Michaelmas 2014

Thursday 2nd Week − Professor Agnieszka Zalewska

CERN: Highlights of research, technology and education

Agnieszka Zalewska is a Polish physicist, specializing in experimental particle physics. Her research has been on wide spectrum of subjects, in hadron physics, e+e- interactions, neutrino and dark matter physics as well as pioneering work on silicon vertex and tracking detectors with VLSI electronics at CERN. She has been responsible for several projects in particle physics in Poland and internationally. Since January 2013 she has been the President of CERN Council.


Thursday 3rd week – Halloween’s Eve Social

If you thought Halloween was super scary, wait until you see HALLOWEEN’S EVE! Relax with other physics enthusiasts and enjoy a round of drinks at our 3rd week social. We’ll be setting up shop in the Oscar Wilde Room at Magdalen College, (formerly the residence of, yes, THAT Oscar Wilde), from 8:15pm.

Free for members, £4 for non members


Thursday 4th week – Atomic Pizza Night

Looking to meet some new people over dinner? How about PhysSoc’s annual night at Atomic Pizza? This would also be a great opportunity to try one of Oxford’s more unique restaurants, if you haven’t yet.

Note that Atomic Pizza is a ways down Cowley Road (Google Map), so if you live in the city centre a bike may be helpful.

Date: Thursday 4th Week
Time: 20:30
Location: Atomic Pizza, Cowley Road


Thursday 5th Week Dr Jonathon Gair

Gravitational wave astronomy – ‘A new window on the universe’

The existence of gravitational waves — small fluctuations in gravitational fields that propagate at the speed of light — was shown to be an inevitable consequence of general relativity more than a century ago, but there have not yet been any direct detections of these waves by man-made detectors. This will all change spectacularly in the next decade. I will describe the current status of and prospects for current and planned gravitational wave detection experiments, I will discuss the likely sources of gravitational waves for these instruments and outline some of the potential scientific applications of these observations to astrophysics, cosmology and fundamental physics.

Thursday 7th Week Professor Stephen Blundell

Emergence in physics: Life, the Universe and the nature of reality

“The more the elementary particle physicists tell us about the nature of the fundamental laws, the less relevance they seem to have to the very real problems of the rest of sciences, much less to those of society.”  (P. W. Anderson).

Where does the disconnect come between the cold, hard laws of elementary particles and the richness and beauty of the world we see around us?  If we could obtain a theory of everything, would it be of any use?  An answer to these questions may lie in the phenomenon of “emergence”.  In this talk we will look at how laws “emerge” from complexity, how the term “emergence” is understood (and/or misunderstood) by physicists and by philosophers, and consider what implications this might have for our understanding of the nature of reality.  All perfect fodder for a Thursday evening of week 7.


Thursday 8th Week  Dr Oscar Dahlsten

The Uncertainty Principle from the Quantum Information perspective

The uncertainty principle remains one of the greatest conceptual mysteries of modern science. I will discuss what it is, what its consequences are, and whether we may ever have a theory without it. More specifically I will discuss the principle’s impact on how much data we can cram into a quantum system, on entanglement, non-locality, and on the entropy increase of the second law of thermodynamics. I will argue that the uncertainty principle actually has an emancipating effect in allowing quantum systems to evolve in non-classical ways in interferometers. I will then give some thoughts on whether we can hope to ever get a theory succeeding quantum theory without the uncertainty principle, including some simple toy theories in that direction.


We are proudly sponsored by Metaswitch Networks and Jane Street