News and events
Sir Nevill Mott Lecture series
In 1995 Sir Nevill Mott visited the Department of Physics and presented a lecture entitled "65 Years in Physics". The lecture was a great success, and Sir Nevill kindly permitted his name to be associated with an annual lecture series to be given by distinguished invited speakers.
2015 Professor Sir Sir David Wallace:
High Performance Computing
Wednesday 11th March 2015, 5.15pm – 6.15pm Lecture Room W004
The technology of High Performance Computing (HPC) is crucially underpinned by physics and mathematics. In turn HPC is a vital tool for research across the sciences, and for innovation. At the heart of modern HPC is our ability to exploit massively parallel systems, which can consume MWatts of power and deliver billions of calculations per watt. This talk will review the evolution of HPC systems and give examples of the remarkable applications in science which they now support.
link to movie 1: illustating biomolecular simulation using HPC systems (see PNAS 108,18684-18689 (2011) for details)
link to movie 2: NVIDIA GPU vs CPU simulation
2014 Professor Sir John Pendry:
Metamaterials and the Science of Invisibility
Wednesday 19th March 2014, 5.15pm – 6.15pm Lecture Room W001
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.
2013: Professor Laurence Eaves:
Strong magnetic and electric fields for manipulating quantum states and gravity
Despite its small mass, an electron carries a large electric charge. This unique property allows the physicist to manipulate the motion of electrons by applying a magnetic or electric field. This talk will describe how we can use high magnetic fields to levitate solid matter against the force of gravity, thus allowing us to study the dynamics of rapidly-spinning water droplets (relevant to the physics of black holes!) and the way in which conditions of zero effective gravity modify the behaviour of living organisms. We will also examine how we can use high fields to image and manipulate the quantum states of bound electrons in semiconductor materials and devices.
To view the lecture click here.
2012: Sir John Houghton:
Are human activities causing climate change and how damaging will the impacts be?
From the burning of fossil fuels, coal, oil and gas, over 30 billion tonnes a year of carbon dioxide are emitted into the atmosphere. This is increasing the 'greenhouse effect' a scientific principle known forover 200 years, resulting in increased average temperature at the earth's surface. Intense scientific study of all parts of the climate system over the past 30 years has provided strong evidence of a resulting rate of change of climate greater than for many thousands of years bringing serious impacts on human communities and ecosystems. Many co-benefits will accrue from actions taken to reverse the current trends. The need for urgency is inescapable.
- Slides from the presentation
- Are human activities causing climate change and how damaging will the impacts be?
2011: Professor Victor Petrashov:
Metal: Box of Surprises
The general properties of metals are well known, but at the nanoscale they show spectacular new phenomena that provide many opportunities for the exploration of fundamental physics and for potential practical applications. These properties are rooted in quantum mechanics, providing insights and new physics fitting to the lifework of Sir Nevill Mott.
2010 Professor Brian Josephson:
Which way for Physics?
Professor Brian Josephson FRS, Emeritus Professor at Cambridge, spoke this year to a large audience. He had received the Nobel Prize in 1973 for the prediction (made while a research student) of supercurrent tunnelling through a barrier (the eponymous Josephson effect). His interests subsequently took a radically different turn, and he directs the Mind Matter Unification Project. His talk, "Which Way for Physics?", stressed the issues related to reductionism of the modern science such as incompatibility of Einsten Theory of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. He has cited the original Phil Andersen’s paper: “More is different” and in this connection noted the importance of emergent phenomena in a broader range of many-body systems including social, information and conceptual networks. He told us that in general these systems, and especially conceptual networks where nodes migrate, decompose and evolve, must be treated as Complex Systems, where the cooperation between units creates a new quality and leads to a formation of new phenomena such as life. He proposed a hypothesis that life is some ultrastable phenomenon that originated as emergent property of some network evolution, where both nodes and coupling between them are changing, and resulted in a new quality. He has put many parallels to this idea illustrating it with the known examples of the network evolutions. In particular, he gave good examples of the jumpy evolution of language networks.
2009 Professor Sir Roger Penrose:
Gravity and the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics
In a wide-ranging and thought-provoking tour through some of the deepest puzzles in physics, he presented his ideas on the measurement problem in quantum mechanics and how it may be resolved through the action of matter on space-time, on the second law of thermodynamics and its relation to cosmological artrow of time, on information and black holes and other such matters.