The “Who Cares?” Project
Many physicists and physics students perceive the world of abstract, elegant physics as separate of societal problems such as climate change, and thus reject all responsibility. We want to demonstrate how physics and the skills acquired during one’s studies play a role in the sustainable development of society.
To this end, we seek out former physics students who are pushing for sustainability. The format of our project consists of creating short video statements for social media, in which the alumni provide insight into their engagement and how their physics studies have proven to be helpful, as well as more in-depth material, such as interviews.
By sharing these stories, we want to present other physicists and physics students concrete and intrinsically interesting possibilities to use their skills and passion to overcome the climate crisis. We aim especially at reaching colleagues who are not principally interested in fighting climate change, but are intrigued by the physical aspects. For the future, we plan to expand the project to other scientific disciplines.
Petia Arabadjieva studies Quantum Engineering at ETH Zurich. She is highly interested in the use of quantum algorithms to perform tasks which are practically impossible using classical computers – and how this could help us to develop sustainable technologies. Petia is also a member of the Student Sustainability Commission and the Sustainability Committee of the physics department at ETH.
Jan Zibell studied physics at ETH Zurich and is pursuing a PhD in atmospheric science. During his studies, he repeatedly asked himself how he could use his degree to contribute to tackling climate change and now wants to provide answers to students in a similar situation. Jan has worked on promoting sustainability courses in the physics curriculum and enjoyed his teaching assistance in the course “Energy and Environment in the 21st Century”.
Regina Moser is supporting the student initiative as communication manager of the physics department at ETH. First ideas were formed in dialogue with Anna Knörr within the framework of the CO2 working group at the department of physics lead by Prof. Niklas Beisert. These were further developed during the next semesters.
Special thanks go to ETH Multimedia Services, especially Thomas Häusermann, for technical support and equipment for video shooting, Omar Zeroual for video shooting and editing tips, Fabio Merino for designing the Intro, and the students Anna Knörr, Maria Radisch, Till Muser, and Luna Bloin-Wibe for numerous contributions during the publication process.