March 4, 2014
Opinion editorial featured by APS News.
While physics is a science, it is also a set of tools and a state of mind. Physicists have repeatedly found intellectual and practical benefit in applying their methods to new subjects; astronomy, biology, and earth sciences are prominent examples. The study of cities is another such subject now ripe to be taken up by physicists.
Understanding cities is a pressing global problem. Currently about 80% of the US and about 50% of the world population reside in urban areas, growing at over one million people per week. A city is a complex mix of infrastructure, environment, and people that must provide safety, health, housing, mobility, water, food, energy, interactions, and more recently, connectivity for its citizens. We must build new cities wisely and refurbish existing cities while improving efficiency, quality of life, and resilience.