Sixth form Physics ‘State of the Universe’ lectures were thoughtfully prepared and professionally delivered this year by the current 6.1 students. These included a carefully calculated account of the effects of all humans jumping at the same time at the same place on Earth; not too much as it happens according to Jim Kan and Callum Steele. They did go on to describe the catastrophic effects of collectively lasering the moon. Chris Bury gave an account of contemporary robotic capabilities and many of the moral dilemmas that these devices will inevitably present in the future. Would you be happy that your self drive car steers you into a tree rather than hit a pedestrian? The exciting prospects for nanotechnology from space elevators to buckyball medicine dispensers or ‘nanobombs’ were plain to see in Patrick Newlands and Kath Welch’s presentation. The elegance of supersymmetry was well reflected in Chloe Zhao’s amusing and well balanced talk which started with some inspiring pieces of visual art from Ryoji.
There followed a three stage launch into space through recent developments in Exoplanet discovery ably outlined by Sam MacGuffog and Izzy Soper. The challenges facing the development of space vehicles for commercial and scientific endeavours was described by Nico Bradley and Max Hannam, where different funding routes could drive the project such as Mars 1; the one way trip to colonise Mars but presented as reality show; Elon Musk’s Space X programme which suffered its first set back recently with an exploding rocket system and the need to have reusable vertical landing and recoverable rockets. Naveed Khalessi, Bella Anderson and Will Harvey pursued the idea of the relative merits of different propulsion systems and the practicalities of terraforming Mars or more distant planets.
Angel Fang gave a thorough account of the mechanism and uses of quantum cryptography in data security systems using the properties of quantum mechanics to elude would-be hackers. The lectures concluded with Ned Jones and Keir Dale tackling the knotty problem of superstring theory, tying the cosmological general relativity with the submicroscopic quantum world and wrapping it all in 11 dimensional space. The conclusion was that…it was hard to prove. All together the students put in considerable individual efforts to grasp the essence of their talks, delivered them brilliantly and gained much from each other and the experience.
Read the full lecture notes here
By Tobias Hardy, Head of Physics