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Durham University

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Durham science expert unveils universe’s secrets to students around UK

(5 May 2006)

Dr Pete Edwards

A Durham lecturer is returning to his classroom roots to blaze a trail across the UK’s classrooms by bringing the universe to life for students and delivering the Institute of Physics Schools Lectures Series 2006.

With ‘Gravity, Gas and Stardust’ Dr Pete Edwards, Science and Society Officer in the Department of Physics at Durham University, takes students on a journey through the cosmos, exploring some of the latest results from the world of astronomy and what they reveal regarding the birth, life and death of our universe.

Dr Edwards commented: “The show explores the questions of how and when did our universe begin? What made it look like this? And, how will it end? It includes spectacular demonstrations, hands-on activities and 3D movie clips to uncover the evidence for the birth of the universe in a Big Bang. It explores the structure of the universe and shows how, using supercomputers, cosmologists can predict the fate of the cosmos.

“We really want to bring physics and science to life and explain how it underlies everything that surrounds us. We’ve also made sure the show links in well with the Key Stage 4 of the National Curriculum to make sure it’s as useful and inspiring for teachers and students as possible.”

Peter Main, Director of Education and Science at the Institute, said: “The lecture tour is a great way for us to show young people where the physics they learn in class can lead to. They get to meet a physicist and the interactive approach helps to get them thinking and excited about physics.”

Dr Pete Edwards is an experienced science communicator who co-ordinates the outreach programme of the Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics at Durham University Durham and the UK Dark Matter Collaboration, at the Boulby potash mine near Whitby. The programme’s primary focus is on developing resources and activities to explore the origins of the universe, the properties of the fundamental particles and the nature of the dark matter (see http://www.dur.ac.uk/physics.outreach). He is a former secondary school teacher whose previous research interests included cosmic ray physics, gamma ray astronomy and modelling the thermal signatures of man-made systems.

Pete is touring the country and delivering the lecture at 43 venues all over the UK until December this year. The lecture lasts an hour and is suitable for 14 - 16 year olds. For more information about dates and venues go to http://teachingphysics.iop.org/

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