Institute of Physics lectures
The Institute of Physics lectures are held at the University of Surrey campus on Tuesday evenings and are accessible and understandable to all.
How to Heat Up Dark Matter
Tuesday 10 October
Prof Justin Read, University of Surrey.
Since its discovery by the Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky in the 1930's, dark matter has continued to capture the public imagination. It raises the velocity of stars and gas in galaxies, bends light around massive galaxy clusters and promotes the growth of structure in the Universe. In this talk, I will explain the key evidences for dark matter, and our latest theories for what it is. In particular, I will focus on new results from our group in Surrey that show that dark matter can be "heated up" and moved around at the centres of tiny "dwarf' galaxies. I show that this points to dark matter comprising a new particle of nature that remains to be found. I conclude with a discussion of the latest experiments that are trying to detect or create such a particle in the laboratory.
Fusion Update: Entering the Technology Delivery Phase
Tuesday 14 November
Dr Chantal Shand MInstP, Senior Radiometric Researcher, UKAEA.
The UK Government recently announced a £650 million budget for cutting-edge fusion R&D on top of the funds committed to the STEP Programme which aims to finalise the concept design for the prototype plant by March 2024. With this support and the unprecedented boom in the private sector, a cleaner, greener alternative to nuclear fusion, it is time to demonstrate fusion energy can deliver net energy and affordability for consumers. This talk will highlight key research currently underway and some of the great unanswered questions as we enter the technology delivery phase of fusion energy.
Tuesday 11 February
Dr Chris North, Cardiff University.
In 2015 the twin LIGO detectors picked up the first definitive signature of gravitational waves - ripples in the fabric of space predicted a century previously by Albert Einstein. In the subsequent years, LIGO and its European counterpart, Virgo, have confirmed the detection of around a dozen such signals. Each originates from the merger of some of nature's most extreme objects - black holes and neutron stars. The measured effect on Earth, however, is absolutely tiny, and requires a precision that seems to be beyond our imaginations - and which led Einstein to think his prediction would never be tested. Since 2015, the era of gravitational wave astronomy has truly begun, and teams from all over the world are poring over the data from some of the most sophisticated experiments on Earth. In this talk, three years to the day since we were able to announce that first discovery to the world, I'll describe what gravitational waves are, how we detect them, and what we're learning from the discoveries to date. Find out what the future holds for astronomy's youngest observational field.
Quantum mechanics: A deep dive into weirdness
Tuesday 10 March
Sapphire Lally, University of Surrey.
Quantum mechanics drives the most important processes in the universe, from the tiny scales of atom formation to the burning of the giant stars that light the night sky. We have harnessed its power to develop clocks that never run slow, lasers to rival science fiction weapons, and ultra-efficient electronics. But it is a well-kept secret that physicists have no idea what's going on behind the curtain of the quantum world. Why is quantum physics different to the world we're used to? What is going on when we aren't looking at a quantum system? In this lecture, I'll present some of our best and weirdest answers to those questions - including universes that touch each other, systems that move backwards and forwards in time, and the possibility that you are the most important person in the universe.
The Universe in a bottle
Tuesday 10 March
Matthew Orkney, University of Surrey.
The Universe is as enormous as it is mysterious. This talk will showcase some of the methods and techniques used to build cosmological simulations, models which attempt to follow the evolution of the Universe through time and shed light on the physics behind it all. With just a few key cosmic ingredients and expert scientific craftsmanship, modern computers can create a toy model of our Universe that can be tweaked and examined without limitations - a Universe in a bottle.
Stranger Worlds: The Sci-Fact in the Sci-Fi
Tuesday 8 October
Brendan Owens Royal Observatory Greenwich.
Is time travel really possible? Are there aliens? Could we travel between the stars in a lifetime? These are all questions that authors, filmmakers and more have used as inspiration to fuel new creative ideas that have intrigued and excited audiences over the years.
Some of those inspired include scientists who are really exploring those big questions through science, and sometimes they in turn pass on their science knowledge to artists to inspire them. So what are the answers to these questions and how well do filmmakers in particular display the science fact in the science fiction? Astronomer Brendan Owens will help you find out in this tongue-in-cheek talk exploring the do’s and don’ts of science fiction while also exploring how sometimes the strangest science fiction is closer to reality than you might think…
Pushing the whale - A new story about watching paint dry
Tuesday 12 November
Malin Schulz, University of Surrey
"In modern day life paint is often applied in multiple layers and typically they have to be deposited individually. Time consuming, expensive and honestly who wants to watch paint dry that much... . So what if we could do it all in one go? We'll look into recent research and explore how a phenomenon called diffusiophoresis can help us in developing new types of paint and coatings.
About the diet of galaxies
Tuesday 12 November
Pol Massana Zapata, University of Surrey
Galaxies are gigantic complex structures and understanding how they are formed and evolve is a difficult matter. But one thing we do know, they feed from each other. Under the current paradigm of galaxy evolution, big galaxies have grown by assimilating smaller galaxies. These kind of events usually produce the most astonishingly beautiful images that can be taken with telescopes. But what is really happening when two galaxies collide? Is there really any violence involved at all? Should we be worried that our galaxy will be eaten as well? In these talk we will answer all these questions and learn about the latest developments in our understanding of galaxies.
The dark energy survey
Prof Kathy Romer, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Sussex to explain how almost 70 per cent of the universe is an exotic form called dark energy. Find out more about the dark energy event.
CSI universe: Space and spectra
9 October 2018
Dr Radmila Topalovic, Programme Leader for Science and Engineering at Kaplan International College to talk about CSI in space.
Please download our CSI Universe: Space and Spectra poster (PDF) to advertise our event at your institution.
Particle accelerators - A gift from nuclear physics or what have particle accelerators ever done for us?
13 November 2018
Prof Bill Gelletly and Dr Annika Lohstroh from the Physics Department at the University of Surrey to talk about particle accelerators.
Please download our accelerators poster (PDF) to advertise our event at your institution.
Last day of the dinosaurs
11 December 2018
Prof Phil Manning, Professor of Natural History at the University of Manchester to talk about how he uses physics to understand what happened to the dinosaurs.
Please download the last day of the dinosaurs poster (PDF) to advertise our event at your institution.
Zombie degenerate stars - what can we learn from the stellar graveyard?
12 February 2018
Dr Arnau Rios Huguet, Senior Lecturer in Theoretical Nuclear Physics at the University of Surrey to talk about how he uses stellar graveyards to study nuclear physics.