Physics Conference: Imperial College

London F33

On the 21st of November, the physics department attended a series of talks at Imperial College. The two talks I found most interesting were Quantum Computing by Nicholas Harrigan, and The Big Bang by Simon Singh. In Quantum Computing, Nicholas Harrigan presented how quantum computing could revolutionize technology through the use of quantum-mechanical phenomena, via quantum superposition and quantum entanglement. Quantum computing is different from the computing we know today as it uses "Quantum Bits" or "Qubits", instead of the more usual bits, which originate from binary, a machine-readable language. Qubits are special as they can exist in superpositions of two states at once.  Qubits can do calculations as a 1 and a 0 at the same time, but normal bits can just be a 1 or a 0, meaning quantum computers can solve some types of problem much faster than normal, or classical computers.  

In The Big Bang, Simon Singh talked about the original concept of the Big Bang, and how it was proposed by Georges Lemaître in 1927. The talk went into great depth about how his theory was met with skepticism from other scientists, as at the time there was no evidence to support his claims. It wasn't until Albert Einstein encouraged Lemaître to look into the theory of universal expansion; whereafter fellow scientists became less dismissive of Lemaîtres' theory. Shortly before Georges Lemaîtres' death in 1966, radio astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson accidentally discovered Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, which is the leftover primordial radiation from the Big Bang which is now in the stage of Microwaves, due to the expansion of the universe, stretching the wavelength of the radiation from the initial big bang, over the past 13.7 Billion years. I found these two talks very fascinating as they are discoveries which are many times more massive than our own existence, and yet we still succeed to understand and learn from them.

Matthew Arnold

In addition to the talks on Quantum Computing and the Big-Bang, Jen Gupta gave a very interesting talk on her research as an Astrophysicist, and how she uses many different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum to understand stars and galaxies.  For people interested in engineering and motorsport we were shown how something that could be as bad for the environment as motor racing is leading to huge and important developments in the efficiency of electric cars, and how Formula E racing is becoming a very exciting new race series.

The most exciting part of the day was the talk given by Dr. Mark Lewney, the Rock Doctor, who used his electric guitar and comedy to explain a huge range of complicated physics ideas in about 45 minutes.  A bullwhip, an Ibanez Guitar and a large Marshall Amplifier are not usually seen in the Great Hall of Imperial College, but they definitely kept the audience interested.  His finale, and the finale of a great day out was a jam-along version of a physics themed Bohemian Rhapsody, definitely worth a watch on Youtube!

Rob Stanley