Quantum Physics - A Beginner's Guide

Prof Bob Cywinski / Association of Science Education Yorkshire Branch logo

Thu, 16 May 2013 15:50:00 BST

The School of Applied Sciences and the Association of Science Education (ASE) are hosting The ASE Summer President’s Lecture which will be given by Professor Bob Cywinski on Wednesday 12th June 2013.  The lecture, entitled “Quantum Physics: A Beginner’s Guide” celebrates the centenary of Bohr’s quantum atom and will be aimed at both students and teachers of science and the general public.

Professor Cywinski joined the University as a Research Professor before becoming Dean of Applied Sciences, and more recently joined the Vice-Chancellor’s Office as Special Advisor (Research).  He is currently the President of the Yorkshire Branch of the ASE. 

The evening will include a screening of “The Quantum Cowboy”, a movie in which Professor Cywinski stars as the Pocket Professor, guiding pupils through the world of physics.  There will also be a panel discussion on the teaching of quantum physics in schools with Professor Robin Millar (University of York), Riona Gifford, (Thornhill Community Academy), Alastair Gittner (Stocksbridge High School), Adam Little (St John Fisher Catholic High School) and Michael Inglis (Leeds University).

The Lecture is free and open to all.  It begins at 6.30pm in the Canalside West Lecture Theatre, with refreshments served from 6.00pm.  For further information, please contact Janet Goodridge.


The full abstract for Professor Cywinski’s lecture is as follows:

The quantum world is a strange and marvellous place in which matter and light can behave simultaneously as particles and waves and be in many places at the same time, in which probability and uncertainty replace determinism, and in which energy can only be delivered in discrete packets or quanta. It is a world that appears to defy common sense, yet quantum theory has been probed and tested for a hundred years without failing a single test.

Without quantum physics we would not have electronics, magnets, superconductors, lasers, nuclear power or any of the other physical phenomena upon which our highly technological society so crucially depends. Indeed without quantum physics the very fabric of our world and the chemical bonds that hold it together would not exist.

The dawn of the quantum era coincided with the dawn of the 20th Century, and the scientists who developed the theory - Planck, Einstein, de Broglie, Heisenberg, Pauli, Dirac and Schrödinger - are all giants of modern science. But perhaps the greatest quantum physicist of all was Neils Bohr. One hundred years ago this year Bohr developed the quantum model of the atom, a model which completely changed the way we understand the material world.

This lecture will explore some of the strangeness and contradictions of the quantum world, but will hopefully shed some light on why quantum physics is beautiful, powerful and so very important.


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