The department traditionally holds a public lecture every Christmas and invites local schools to come along and learn from some of our leading academics about the science we do and the issues it affects.
Solar flares pose a serious threat to modern-day civilisation. Space weather forecasting helps us to limit the potentially catastrophic damage caused by such events. We need a way to measure the magnetic field of the Sun from a distance of 93 million miles. In this lecture we explore how we have learned about most of the Universe – by decoding the information in the radiation arriving at Earth.
Dr Alex Peach
December 13 + 14 2pm Online only
“Quantum Gravity: A Journey to the Event Horizon” will take us on a whirlwind tour of Gravity, Black Holes, and all things Quantum. We’ll fly through extra-dimensions with String theory, swim about in quantum foam with Loop Quantum gravity and peak into the unseen realm of Dark Matter.
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Professor Suzanne Fielding
December 14 + 15 2pm Online only
This lecture will explore the fascinating physics of soft materials that defy our everyday ideas of solid and liquid: from familiar household liquidsthat jam up when stirred too vigorously, to solids that yield and flow under large enough loads, and materials that bounce on short timescales ye flow on longer timescales.
Along the way we will encounter avalanches and mudslides; traffic jams and log jams; complicated turbulent flows; and biological tissues, swarming bacteria, shoals of fish and flocks of birds.
Professor Frank Krauss
How do we simulate the spread of epidemics in the population? 66 million people live in the UK. Informed by data, we constructed a model to simulate the spread of the disease in the population. We will discuss how we translated census and other data into virtual people and their behaviour. In our simulation, infected people transmit the virtual virus - SARS-CoV-2 - through social contacts which we model carefully. We will demonstrate how we create these contacts and the measures to control the spread of the virus.
Dr Chris Saunter
Ageing is one of the defining aspects of humanity as a species and as individuals. Despite the role of ageing in our lives, there is no detailed understanding of how the many different and complicated processes involved work together to age us. This will change one day, as the last 20 years has seen continuous growth in scientific research aimed at understanding and then slowing ageing.
We are building a “Healthspan Machine” in Durham. This studies the effects of compounds designed to increase lifespan and healthspan on the nematode worm C. elegans, where healthspan is the period of an animal’s life for which it remains healthy. This machine uses hundreds of Raspberry Pi computers and cameras to track the motion of tens of thousands of worms during their few weeks of life, providing researchers with high quality data measuring the effects of their work.
This talk will look at the scientific and ethical context of lifespan and healthspan extension, the role of C. elegans and our healthspan machine in studying aging, and how the explosive growth in computer power has contributed to building a healthspan machine.
Professor Charles S. Adams
December 17 + 18 2018
We know that light is made of photons, considered to be one of the fundamental constituents of the Universe. Being inherently quantal, photons inherit all the mystery of our quantum World, but oddly this quantumness remains remarkably elusive and controlling individual photons remains tricky. This lecture will demonstrate some of the mysterious properties of photons and consider what might be possible if we can control them.
Prof Tom McLiesh
The Subtle Science of Soft Slimy Stuff!
Dr Pete Edwards
Universe Missing! - The 2014 Durham Physics Xmas Lecture