Week in Science: 07/05/17

From the butterfly effect to black holes, check out the best science talks around Oxford this week

Source: Wikimedia Commons

It’s not easy keeping up with all the events going around the University. With Week in Science, the Cherwell Science and Tech editors bring to your attention interesting talks around the city and university.

The Butterfly Effect – What Does it Really Signify?

 Presented by Oxford Mathematics Public Lectures.

Date and Time: 9th May, 17:00 – 18:15 pm.

Location: Lecture Theatre 1, Mathematical Institute, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, Woodstock Rd, OX2 6GG

Speaker: Tim Palmer

Description: Meteorologist Ed Lorenz was one of the founding fathers of chaos theory. In 1963 he showed with just three simple equations that the world around us could be both completely deterministic and yet practically unpredictable. In the 1990s, Lorenz’s work was popularised by science writer James Gleick who used the phrase “The Butterfly Effect” to describe Lorenz’s work. The notion that the flap of a butterfly’s wings could change the course of weather was an idea that Lorenz himself used. However, he used it to describe something much more radical – he didn’t know whether the Butterfly Effect was true or not.

Tim will discuss Lorenz the man and his work, and compare and contrast the meaning of the “Butterfly Effect” as most people understand it today, and as Lorenz himself intended it to mean.

Tim Palmer is Royal Society Research Professor in Climate Physics at the University of Oxford

Entry: Free – to book a place, email external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk

An evening “flight” over two modern topics in Mathematics Random Fractal Cruves and Rough Paths Theory

 Presented by Oxford Invariants Society.

Date and Time: 9th May, 20:00pm.

Location: Andrew Wiles Building

Speaker: Magarint Vlad

Description: The flight will leave from the – “terminal” – conformal mappings of domains of the complex plane – and will fly over the history of this development and prepare for landing at the first layover destination -the definition of SLE (Schramm-Loewner evolution).

After the first stop, the passengers will be asked to move to the “terminal”- Rough Paths Theory. We will ”fly” together across the development of a deterministic theory on Stochastic Differential Equations and prepare to land at the destination: the definition of Rough Paths and Rough Differential Equations.

The sky is announced to be crystal clear and we will be able to see during the twilight fractal rivers. Food on board: conformal pizza.

Entry: The event is free for members and £3 for non-members. Memberships is also available for £15, for life.

The Sound of Symmetry and the Symmetry of Sound

Presented by Oxford Mathematics Public Lectures.

Date and Time: 11th May, 17:00 – 18:15 pm.

Location: Lecture Theatre 1, Mathematical Institute, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, Woodstock Rd, OX2 6GG 

Speaker: Marcus du Sautoy

Description: Symmetry has played a critical role both for composers and in the creation of musical instruments. From Bach’s Goldberg Variations to Schoenberg’s Twelve-tone rows, composers have exploited symmetry to create variations on a theme. But symmetry is also embedded in the very way instruments make sound. The lecture will culminate in a reconstruction of nineteenth-century scientist Ernst Chladni’s exhibition that famously toured the courts of Europe to reveal extraordinary symmetrical shapes in the vibrations of a metal plate.

The lecture will be preceded by a demonstration of the Chladni plates with the audience encouraged to participate. Each of the 16 plates will have their own dials to explore the changing input and can accommodate 16 players at a time. Participants will be able to explore how these shapes might fit together into interesting tessellations of the plane. The ultimate idea is to create an aural dynamic version of the walls in the Alhambra.

Entry: Free – to book a place, email external-relations@maths.ox.ac.uk

String theory, black holes, and the quark-gluon plasma 

Presented by Oxford University Physics Society.

Date and Time
: 11th May, 20:15pm.

Location: Martin Wood Lecture Theatre, 20 Parks Rd, OX1 3PU.

Speaker: Andrei Starinets

Description: Nuclear matter created in heavy ion collisions at accelerators such as the LHC is known as the quark-gluon plasma. Despite being incredibly hot and dense, it shares a number of properties with quantum liquids, although it is not described by the standard Landau Fermi-liquid theory. Theoretical understanding of the quark-gluon plasma requires non-perturbative tools. One of them, known as gauge-string duality or holography, comes from string theory, and relates spectra of black hole excitations to transport properties of the models of the quark-gluon plasma.

Entry: £3 for non-members. Free for members (membership is £10, and for life)

Controlling and Exploring Quantum Matter Using Ultracold Atoms in Optical Lattices

Presented by Oxford Physics Department.

Date and Time: 12th May, 16:30 to 17:30pm.

Location: Martin Wood Complex, Department of Physics, Parks Road, OX1 3PU. 

Speaker: Dr Immanuel Bloch

Description:  More than 30 years ago, Richard Feynman outlined the visionary concept of a quantum simulator for carrying out complex physics calculations. Today, his dream has become a reality in laboratories around the world. In my talk I will focus on the remarkable opportunities offered by ultracold quantum gases trapped in optical lattices to address fundamental physics questions ranging from condensed matter physics over statistical physics to high energy physics with table-top experiment.

For example, I will show how it has now become possible to image and control quantum matter with single atom sensitivity and single site resolution, thereby allowing one to directly image individual quantum fluctuations of a many-body system or directly reveal antiferromagnetic order in the fermionic Hubbard model. I will also show, how recent experiments with cold gases in optical lattices have enabled to realise and probe artificial magnetic fields that lie at the heart of topological energy bands in a solid. Using a novel ‘Aharonov-Bohm’ type interferometer that acts within the momentum space, we are now able to fully determine experimentally the geometric structure of an energy band. Finally, I will discuss our recent experiments on novel many-body localised states of matter that challenge our understanding of the connection between statistical physics and quantum mechanics at a fundamental level.

Entry: Free – no registration required.

Think like an Amateur, Do as an Expert: Fun Research in Computer Vision and Robotics 

Presented by Kyoto Prize at Oxford.

Date and Time: 10th May, 14:30 to 15:45pm.

Location: Blavatnik School of Government

Speaker: Dr Takeo Kanade

Description: For Dr Kanade, good research derives from solving real-world problems and delivering useful results to society. As a roboticist, he participated in developing a wide range of computer-vision systems and autonomous robots, including human-face recognition, autonomously-driven cars, computer-assisted surgical robots, robot helicopters, biological live cell tracking through a microscope, and EyeVision, a system used for sports broadcast. Dr Kanade will share insights into his projects and discuss how his “Think like an amateur, do as an expert” maxim interacts with problems and people.

Dr Takeo Kanade is the 2016 Kyoto Prize Laureate for Advanced Technology.The Kyoto Prize is an international award to honour those who have contributed significantly to the scientific, cultural, and spiritual betterment of humankind. The Blavatnik School of Government is pleased to host the Kyoto Prize Laureates as part of the inaugural Kyoto Prize at Oxford events.

Entry: Free – to book a place, register here.


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