Hilary 2015

Abstracts and information will go up closer to the events.

Thursday 2nd week – PuzzleDrive

In teams of up to three, compete in entertaining physics questions for a £200 prize. Be on the lookout for teammates, but you can turn up alone too. Only your best categories score points, so non-physicists will enjoy the lighter trivia.


Thursday 3rd week – Dr Alexy Karenowska

A peculiar species of attraction: spin waves, sorcery, and the science of the unseeable.

Spin waves are microwave-frequency magnetic excitations which can propagate in certain magnetically ordered solids. Experiments with spin-wave systems not only give us insight into the nuts and bolts of magnetic physics, but potentially open doors to new classical and quantum information technologies.
In 2016, experimental spin-wave dynamics will celebrate its seventieth birthday. Though seven decades is not an insignificant period of time, it is nonetheless a very short one in comparison with the age of the general field of magnetism — among the oldest identifiable branches of natural philosophy. This talk will introduce the state-of-the-art in spin-wave physics against the background of a sideways look at the seminal role played by the phenomenon of magnetism in shaping our fundamental understanding of what science is.


Thursday 4th week – Professor Basil Hiley

Where does Schrödinger equation come from? The need for a non-commutative geometry.

“Nowhere”  explains Feynman, but unhelpfully adds, “from Schrödinger’s brain”.  Even Schrödinger admitted that a step in the ‘deduction’ of his equation was ‘not unambiguous’! An interesting use of the double negative.  Nevertheless the equation and its wave function is remarkably successful at the level of the non-relativistic spinless particle.  However it comes at a cost as it seems so different from the traditional approach, abandoning the notion of a physical material process evolving in a geometric background.  As a result it produces a plethora of different interpretations, some sublime, others, quite frankly, bizarre.  I want to re-examine the background from which the Schrödinger picture emerges, a background which was effectively abandoned because, in the twenties, the mathematics of a non-commutative geometry was too novel and its physical meaning very unclear.  Since that time, there has been considerable progress in understanding these mathematical structures and I will present an overview of these new advances, showing that the present approach is a fragment of a deeper structure which, when developed, allows new insights into the nature of quantum phenomena and, indeed, reality.  Although these advances depend heavily on the mathematics, I will try to convey the intuitions lying behind these ideas.


Thursday 5th week – Dr John Wheater

What is quantum gravity?

Well, nobody knows for sure after well over half a century of effort. I will explain why we need to know and some of the history. Then I will describe in an non-technical way some of the features it should have and explain qualitatively one way of thinking
about it which does not require tensors and other apparatus of higher mathematics.


Thursday 6th week – Flash Talks

Thursday 7th week – PhysSoc Elections


Thursday 8th week – Professor Graham Ross

Have we found the origin of mass?

 The discovery of the Higgs boson after nearly 50 years may, at last, provide the missing ingredient of the Standard Model, the theory of the strong, weak and electromagnetic interactions. I will review the latest evidence for this coming from the Large Hadron Collider and discuss whether the Higgs does finally provide an answer to the question “What is the origin of mass?”.





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