Welcome from the Chair

Physics matters.

Physicists explore the most fundamental questions in science. Less than 5% of what fills the universe is atoms and ordinary matter: what is the rest? Why do different measurements give different sizes for the proton? Can a deeper understanding of symmetry unravel the mysteries of the subatomic scale, or help understand materials science?

Physicists create the tools which underpin most scientific and societal advances. The transistor, the integrated circuit, the laser, and virtually every medical imaging method started as basic physics. In the 1940s, studying the properties of nuclear spin was the height of esoteric science; today it is the basis of magnetic resonance imaging, and can even be used to watch people think. Every day at Duke, dozens of patients have tumors imaged with antimatter. Bizarre effects in quantum mechanics, such as forbidden states and entanglement, show promise to improve computing, secure communications and diagnose disease.

Physicists at Duke work on these problems, and many more. We operate from a tradition of great scientists, including Nobel Laureates, going back to the beginning of the university. And the best is yet to come. We are building fantastic laboratory space, looking in new directions, and exploiting the wonderful Duke environment for interdisciplinary science. I invite you to look through these pages, to get a sense of the excitement of Duke Physics and the promise of the future.

Warren S. Warren, Chair