Physics in Action Conference 2019
  • Science
  • Sixth Form
  • STEM

On 12th November the LVI Physicists together with Mr Brittain and Miss Millar returned to the Emmanuel Centre in central London for the annual Physics in Action Lecture day.

We were joined in the beautiful sunny auditorium by a very select group of (one thousand) other students to see a series of inspirational lectures with a Physics related theme.

We first explored the invisible universe with Dr Jen Gupta of the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation at Portsmouth University. Dr Gupta looked at the universe in different wavelengths across the electromagnetic spectrum, and explored some of the unsolved mysteries facing astrophysicists and cosmologists today.  She revealed the heat signature of the whole audience with an infrared camera and discussed the very latest developments in gravitational waves.

Dr Ozak-Obazi Oluwaseyi Esu of The Centre for Smart Homes and Buildings told us how physics is employed to manipulate the indoor and outdoor environment of buildings to influence their performance. Dr Esu introduced us to the basics of building physics and the application of smart electronics and technology to improve operational efficiencies.  This is an area of employment that is growing in response to climate change, and reveals a new direction for Physics in the 21st century.

Following consideration of our environment, Professor of Acoustic Engineering Trevor Cox, of Salford University, told us something about ourselves.  He explained how our voices work and how has they been changed by technology.  He highlighted examples from opera to hip-hop, and explained how physics, psychology and neuroscience can help explain diverse singing styles.  As with Dr Esu’s talk, we were encouraged to consider very familiar experiences anew.

Lewis Matheson, an ex-Physics teacher and the Director of GCSE and A Level Physics Online Ltd. gave an engaging talk on the practicalities of learning Physics and preparing for exams.   He is rapidly becoming an internet celebrity that many of students recognise. Mr Matheson brought a unique style and charisma to his presentation that kept his audience engaged with what might be considered more mundane and functional information.  We are delighted that Lewis has agreed to come and talk at LEH sometime in the near future.

With a SI*, (rather than a sigh!), Dr Michael de Podesta took to the stage as our penultimate act. Dr de Podesta is a Principal research scientist at the National Physical Laboratory who wanted to share his interest in all aspects of measurement. It was unsurprising to us that Dr de Podesta has received an MBE for Services to Science.  He gave a very humorous and inspiring talk on physical units that transformed the decisions made by scientists on dimensional choices into a highly personalised narrative.

The final speaker was Professor Andrea Sella, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry at University College London.  He spoke about the amazing physical properties of the water molecule.  It was refreshing, and quite emotional, to stand back and look at how our very existence depends on the remarkable behaviour of water. One might say….no one in the house had dry ice!**

Mr Brittain - STEM Co-ordinator and Physics Teacher

*SI stands for Système International, which is the system of units used by scientists all over the world. [This joke is hysterical….believe me!]

** Please refer to the above comment.