Mr Brittain and students at conference
  • Enrichment
  • Science
  • Sixth Form

On 8th November, the LVI attended the Physics in Action lecture day at one of central London’s most beautiful listed buildings, the Emmanuel Centre in Westminster.  We all filed into the completely circular main auditorium with 1000 other scientists. Natural light penetrated through the huge glass dome and arched windows to illuminate the polished oak and marble columns. The first speaker was the author and broadcaster Simon Singh MBE. His books include Fermat’s Last Theorem, The Code Book, The Big Bang, Trick or Treatment and most recently The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets. Simon told the fascinating story behind one of the greatest questions in the history of humanity – where did the universe come from? Is the universe eternal or was it created? Is the Big Bang the answer?  This was a hard act to follow, but Dr Ceri Brenner was up to the task.  Dr Brenner is a senior physicist developing innovative imaging and inspection technology for use in medical diagnosis, nuclear waste management and aerospace performance testing. She described her incredible work using the most powerful lasers in the world for cancer treatment and jet engine imaging. 

After a short break, the physicist turned biologist Dr Andrew Steel appeared on stage.  He is the winner of FameLab UK 2012, a blogger with the Guardian and The Conversation, and presenter of the Lab, Camera, Action! series on YouTube.  He took us on a tour of the cutting edge of superconductor physics, from super-fast, levitating trains to super-powerful magnets which allow us to see inside the body.  He splashed liquid nitrogen around the stage and demonstrated the peculiar effects supercoldness can have on materials. This was a tough act to follow, but the inspirational Dr Suzie Imber was up to the challenge. Currently a Planetary Scientist at the University of Leicester and a high altitude mountaineer, Suzie was also England U21 lacrosse player and an elite rower. She was also the winner of the recent BBC 2 series: ‘Astronauts: Do You Have What it Takes?’ during which twelve candidates were put through astronaut training with NASA astronaut Chris Hadfield. She endured challenges such as taking her own blood, speaking Russian while in a centrifuge at 5g and carrying out emergency procedures on the NASA undersea astronaut training facility, Aquarius.

Following this incredible talk, we took time to review the more mundane challenges of exams strategies before the floor was handed to the amazing Dr Mark Lewney.  Mark is the Rock Doctor, and a guitar physicist who was the first winner of the FameLab competition.  He blew our ears with his rock guitar and our minds with what the future might be like.  He took us through a history of the future and then on a journey into modern Quantum Physics and Chaos Theory. His finale was an audience sing-along to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody – reworded Physics style!  At this point the head bangers in the audience came into their own!  In summary, the day was entertaining, educational, and inspirational.  We all left with smiles on our faces and our brains humming with new thoughts – ready to tackle the big ideas presented by the study of Physics.

By Mr Brittain – Teacher of Physics

  • Enrichment
  • LEH Science
  • LEH Sixth Form
Mr Brittain and students at conference