Physics World celebrates anniversary with mind-boggling puzzles

3 Oct 2013Bristol, UK

Physics World is today celebrating 25 years as the membership magazine of the Institute of Physics (IOP) with a set of "fiendish physics-themed puzzles" to test even the brainiest of the magazine’s readers.

Devised by staff at the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the various puzzles involve de-coding ciphers and solving logic problems before arriving at physics-themed answers – a similar puzzle was recently used by GCHQ to attract potential employees.

The first of the puzzles has appeared on the Physics World blog today, 3 October, and will be followed by another four puzzles, one every Tuesday throughout October, which will get progressively more challenging.

The puzzles coincide with a special issue of Physics World that looks back at some of the highlights in physics over the last 25 years and looks forward to where the subject is going next.

The issue includes the editorial team's choice of the top five discoveries in fundamental physics over the last quarter of a century as well as the five best images from the same period that have allowed us to "see" a physical phenomenon or effect.

The landmark discoveries include the accelerating expansion of the universe – for which the 2011 Nobel prize was awarded – and the sighting at CERN of the Higgs boson. Quantum teleportation, Bose–Einstein condensates and the experimental proof that neutrinos have mass make up the rest of the top five discoveries.

The team has also highlighted the five spin-offs from physics research that have the potential to change the world and five people who are currently changing how we do physics.

The fifth and final "top five" of the special issue is Physics World's choice of the five biggest unanswered questions in physics right now, with the nature of the challenges described by five leading physicists from around the world.

"We think the puzzles are going to really stretch even the brightest minds," says Matin Durrani, who has been editor of Physics World since 2006. "You won't need any physics to solve them, but they are certainly going to make you think and they're a fun way to celebrate our 25th anniversary. I also hope our top fives in the birthday issue of Physics World will remind everyone just how vital, enjoyable and interesting physics can be."

While October’s edition of Physics World is currently exclusively available to members of the IOP in print, online and through the Physics World apps, it will be available to download as a free PDF on 16 October as a celebration of the magazine’s anniversary.