The Golden Age of Physics is… Right Now

Letter from the Chair
Shyamsunder Erramilli, August 2023

As we prepare to welcome a new generation of students in Physics, I can still vividly recall my own first experiences as a student. We were taught of a “Golden Age in Physics” early in the 20th century when the wonders of relativity and quantum physics began to be revealed. Learning of those storied experiments and theories was thrilling. But there was a bit of downside. Was that supposed to be Peak Physics? When the first derivative was zero, and the second derivative was negative? Were we therefore training in a field in decline?

Since joining Boston University, I have had the good fortune to learn of amazing new discoveries in all areas of 21st century Physics. In my own field of Biological Physics, in Particle Physics, Condensed Matter Physics, Cosmology and Computational Physics, discoveries are being made that were scarcely imaginable in my student days. We are ushering in the “Quantum 2.0” revolution, a term that resonates with dynamism with the promise of great discoveries to follow.

It is essential to recognize that the breakthroughs of the 1920s occurred at a time when a significant portion of humanity, including women and minority groups, were excluded from participating in physics. We were only playing with half a team. Think of this era as the time when the gates swung open for individuals who were previously sidelined, just like Jackie Robinson’s arrival onto the baseball field shattered barriers and ignited a new chapter in history. We are now entering an era where every corner of the globe contributes to our collective understanding of Physics. This is a time when the tremendous pool of untapped talent in Native America, Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and beyond will join the Physics team enriching our discoveries and advancing our quest for knowledge.

The Golden Age of Physics is … right now.


Chair of the Department