On your wavelength

Interactions: Ankita Anirban

Ankita joins Nature Reviews Physics after a brief period as locum associate editor at Nature Reviews Materials. After a BSc degree from King’s College London, Ankita went on to pursue an MPhil at the University of Cambridge, on low-temperature transport of one-dimensional electron systems. She then continued with PhD studies on the theme of electron transport of topological insulator heterostructures at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge.

What made you want to be a physicist?

As a child, I loved fantasy novels and used to wish that I lived in a world with magic, elves and dragons. Physics classes at school seemed dull in comparison, until I discovered quantum mechanics through popular science books as a teenager. Suddenly it seemed that our world could be as crazy as Alice in Wonderland with strange phenomena like entanglement and superposition of particles. This seemed cooler than dragons as we could actually “see” these things happen in a lab – and so I became a physicist!

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

A travel writer/journalist. I’d love to explore lots of interesting and remote places around the world and write about the stories and people I met.

Which is the development that you would really like to see in the next 10 years?

I want science to become more accessible. So many non-scientists are intimidated by the idea of science and maths. I would love for science to become “dinner table conversation” in the way politics or books or films are for the general public.

What would be your (physics) superpower?

To have magic eyes – that can work as a microscope (maybe even an electron microscope!) and zoom into all the details of things around me, and also as a telescope to see distant galaxies.

What’s your favourite (quasi-)particle?

Probably the humble electron. It’s not a glamorous particle, but I’ve spent years making electronic devices which I think of as “electron playgrounds” so I have grown attached to them.

What Sci-Fi gadget / technology would you most like to have / see come true (and why)?

Definitely a time-machine. Ignoring all the related paradoxes I’d have to deal with, I want to be able to transport myself to the past and actually find out what history was like.

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