Merton Presentations 2013


Week 3, Saturday, deadline for titles and abstracts submissions. 

Week 6, Tuesday and Wednesday 16:00-18:00 (Fitzjames 1). Rehearsals. 

Week 8, Tuesday 16:00-19:00 (Fitzjames 1). Final presentations.


Title: Beyond the Cradle

Abstract: As the human population continues to grow, becoming ever hungrier for resources, it increasingly seems that the most economically feasible long-term solution is for humanity to try its fortunes in interplanetary space. In this talk I aim to discuss how the first steps of this process might be taken, beginning with the development of more efficient means of reaching orbit and the physics behind them. I will examine the ways that passing asteroids could serve as new sources of raw materials, and the orbital mechanics involved in regularly making journeys back and forth to an object with an eccentric orbit. Finally, if I have time, I will look at the survival challenges faced by humans in space, in particular the threats posed by cosmic radiation and micrometeoroids.


Title: Quantum Teleportation

Abstract: The talk will start with mentioning classical bits and introducing their quantum equivalent, the qubit. Some properties of them are discussed and quantum indistinguishability is revised. After this introduction the theory of quantum teleportation is discussed. This includes superdense coding to introduce important concepts such as the four Bell states and the four unitary transformations used to recover certain quantum states. After that I will talk about the actual quantum teleportation protocol as proposed by Bennett et al. and mention theorems such as ‘no-cloning’. After the theory, the talk will move to the experimental realisation thereof starting with describing a source of entangled photons using parametric down conversion and very quickly touch on the issue of performing a BSM. This discussion will be incorporated into the last part of the presentation, if time does not allow an extra treatment of it. In the final part of the talk I will quickly describe the experimental setup and outcome of the experiment performed in Innsbruck by Zeilinger et al.


Title: The Physical Possibilities of Travel through Time

Abstract: The aim is to give an overview of Einstein’s ideas of a curved spacetime and how his theory of relativity can lead to many physical possibilities of time travel, to the future and to the past. Explaining how multiple theories satisfying Einstein’s equations can accomplish time travel including Special and General Relativity, as well as Superstring theory and the concept of wormholes.


Title: Physics and Butterflies

Abstract: From striking colourful wings produced by optical effects of the interference of light, to their uses in new technologies, butterflies and physics when looked at together have the ability to both amaze the observer and improve technologies. This presentation aims to look at these interesting properties and contemplate the movements of butterflies in air and analyse the physics of this. It will then go on to look at how current research is turning to nature, and to butterflies, in order to advance materials by taking inspiration from where nature has triumphed first. This presentation aims to convince the audience of how physics can be seen beautifully in nature through the butterfly and ponder what advances we can develop from a butterfly and what these could mean for future technology.


Title: Superconductors, Superfluids and their uses in today's world.

Abstract: Superconductors were strange and unintuitive when they were first discovered. They bemused scientists and inspired a new generation of physicists. In this talk I aim to unravel the mysteries of the superconductors and explore how they were discovered in the first place. I will then demonstrate, through the means of YouTube, some of their most interesting properties and try and give the audience a taste the physics behind them. I will continue by taking a slight detour and dive into the world of superfluidity. To conclude I will show the audience how they can be utilised in today's world and how these weird and wonderful properties lend themselves to certain applications. 


Title: Quantum Encryption

Abstract: In my presentation I plan to briefly touch on the problems with classical encryption (and how their security is dependent on the eavesdroppers computing power). I then plan to talk about how quantum physics can be used to send encryption keys securely through both entanglement and polarized photons and how their security does not depend on an eavesdroppers computing power. However, I may decide to shift my talk to be more about one method of security than the other depending on time constraints and the amount of detail I wish to express.


Title: The Flight of a Frisbee

Abstract: I will discuss the physics behind a Frisbee's flight, focussing on how it generates and utilises aerodynamic lift and gyroscopic stability to achieve a smooth flight. If possible, I want to develop a decent model of the Frisbee flight and conduct numerical simulations.


Title: Metamaterial cloaking

Abstract: In recent years astonishing scientific progress has been made in developing the 'invisibility cloak' of legend. One particularly ingenious way of achieving this has been by channeling the awesome power of 'metamaterials': complex artificial materials that have been engineered at the subwavelength level to give rise to incredible electric and magnetic phenomena not found in nature. The principle of their operation is the new and fascinating field of 'transformation optics', which details how the trajectory of light through a medium can be twisted and warped as desired using appropriate coordinate transformations of space according to a ray of light. However, as expected from a field at such an early stage, there are still many barriers to reaching the ultimate goal: cloaking a human-sized object in a practical way. I hope I can show you how and why this works, and perhaps shed some light on recent developments...or not.