Sixth Form Evening Lectures

How Physics and Maths Make a Difference in the World

Physics and Maths Matter! are a series of Thursday evening talks (5:30 -6:30 pm) for sixth-form students at Northumbria University. Each talk is focused around different topic and aims to show why physics and maths and where they can lead. We encourage Y11 onwards students with an interest in these areas to attend. Teachers, parents/carers are welcome to come along.

Week 1 – The Mathematics of Giant Oceanic Waves

5th October 2017

Dr Sara Lombardo – Department of Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering, Northumbria University

In this lecture  Dr Sara Lombardo will  focused on mathematical challenges coming from extreme environments and environmental hazards, in particular it explores the concepts of waves and extreme waves (also called rogue waves) and how they attracted recently the interest of scientists after being a piece of maritime folklore, a sailor’s legend, for centuries.

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Week 2 – Keeping the Lights On

12th October 2017

Dr Sara Walker – Newcastle University

How can the UK (and world) generate electricity in a cost effective and sustainable way? What has physics got to do with this?

In this talk, Dr Sara Walker will talk about electricity and renewables policy, and how she came to study these aspects following her physics degree.

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Week 3 – Cricket as life and death

19th October 2017

Dr Pete Philipson – Department of Mathematics, Physics and electrical Engineering, Northumbria University

In July 2015, ahead of the upcoming Ashes series against Australia, England’s Director of Cricket stated “it’s not about life and death, it’s a game of cricket”. Viewed through the prism of batting, however, cricket can be very much thought of as a battle for survival. Going out to bat, a batsman is ‘born’ and they then ‘live’ until they are dismissed and ‘die’.

In this talk will demonstrate that, following this analogy, run scoring can be analysed using techniques from survival analysis, thereby providing richer information than the standard one-number summary.

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Week 4 – You What? – Noise Management and bio acoustics

2nd November 2017

Dr Peter Glaves – Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences, Northumbria University 

We live in an increasingly noisy world. If you’ve ever had a sleepless night due to your noisy neighbours or busy traffic, you will understand how noise can impact on people. But what is ‘noise’? How can it be understood? And how can noise be managed?

Peter’s session will address some of the big questions in noise science and noise management:

  • How can understanding the characteristics of noise help us manage noise problems?
  • How can we predict noise impacts of new schemes such as roads?
  • How can bioacoustics be used to survey for difficult to find species such as bats and whales?
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Week 5 – The complex beauty of fractal geometry

9th November 2017

Dr Matteo Sommacal, Department of Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering, Northumbria University 

In this lecture, Dr Matteo Sommacal will explain, with the aid of some computer graphics, how Fractals – the shapes that come out of Fractal Geometry – can be defined as geometrical objects characterised by two properties: self-similarity, and non-integer dimension. Differently from the ‘smooth’ figures of classical Geometry, such as circles or triangles, Fractals turn out to be ‘rough’ and infinitely complex.

He will show many examples and images, illustrating how rich and surprisingly beautiful Fractals can be, as well as how intriguing and counter-intuitive Fractal Geometry is and what profound impact it has had in Science and Art.

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Week 6 – Body-surfing: wave dynamics in the human body

16th November 2017

Dr Benoit Huard, Department of Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering, Northumbria University

Physiology is a vast medical field which studies a wealth of mechanisms that make the body work healthily. From brain-to-toe travelling impulses to the breath-heart beat coordination and clocks regulating blood sugar levels and sleep, they all follow basic principles which can be modelled using geometry, algebra and calculus. By looking at different wave phenomena operating in the body, we will see how various mathematical bifurcations ensure the proper tuning of our daily anatomical functions.

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Week 7 – Radar investigations of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet

23rd November 2017

Dr Kate Winter, Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences, Northumbria University 

Glaciologists use ice penetrating radar to investigate the subsurface properties of ice sheets, ice caps and glaciers. Since the 1960’s airborne radio-echo sounding (RES) techniques have been used to determine ice sheet thickness and map the subglacial surface, identify subglacial lakes and volcanoes and record internal layers in glacier ice, which reflect past and present mass balance, form and flow. In this talk, Dr Kate Winter from Northumbria University will provide a brief overview of the uses and capabilities of radio-echo sounding, before focussing on how radar investigations have shaped our understanding of the current state and future stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. With reference to her recent visit to Antarctica, this talk promises lots of great photos and an insight into life in the polar regions, as well as the opportunity to appreciate the real-world application of physics in the coolest place on Earth.

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Week 8 – Physics of Soft and Biological Matter: sticky, squishy, bouncy

30th November 2017

Dr Rodrigo Lesdema Aguillar, Department of Mathematics Physics and Electrical Engineering, Northumbria University

Through natural selection, many animal and plant species have developed clever solutions to problems linked to survival in the natural world.

In this talk, we will explore how the physics of these strategies are inspiring clever technologies range from everyday materials to new energy harvesting devices for space exploration.

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How to find us

All talks will be held in Northumbria University’s Ellison Building, room EBA102A.

The best entrance to use is The Link on Northumberland Road. See our photo guide here.