Sidney Perkowitz is an American scientist and science writer. He studied physics at the Polytechnic University of New York and earned his Ph. D. in 1967 at the University of Pennsylvania where he researched the properties of matter. Starting in the 1990s, he focused on presenting science to non-scientists and began to write popular science books that have been translated into several languages. His book "Hollywood Science" discovers many physical errors and enables the general public to take a scientiﬁc view of popular blockbusters.
If I hadn't become a physicist ...
...I would have become a writer. In a way, I achieved both because my research career blended into my second career in writing.
What is the most beautiful conference venue you know?
The University of California at Santa Barbara and at San Diego (La Jolla) both present the unique California blend of sunshine and beautiful views.
What else moves you besides physics and work?
I was raised in New York City where the cultural richness made me a life-long lover of visual art, film, dance, and music. The arts are important to me and my writing often blends science and art.
What is your relation to the DPG?
I live in the U. S. and belong to the American Physical Society. I do know that the DPG is the world’s biggest physics society.
How do you imagine the DPG to be in the future or at its 200th anniversary in 2045?
I would wish that by 2045, the DPG and its members will have played a big role in influencing Germany, Europe and the world to turn back global warming and keep our planet green and livable.
What task do you see for physics in the society of tomorrow?
Physicists have barely begun to use their tools to help humanity in medical applications, wise use of energy, and more. I would like to see the physics profession give equal weight to the search for understanding through academic research; and to helping people and society through applied research. Also Increasing diversity in physics is an important task.
Why should physicists become more involved in political discourse or everyday life?
One reason is self-interest: physicists who understand politics and daily life can be good champions for society to support physics. A second reason is that physics should not only be a specialized science; it should also enrich human culture.
What topic(s) does your thesis deal with?
I studied electronic properties of exotic semiconductors, to add to the knowledge base of materials with technological potential.
Which questions in physics inspire you most today?
Recent progress in cosmology through such efforts as the ESA Planck satellite, and the astrophysical search for biomolecules in space, inspire me as they seek the origins of the universe and the origins of life.
What are you working on today?
My work today is science writing. I’m writing a book about the science behind forensics and how it can help police and the courts solve crimes and find the guility.
What would you like to give to the young scientists?
A general comment is that scientists can always be proud of their career choice, which is richer and more meaningful than many other career paths. My practical comment is to maintain two research projects, a risky one that may produce a breakthrough, and a more established one with good odds of receiving funding.
Physics is like ....
...life, but with more math.
Bild: Ann Watson, Emory Photo/Video