by Brian Clegg
5 Aug 2021
The breakthroughs that have had the most transformative practical impacts, from thermodynamics to the Internet. Physics informs our understanding of how the world works - but more than that, key breakthroughs in physics have transformed everyday life. We journey back to ten separate days in history to understand how particular breakthroughs were achieved, meet the individuals responsible and see how each breakthrough has influenced our lives.
It is a unique selection. Focusing on practical impact means there is no room for Stephen Hawking's work on black holes, or the discovery of the Higgs boson. Instead we have the relatively little-known Rudolf Clausius (thermodynamics) and Heike Kamerlingh Onnes (superconductivity), while Albert Einstein is included not for his theories of relativity but for the short paper that gave us E=mc2 (nuclear fission).
Later chapters feature transistors, LEDs and the Internet.