Each year Physics World selects its top 10 breakthroughs of the year. A panel of editors (including me) sit down and sift through the year’s physics coverage, picking out our favourites.
The criteria includes that the research is of fundamental importance; makes a significant advance in knowledge; has a strong connection between theory and experiment; and is of general interest to all physicists.
This year, rather unsurprisingly, the award has gone to the international team of astronomers and astrophysicists that ushered in a new era of astronomy by making the first ever multimessenger observation involving gravitational waves.
Of course, the LIGO observatories in the US were instrumental in this work and it is the second time in a row they have been honoured by the Physics World breakthrough. (The three physicists behind LIGO – Kip Thorne, Barry Barish and Rainer Weiss – won this year’s Nobel Prize for Physics, but surely that is of secondary importance).
Other highly commended work in the top 10 include the first topological laser as well as the creation of “time crystals”.
Take a look at the top 10 here.