On your wavelength

Interactions: Luke Fleet

Luke Fleet is a Senior Editor & Team Leader at Nature. He joined Nature Research in 2013 as an editor at Nature Communications, before moving to Nature Physics in 2014, and then to Nature in 2017. He’s responsible for selecting the research papers that are published across a range of fields, including applied physics and electronics, and also assists in devising and delivering the goals for the physics team.

 What made you want to be a physicist?

It was more chance than an active decision, so let’s go with luck and curiosity. Like many people, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I was younger and so I decided to carry on in education to basically avoid having to choose. In doing so, I pursued something that I found interesting. Luckily for me, that was physics!

If you weren’t a physicist, what would you like to be (and why)?

If I could choose anything, then I’d want to be a musician or a footballer, as these are my hobbies, but I think people have already said these so I’m going to go with joiner. I actually worked for several years when I was a teenager building things like rabbit hutches and dog kennels, and there are lots of things about working outside crafting something that are satisfying so that’s my back-up if this career goes south.

Which historical figure would you most like to have dinner with — and why?

There are so many to choose from but let’s go with Leonardo Pisano (Fibonacci). He convinced Europeans to switch from Roman numerals to Hindu-Arabic numbers and if you ever have the pleasure of visiting Pisa you’ll see that he also inspired the Church to put a Fibonacci sequence-based artwork above the main entrance to the church of San Nicola. Relatively little is known about Fibonacci so I’d love to know how he managed to convince so many people to embrace arithmetic mathematics during the Middle Ages.

What would be your (physics) superpower?

When I was a researcher I worked with magnets and if they were big enough then then I liked to think that I was like Magneto from the X-men, so that’s the superpower I want: mastery of electromagentism, without trying to instigate a civil war.

What’s your favourite (quasi-)particle?

I’m really a condensed matter physicist at heart, so is has to be a quasiparticle. And whilst there are so many to choose, I’d have to say Weyl fermions. Physicists had been searching for these particles for decades but they were discovered not long after I started working as an editor. It was pretty exciting covering these advances at the time, so I think I’m always going to have a Weyl soft spot.

If you could have an effect or equation named after you, what would it be?

I love playing football and like to think I have some mastery over the Magnussen effect. I know that already exists but I’d like to discover a new effect related to spinning objects so that I can improve my shooting, which is definitely getting worse with age.

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