A joint Fermilab/SLAC publication
Illustration by Sandbox Studio, Chicago

#FollowFriday II: Physicists to follow on Twitter


In the second installment in a series, symmetry interviews four more physicists you can follow on Twitter.

Social media has opened new channels of communication—between entertainers and audiences, businesses and consumers, representatives and constituents. It also offers a direct line to people working on some of the most fascinating topics in particle physics.

In symmetry’s second installment of our #FollowFriday series, we present four more physicists you can follow on Twitter. These individuals offer insight into particle physics news, along with behind-the-scenes glimpses of their lives as researchers.

Tara Shears


Professor of Physics,
University of Liverpool

Tell us about yourself in 140 characters or less.

Particle Physicist, Liverpool. LHCb, Standard Model and CERN enthusiast.

What areas of physics most interest you?

It always comes back to the big questions about why things are the way they are; what simple laws lie beneath their behavior; why should the universe appear this way? It is fascinating and so compelling to think that we can describe so much with equations that contain so little. For this reason, astrophysics and particle physics interest me most.

Why do you use Twitter?

It started as an experiment. I was interested to learn how (and if) communication works in 140-character packets. It has forced me to become much more succinct! I like the instant accessibility, the democracy of Twitter. Anyone can ask anyone else anything.

I really like the way Twitter opens up access to news or an event unfolding, like a commentary. For example, during the Higgs announcement in 2012, Twitter was in overdrive, and if you looked carefully you could get insight quickly from physicists live-tweeting their way through it and translating some of the concepts and jargon (and adding gossip and comment). I also like the way you can take people with you on a virtual tour of the LHC or CERN when you visit it, by tweeting pictures and comments and answering questions. We don't recognize the strangeness of our surroundings sometimes and how fascinating it can be for people to see it, and us, in action. Twitter lets us open it up a little and demystify it.

What do you usually tweet about?

Usually particle physics and what's going on at the moment. Although I have an awful feeling there is probably a fair amount of enthusing about coffee and not enthusing about being delayed at airports.

John Preskill


Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics,
California Institute of Technology

Tell us about yourself in 140 characters or less.

Theoretical physicist, wishes he were better at playing baseball, singing and being funny. Will have a quantum computer before he dies.

What areas of physics most interest you?

My background is in theoretical particle physics and cosmology, subjects I still love, but my main interest now is quantum information, with a side interest in quantum condensed matter. I find quantum information exciting because it connects with so many areas of physics, math and computer science, and because of the vibrant connections between theory and experiment.

Why do you use Twitter?

I like Twitter because it often directs me to interesting articles that I would have missed otherwise. I follow a lot of political bloggers and columnists as well as scientists, though I don't tweet about politics. I also follow some comedians.

My tweets also appear on my Facebook page and sometimes draw interesting comments there, which I enjoy because it makes me feel more connected to my friends.

What do you usually tweet about?

I started using Twitter to call attention to posts on our group blog (quantumfrontiers.com) for the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter at Caltech. Now I like to tweet about highlights of conferences that I attend. And I often tweet links to interesting stuff I have read on the Internet, usually trying to add some color or perspective with an appropriate comment.

Kerstin Perez


NSF Postdoctoral Fellow,
Columbia University Astrophysics Laboratory

Tell us about yourself in 140 characters or less.

Building astroparticle searches for dark matter / Recovering CERN physicist / Mexican last name, Swedish first name, Philly loud and proud

What areas of physics most interest you?

The Standard Model of particle physics is the most precise and successful physical theory that humans have ever written down. Yet it describes less than 5 percent of the universe. What is the other 95 percent? In particular, what is the mysterious dark matter that is known to be five times more plentiful in the universe than the particles we currently study at the LHC? And how can our evolving understanding of particle physics guide our searches for this new matter?

Why do you use Twitter?

Twitter is a great way to learn from and speak with the people who care about the same things you do, without any of the barriers that typically keep us isolated. Have a question for that speaker that got mobbed after her presentation? Tweet at her. Interested in a blogger's point-of-view? Follow him. In my favorite cases, this leads to real-life interaction outside of just the Twitter stream.

What do you usually tweet about?

Diversity in physics and STEM. The intersection of particle physics and astrophysics. Beyoncé’s contributions to modern feminism (or feminism through the lens of pop culture). Hilarious things my students say.

Michael Krämer


Professor for Theoretical Physics,
RWTH Aachen University

Tell us about yourself in 140 characters or less.

I do research in particle physics theory. I’m interested in Higgs physics, supersymmetry and dark matter. Also, the philosophy of science.

What areas of physics most interest you?

Particle physics and astrophysics. Those are the two areas most closely related to my work.

Why do you use Twitter?

For two reasons: First, I learn quickly about important things in science. And secondly, I see it as an outreach activity. I guess that many of my followers are not scientists themselves, or at least not in my area of specialization, and through Twitter they can be in touch with science and follow current and topical discussions.

What do you usually tweet about?

Mostly particle physics, occasionally philosophy or science policy like funding.

Do you have suggestions for our next #FollowFriday? Follow us on Twitter @symmetrymag, and let us know which physicists you recommend.


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