The Royal Holloway Christmas Lecture 2019
  • Science
  • Senior
  • Sixth Form
  • STEM

On a cold December evening Mr Brittain, Miss Millar, Mr Johnson, and Mrs Camilleri (with her daughter Sophie) climbed aboard the minibus with some of LEH’S most passionate Physics students: Anastasia (UIVX), Lina (LVS), Mathumita (UIVX), Sunny (UIVX), Sanjana (LIVL), Isabella (UIVX), Zeta (UVQ), Catherine (UIVX), Alexandra (UVS), Ashna (LVS), and Josephine (LVS). 

We stood before the amazing Gothic Revival architecture at Royal Holloway, University of London, in Egham. Our translucent skin glowed under the full moon and the skeletal trees twinkled under strings of fairy light. We paused for a photo before entering the Windsor Auditorium for this year’s Christmas Lecture.

Festive music played, badges were distributed, and mince pies were stacked up alongside steaming coffee pots: the scene was set.  This year young researchers talked about their work at Royal Holloway.

Siobhan Alden explained how particle accelerators are used in a broad range of applications such as unlocking the secrets of the Universe.  In “Beam Me Up!”, she discussed how particle beams are shaped and how they can be measured using lasers.

Callum Booth then discussed, in “Rockin’ Around the LHC!” what happens when you take two beams of particles and smash them together at nearly the speed of light. We enjoyed exploring the workings of Giant Particle Detectors and learnt how the Higgs Boson’s is related to the heaviest known particle in our universe - the top quark.

According to Adam Tarrant, the development of new and novel neutrino detectors could help answer questions like: Where is all the antimatter gone? and What is dark matter? At Royal Holloway, high pressure time projection Chambers (HPTPC) are being constructed to try and answer these questions. 

Callum Booth then discussed, in “Rockin’ Around the LHC!” what happens when you take two beams of particles and smash them together at nearly the speed of light. We enjoyed exploring the workings of Giant Particle Detectors and learnt how the Higgs Boson’s is related to the heaviest known particle in our universe - the top quark.

According to Adam Tarrant, the development of new and novel neutrino detectors could help answer questions like: Where is all the antimatter gone? and What is dark matter? At Royal Holloway, high pressure time projection Chambers (HPTPC) are being constructed to try and answer these questions. 

Water was not the only interesting fluid discussed at this yuletide edutainment event.  “Superfluids: playing with spooky behaviours in the quantum world” was the title of the talk given by Sebastian Spence.  He explained that superfluids are materials that flow with zero viscosity. At very low temperatures superfluid helium expresses increasingly exotic behaviours, many of which are still not fully understood. If this exotic fluid is confined within nano-fabricated glass chips, we can reach a small enough size and low enough temperature to clearly observe quantum effects. At this scale the idea of individual particles of helium is meaningless, while vibrations in the fluid no longer behave as waves and begin to appear as particles.

Finally, Florence Robert discussed her fascinating Virtual Reality and Immersive Audio work. Virtual reality provides us with the wonderful opportunity to create experiences that, in the real world, could be inaccessible to many people. Although the current VR headsets were originally intended for gaming purposes, allowing the user to become immersed in fictional worlds, this technology has expanded into the research world, allowing for further exploration into virtual immersive experiences.

These talks were a lovely way to draw towards the end of the school year. Nothing could be better than festive Physics!

Mr Brittain - STEM Co-ordinator and Physics Teacher