Physics & social issues Radioactivity, global warming, energy, electromagnetic waves and health


Guillaume Blanc
Université Paris Cité, Université Paris Saclay, CNRS, Laboratoire de Physique des 2 Infinis Irène Joliot-Curie, IJCLab, 91405, Orsay, France
Camille Noûs
Laboratoire Cogitamus


Science is at the heart of many societal issues, including the many challenges posed by ecological crises. These issues involve mechanisms that physics can help explain. A university education in physics provides a standard background for criticizing results related to the discipline: orders of magnitude, adequacy between models and experiments, or experimental uncertainties. These tools are necessary for all scientists. However a citizen should also be able to interact with his fellow human beings in a rational way; namely to understand the debates of society and to participate in them with full knowledge of the facts.

This book is the result of a course given to third-year students in the physics degree program at Université Paris Cité. Its objective is twofold: to transmit a set of minimal knowledge in a few physical domains on themes that are frequently encountered in the media, in order to grasp the issues at stake, and to provide keys to build an informed opinion.

After explaining how scientific knowledge is developed, the manual provides elements of understanding on radioactivity, global warming, energy in society and greenhouse gas emissions, electromagnetic waves and health.


Social issues, Radioactivity, Global warming, Energy, Electromagnetic waves and health, Physics
Published on 12 April 2023



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Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Book identifiers

ISBN 978-2-7442-0208-7 (PDF)
ISBN 978-2-7442-0207-0 (Print)