Thursday 1st week – Dr Patricia Fara
Newton & Newtonianism
There is only one thing that everybody knows about Isaac Newton: that he watched an apple fall from a tree – or at least, he said that he did. As if he were a secular saint, his apple has become an iconic attribute, a symbol both of scientific breakthrough and of individual genius. By making gravity follow a simple mathematical relationship – the inverse square law – Newton emphasised that natural phenomena can, at least in principle, be explained quantitatively, a fundamental shift in approach that was crucial for the foundation of modern science. His importance may seem obvious now, but during the eighteenth century, his supporters had to persuade the world not only that he was right, but also that scientific knowledge was valuable. Newton’s reputation has continually altered over the centuries, reflecting shifts in how science and its practitioners are perceived – and today’s Newtonianism is very different from the God-driven cosmos that he envisaged.
Thursday 2nd week – Prof Harvey R. Brown
Confusions on the road to general relativity
Several key principles dominated Einstein’s thinking in the decade-long development of the general theory of relativity. These included the principle of equivalence, the principle of general covariance and Mach’s principle concerning the origin of inertia. These principles were not entirely independent in Einstein’s mind and none survived entirely intact once Einstein reached the promised land. About five years after discovering his field equations, Einstein argued that vindication of the principle of action-reaction was a key feature of his theory of gravity; this late development had much to do with the difficulties Einstein confronted in trying to implement Mach’s principle.
Thursday 3rd week – Prof Andre Lukas
Particle Physics from String Theory
I review the main structural features of particle physics – as encoded in the standard model – and explain why they are pointing to a more fundamental, underlying theory. String theory is a candidate for such a fundamental theory and I discuss some of its many remarkable properties. In particular, I outline how the main features of our low-energy world may emerge from string theory and which problems remain to be solved in this context.
Thursday 4th week – Ranga Yogeshwar
Next exit future – How innovation changes our society
Speaker profile: Ranga Yogeshwar is best known as the presenter of several successful science programmes on the German television. His long-running weekly magazine Quarks & Co is a vital part of the public-broadcasting television serving the purpose of knowledge transfer. Besides his work as science journalist, physicist and author, he also supports various charities in Germany as well as aid schemes in Asia. Yogeshwar has received multiple awards for his achievements in science, journalism and social commitments, amongst others the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Thursday 8th week – Science Party
Post-Prelim Party with other scientific societies at Plush
SCIENCE TAKEOVER AT PLUSH!
Free entry for all PhysSoc members (also Chem, Bio, Eng, Earth Sci, and Mat Socs), £3 on the door for everyone else.