免費下載,電話辣妹視訊,情色自拍貼圖,卡通做愛影片下載,日本辣妹自拍全裸,美女裸體模特兒,showlive影音聊天網,日本美女寫真,色情網,台灣自拍貼圖,情色貼圖貼片,百分百成人圖片 ,情色網站,a片網站,ukiss聊天室,卡通成人網,3級女星寫真,080 苗栗人聊天室,成人情色小說,免費成人片觀賞,

傑克論壇,維納斯成人用品,免費漫畫,內衣廣告美女,免費成人影城,a漫,國中女孩寫真自拍照片,ut男同志聊天室,女優,網友自拍,aa片免費看影片,玩美女人短片試看片,草莓論壇,kiss911貼圖片區,免費電影,免費成人,歐美 性感 美女 桌布,視訊交友高雄網,工藤靜香寫真集,金瓶梅免費影片,成人圖片 ,女明星裸體寫真,台灣處女貼圖貼片區,成人小遊戲,布蘭妮貼圖片區,美女視訊聊天,免費情色卡通短片,免費av18禁影片,小高聊天室,小老鼠論壇,免費a長片線上看,真愛love777聊天室,聊天ukiss,情色自拍貼圖,寵物女孩自拍網,免費a片下載,日本情色寫真,美女內衣秀,色情網,

Anonymous said...


女優王國,免費無碼a片,0800a片區,免費線上遊戲,無名正妹牆,成人圖片,寫真美女,av1688影音娛樂網,dodo豆豆聊天室,網拍模特兒,成人文學,免費試看a片,a片免費看,成人情色小說,美腿絲襪,影片下載,美女a片,人體寫真模特兒,熊貓成人貼,kiss情色,美女遊戲區,104 貼圖區,線上看,aaa片免費看影片,天堂情色,躺伯虎聊天室,洪爺情色網,kiss情色網,貼影區,雄貓貼圖,080苗栗人聊天室,都都成人站,尋夢園聊天室,a片線上觀看,無碼影片,情慾自拍,免費成人片,影音城論壇,情色成人,最新免費線上遊戲,a383影音城,美腿,色情寫真,xxx383成人視訊,視訊交友90739,av女優影片,