Upon my arrival to Whitworth Hall, I felt nothing but awe whilst looking around and taking in the historic architecture. It was such a pleasure to be given the opportunity to visit and explore the University responsible for the discovery of the nucleus by Rutherford and the discovery the neutron by Chadwick, who both went onto to win the noble prize. Without these fundamental discoveries, the world of physics would be very different.
Once inside the main hall, I found myself engaged in the works of Dr Tom Whyntie, who studied particle physics at CERN. Although he confirmed we had completed our search for particles that are part of the Standard Model, he left me with the question “What’s next?” I then heard from Prof. Lucie Green who has dedicated her career to studying the star which we rely on to survive, the Sun. She talked through the cutting-edge technology we use to study the Sun including ultra-violet telescopes and the 2020 Solar Orbiter mission to launch a spacecraft 3/4 of the distance between the Earth and Sun, which will be subject to conditions in excess of 600°C.
After a short tea break, we heard from Prof. Jim Al-Khalili who gave a fascinating lecture on fate and whether we as humans have free will or are we playing out a series of events that have already been determined by the Universe. Through many models, including Einstein’s block Universe, he suggested that we in fact do live in a predetermined Universe but we will never be able to know what our future is. Following a lunch break, I then listened to the words of Dr Michael Brooks who spoke about gravity and the recent observation of gravitational waves.
To complete the day, a former student of AGGS, Dr Helen Czerski who is not only a physicist but also an oceanographer gave us an in-depth view into the vast mysterious expanse of water which occupies the majority of our planet. Her lecture varied from the effects of ocean waves to the suffering ecosystems subject to changes in water pH due to increased uptake of CO2.
As a whole, the lectures allowed me to not only look at our world but also the Universe we live in completely differently, by putting into context just how immensely massive our Universe is. Through studying Physics and attending the Science Live lectures I can see see how complicated and interwoven everything in the Universe is.
Sophia Powell year 12