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Working in the background: what is new at Physics Capsule?


Working in the background: what is new at Physics Capsule?

Here is what is new at Physics Capsule a month since its inception. How are we improving the magazine, and how can you participate with us and help us improve?

We have received better response than we expected during these early days of Physics Capsule. We have had thousands of readers, a few e-mails and generally positive feedback for our work so far.

Between when this magazine was launched and now, if you have been following us that long, you may have noticed some design changes and feature additions. These have been part of a longer plan on refining this magazine and it seems apt that we take a moment to go over what is new around here.

Physics Capsule does not have an office; like most modern start-ups and ventures, our offices are our homes, our computers and virtual connections. This is certainly a fun approach and no less efficient than a physical office location. Our journey so far has been brief but great and we intend to increase our slowing rate of publishing (about which we received an e-mail or two) over the coming weeks.

Equations and type

With LaTeX support provided thanks to the great work of Pavel Holoborodko and the team at QuickLaTeX, we have been able to use full scale equations with considerable ease on Physics Capsule. This also means your submissions can contain regular LaTeX equations with no problem.

As people of science, we harbour affinity towards Computer Modern, the typeface of choice for scientific papers. For this, and for its harmony with equations in LaTeX, we decided to switch from Open Sans to Computer Modern Serif. We hope your reading experience does not change, and we take our current positive feedback as an indication that almost all our readers are indeed comfortable with the new typeface.

Mathematics and chasing people away

You may remember we quoted Stephen Hawking on equations turning people off books in the first editorial. But physics, whether you like it or not, has a lot of mathematics in it. Since we do not want our Learn section to be a misrepresentation of physics, but we do not want people disinterested in mathematics to turn away, we have introduced a mathematical rigour indicator. (Access these with the new address:

You may observe the indicator at the head of any of our Learn articles. This is meant solely to help you determine whether you will be comfortable with the exploration you will begin with each new article. However, it is worth noting that we make sure each and every article makes sense to readers who make a conscious decision to skip following equations altogether. Equations can be a tool, equations can also be a barrier. At Physics Capsule, we do not want them to be barriers, so our articles

are structured to make best sense even if only their english text is read.

Advertising: test runs

Physics Capsule was started as (and still is) a not-for-profit venture, which means that we do have an income stream, but all of it is invested right back into the magazine. In general, our income may be from advertising and possible products in the future, but never from our content. Since our aim is to make physics accessible and more popular, it would go against that to charge for reading articles or limit articles with a paywall of any sort.

With that in mind, during July we ran several test runs of advertisements on the magazine, especially alongside articles, and monitored their performance. We were satisfied, but believe that the overall interactions (click-throughs, hovers, roll-overs etc.) will only improve as we go on. Over the next six months, we will only run alternate test models for advertisements to see the best placements in terms of design and performance.

You may or may not see these ads. If you do and do not like one (or any) please contact us and let us know so we can better judge the responses these advertisements are garnering.

A better reading experience

While we understand that a lot of our visitors save articles onto other services to read it at leisure, an equal number of you may choose to read these articles right here on Physics Capsule. To make your experience on this magazine seamless and memorable, we are introducing a section-based navigation at the end of every article that directs you to more articles in that section. This is especially useful in the Learn section where you may wish to follow other topics that either follow from or lead up to the one you are reading, much like a text book.

Apart from this, we have a simple fly-out that appears without distraction and points you to three articles that we think you will like to read next. Following these articles of your choice is designed with helping you wade through Physics Capsule soon-to-be massive article base with ease. This does not mean you will miss out other important things. Our popular articles are always displayed on your screen, so you can always start reading them whenever you like.

These are small changes, but represent big steps for Physics Capsule. We are always open to suggestions and the ones we received have helped immensely in making Physics Capsule evolve from a vision of two people to a reality and further still into a thing the community unanimously builds.

Cover image by Chris Meller.

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V.H. Belvadi is an Assistant Professor of Physics. He teaches postgraduate courses in advanced classical mechanics, astrophysics and general relativity. When he is free he makes photographs and short films, writes on his personal website, makes music, reads voraciously, or plays his violin. He currently serves as the Editor-in-Chief of Physics Capsule.

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