As Andy Williams sang: It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, not Christmas – the Nobel Prizes were awarded! This year, the Nobel Prize Committee had a special gift for us: A Nobel Prize for Quantum Physics! Exactly 10 years after the last big Nobel Prize was awarded to the quantum physicists Serge Haroche and David Wineland. No question that we have to take a closer look.
I think it’s worth it to look at the little phenomena sometimes, to find the wow moments in everyday life and to ask yourself silly questions sometimes. You guessed it: The other day I had such a stupid question in my head. I was sitting in a café eating an excellent chocolate tartlet. The logical thought that came to me as I ate was: what is the food with the most calories? Does that even exist?
It’s over! Six months after submitting my doctoral thesis, 5 years after starting my doctorate, 10.5 years after my first day at university – doctor rerum naturalium! The end boss is defeated, the disputation is over! And of course, I want to share with you what this defence is all about, how I prepared for it and also how disputations can differ from one another.
It’s 8th of March and that means: it’s International Women’s Day! In Berlin, it’s even a public holiday! This year’s motto is #BreakTheBias – for a world free of stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination. As a woman in physics, you can be sure that I can say something about this subject. Today, I don’t want to feed you too many numbers (there are plenty on the web), but rather tell you about my own personal experiences.
Even scientists are only human. That’s why success stories often read like a comic book: great heroes fighting for the good of humanity. From another perspective, however, it sometimes seems more like the nagging of old white men arguing over who is right. We have already seen a few examples of this: Boltzmann and Planck fighting over entropy, Thomson and Rutherford decoding the atom, Newton and the rest of the world racking their brains over the nature of light. And the Stern-Gerlach experiment, which celebrated its hundredth anniversary this month and which is a milestone of quantum physics, was ultimately the invention of a scientist who desperately wanted to be right.
Polar ice, the moon, the quantum world – what do these places have in common? There is no Wi-Fi? Possibly. It’s uncomfortable? Probably. They are uninhabited? Not at all! All these places have (allegedly) already been seen by a certain living being. Sometimes by choice, sometimes by design, sometimes by accident. What kind of creature is it that hangs around in such exotic, hostile places? It is small, chubby and it’s name: Tardigrade! In 2014, tardigrades were found in the Arctic that had been “hibernating” for over 30 years. Since a crash landing of an Israeli space probe in 2019, a few tardigrades have been lying on the moon. And according to a group of researchers, tardigrades have now also made the leap into the quantum world! But is that really true?