Michaelmas 2010

When? Where?

Talks are held at 8:15pm on Thursday evenings (unless otherwise stated) in the Lindemann Lecture Theatre of the Clarendon Laboratory

Cost: Free for members, £2 for non-members
Life Membership £8

What’s on this term?

Thursday 1st Week – Joao Magueijo
“Stranger than his particle”

Neutrinos are weird particles, but even more so should they be “Majorana”. So-called Majorana neutrinos are condemned to “travel the flow of time in both directions”. I’ll describe the oddities of this unusual particle in close parallel with those of its discoverer: the Sicilian physicist Ettore Majorana. “The Grand Inquisitor”, as his nickname went, was never a simple person and created an aura of conflict with Enrico Fermi and the other luminaries of the quantum epoch. But this fascinating character was perhaps at his most outrageous in his final act: when he disappeared from the face of the Earth in 1938.


Wednesday 2nd Week – Harvey Brown
“What is motion?”

Sometimes the simplest things in physics are the most subtle. This talk is about Newton’s first law of motion, which has been called a logician’s nightmare. The role of inertia in classical mechanics is compared to that in quantum mechanics and in general relativity.

Friday 2nd Week – Social
The first Physics Society social of term will be held at Worcester College in the Sainsbury Common Room from 7pm-10ish. Unlimited free drinks (while stocks last), plenty of nibbles, and lots of Physicists, Engineers, Mathematicians and others who share an interest in all things Physics. Come along and chat about life, the universe and everything with a drink one hand and some jaffa cakes in the other – all Physicists love jaffa cakes and that is a scientific FACT!

Free for those who have joined this term.
£2 for members
£4 for non-members
£8 to become a member on the door, including free entry.

Just turn up at Worcester College Lodge and we’ll point the way


Monday 3rd Week – Social – 7:30pm Angels
Little Clarendon Street

Why not sandwich your weekend with some sciency banter!? Come to the Science Societies’ Social where we are teaming up with ChemSoc and taking over Angels.

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Happy hour all night!
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And if you joined this term or join on the door we’ll buy you your first drink!

Thursday 3rd Week – John Pendry
“Invisible Cloaks and a Perfect Lens”

Electromagnetism encompasses much of modern technology. Its influence rests on our ability to deploy materials that can control the component electric and magnetic fields. A new class of materials has created some extraordinary possibilities such as a negative refractive index, and lenses whose resolution is limited only by the precision with which we can manufacture them. Cloaks have been designed and built that hide objects within them, but remain completely invisible to external observers. The new materials, named metamaterials, have properties determined as much by their internal physical structure as by their chemical composition and the radical new properties to which they give access promise to transform our ability to control much of the electromagnetic spectrum.


Thursday 4th Week – Jay Lakhani
“Science and Sprituality”

Science and Spirituality are often considered as conflicting forces, with little tolerance of each other. However, there are those who can demonstrate that these two sides complement each other in unusual ways. Jay Lakhani is Head of the Hindu Academy and Education Director for the Hindu Council UK. He also completed a Masters in Quantum Mechanics supervised by Sir Roger Penrose. As a Theoretical Physicist, he explores the findings of modern Physics and its unceasing relations to the spirituality of Hinduism.

See this YouTube clip for more a similar talk.

Friday 4th Week – General Meeting
7pm at The King’s Arms


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The first round of drinks is on us
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On the agenda is the following:
* Constitutional Change
* Trebuchet Building Inception

Constitutional Change
Our constitution requires update to be in accordance with University regulations. We shall vote to add in clauses that will bring us in line with these.

Trebuchet Building Inception
On Saturday of 5th week we will be holding a trebuchet building competition against the Engineering Society. The format and rules of this event are to be discussed in addition to feasibility and safety.


Thursday 5th Week – Steve Bramwell
“Magnetricity: Magnetic monopoles in condensed matter systems”

Magnetic monopoles are the magnetic equivalent to electric charges. Whereas most of the particles in nature are electrically charged, none have been discovered that contain raw magnetic charge. The theory of electromagnetism does not exclude magnetic monopoles but rather expects them, however having not observed any though, div B is always set to zero. Paul Dirac proved that should a single magnetic monopole exist anywhere in the universe, it would be responsible for the quantizing of electric charge. But where particle physics has been reluctant to shed any light on these objects, condensed matter steps in. Spin Ice is a special material co-discovered by Prof. Bramwell in 1997 which isolated monopoles can exist within. Since then he has been working on measuring the properties of the monopoles within this material such as their magnetic charge and current density, in order to set about describing the phenomenon of “Magnetricity”.

Saturday 5th Week – Trebuchet Building vs. EngSoc – Design Phase. 2-4pm Lindemann Lecture Theatre
The first stage of the trebuchet competition against the Engineers

We the Physics Society have challenged our arch-rivals the Engineering Society to a Trebuchet Duel. Each society shall construct a device capable of hurling a volley of water balloons at the other. The battle will take place in early Trinity Term but there is much preparation to be done beforehand. On Saturday the competition shall be introduced and the design phase started. The format of the event will be as follows:

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14:00 – Registration.
14:15 – Introductory lecture to explain the format and rules.
14:45 – Attendees split into design teams to work on a device.
16:00 – Close.
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Be warned the engineers are no easy foe. They will squeeze as much efficiency as they can out of their creation and may produce a device that can fire further than ours. However they are let down by their non-existent maths skills. As such our device shall be far more accurate and precise. This gives us the edge as it is much more important to have a device that always hits than one that fires further and misses.


Thursday 6th Week – Henrik Jeldtoft Jenson
“Mathematics, complexity, art and music: wonderful connections”

Not so long ago the world of learning didn’t distinguish too much between arts and science. Everyone knows that da Vinci was a great painter and a fantastic scientist. Even as late as in 1960 Niels Bohr wrote a paper with the title “The unity of human comprehension”. Nevertheless, for a while we have seen increasing specialisation and a split between the different disciplines of knowledge. I’ll discuss why it is natural for the new field of Complexity Science to try to contribute to the reversal of this development. I’ll discuss relations between painting and mathematics and how approaches inherent to complexity science suggest ways to quantitatively analyse the creative element in music performances.


Thursday 7th Week – Michael Brooks
“13 Things that don’t make sense

Michael Brooks, physics consultant to New Scientist magazine

Should we pay attention to scientific anomalies? Some of the most intriguing scientific results in history have led to our most significant breakthroughs. There are plenty of mysteries in need of solution today: the nature of the tiniest subatomic particles, anomalous “nuclear” reactions and the accelerating expansion of the universe, for instance. Could these lead to the scientific revolutions of tomorrow?


Wednesday 8th Week – Christmas Social
The annual Physics Society Christmas social will be held at Worcester College in the Sainsbury Common Room from 7pm-10ish. Unlimited free drinks (while stocks last), plenty of nibbles, and lots of Physicists, Engineers, Mathematicians and others who share an interest in all things Physics. Come along and chat about life, the universe and everything with a drink one hand and some jaffa cakes in the other – all Physicists love jaffa cakes and that is a scientific FACT!

Free for those who have joined this term.
£3 for members
£5 for non-members
£8 to become a member on the door, including free entry.

Just turn up at Worcester College Lodge and we’ll point the way

Thursday 8th Week – Ofer Lahav
“Light and Darkness in the Accelerating Universe”

It seems we live in a bizarre Universe. One of the greatest mysteries in the whole of science is the prospect that 75% of the Universe is made from a mysterious substance known as ‘Dark Energy’, which causes an acceleration of the cosmic expansion. Since a further 21% of the Universe is made from invisible ‘Cold Dark Matter’ that can only be detected through its gravitational effects, the ordinary atomic matter making up the rest is apparently only 4% of the total cosmic budget. These discoveries require a shift in our perception as great as that made after Copernicus’s revelation that the Earth moves around the Sun. The lecture will start by reviewing the chequered history of Dark Energy, not only since Einstein’s proposal for a similar entity 1917, but tracing the concept back to Newton’s ideas. The lecture will summarize the current evidence for Dark Energy and future surveys in which UK astronomers are heavily involved: the “Dark Energy Survey”, the Hubble Space Telescope and the proposed Euclid space mission.


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