Monday, December 21, 2015

APS Physics Highlights of 2015

APS's Physics lists its highlight stories of 2015.

I need to point out something important that a casual reader might miss. The story on the 3D imaging  of a virus may appear to be an advancement in biology or medical science. And it is, because this allows us to understand a virus better than before. However, it should be pointed out that this capability came into being because of advances in accelerator  science. The imaging was done at SLAC's LCLS, which is a free-electron light source. This involves an advancement FIRST in accelerator science. Only after that are we able to create such a FEL that can produce light sources to do the imaging.

The point I'm trying to make here is that, if you value the field of biology and all the medical advances to help you live better, you should look at how these fields are able to accomplish such a thing. Just look at the National Institute of Health's funding projects, and see how many of them use instruments and facilities that all started out as something a physicist would use. Only later on were they adopted for use in other fields.

So without proper funding and support for the very basic research in physics, which in turn drives not only knowledge, but also the advancement in instrumentation and facilities, these new techniques and technology will not trickle down to the field of biology, chemistry, and medicine.


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