Research addressing the gender imbalance in physics highlights the importance of a physics teacher recognizing a female student as being a "physics person." But what does this recognition look like? To examine this question, Hazari and Cass collected video recordings, field notes, interviews, and surveys from high-school physics teachers and students and developed a case study of a student who, because of her teacher's modes of recognition, began to see herself as a physics person. Results show that although the teacher did not perceive the student as a physics person, the student felt another way based on her perception of his actions (she believed her teacher saw her as a physics person), suggesting that regardless of what teachers themselves believe, their behaviors can enable students' physics identity development.
The field of particle physics is in a peculiar state. The standard model of particle theory successfully describes every fundamental particle and force observed in laboratories, yet fails to explain properties of the universe such as the existence of dark matter, the amount of dark energy, and the preponderance of matter over antimatter. Huge experiments, of increasing scale and cost, continue to search for new particles and forces that might explain these phenomena. However, these frontiers also are explored in certain smaller, laboratory-scale "tabletop" experiments. This approach uses precision measurement techniques and devices from atomic, quantum, and condensed-matter physics to detect tiny signals due to new particles or forces.
The only thing I know about the Freeze is that no one can beat the Freeze (except with a generous head start). In case you haven't seen, the Freeze is this guy in a turquoise spandex suit that challenges mere mortals to a race in the outfield of the Atlanta Braves SunTrust Park between innings. Overall, this seems like a great physics problem. It's a variation of "a train leaves from Chicago traveling at 20 mph while a train leaves from New York traveling at 40 mph--where do they meet?" But the physics is the same.
Strictly speaking, my pick for best science book of the year is actually about philosophy of science. But in this case, a philosopher has found a solution to one of the great nagging problems inspired by modern science. If everything really is determined--right down to the subatomic particles and even lower levels, how can humans have truly free will? Here's what classical physics tells us about our choices, writes Jenann Ismael in her book How Physics Makes Us Free (Oxford University Press). This image provided by NASA shows a barred spiral galaxy 130 million light-years away and is one of the measurements that astronomers used to come up with a faster rate of expansion of the universe.
The scientists revealed key properties of the cosmos by measuring its oldest light. For instance, the universe is 13.8 billion years old. Only five percent of it is made up of atoms. About 70 percent of the universe is dark energy, a kind of anti-gravity that was first introduced by Albert Einstein.