Brian Josephson, Physics Department, Cambridge University

(article included in a booklet accompanying the Royal Mail special stamps issued on October 2, 2001 to commemorate the centenary of the Nobel prizes)

Physicists attempt to reduce the complexity of nature to a single unifying theory, of which the most successful and universal, the quantum theory, has been associated with several Nobel prizes, for example those to Dirac and Heisenberg. Max Planck's original attempts a hundred years ago to explain the precise amount of energy radiated by hot bodies began a process of capturing in mathematical form a mysterious, elusive world containing 'spooky interactions at a distance', real enough however to lead to inventions such as the laser and transistor.

Quantum theory is now being fruitfully combined with theories of information and computation. These developments may lead to an explanation of processes still not understood within conventional science such as telepathy, an area where Britain is at the forefront of research.

The above was written in response to a request from Royal Mail in early 2001 for material they could use in conjunction with a special Nobel Centenary stamp issue, the second paragraph being a response to a suggestion that I speculate about what might happen in physics in the future. The closing sentence includes a projection based on a number of currently emerging ideas concerning the nature of quantum reality.