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Department of Physics


A lecture delivered each December to a total of more than six hundred local school pupils in years twelve and thirteen.

The Subtle Science of Soft Slimy Stuff!

A lecture by Professor Tom McLiesh

This Christmas Lecture takes us into the insides of sticky and slimy stuff – slugs crawl on it, our lungs clean themselves with it, plastics are made from frozen layers of it. But what is slime? And what makes it stringy? We dive into the tangled nano-world of chaotic dancing long-chain molecules and discover what has brought physicists together with chemists, engineers and biologists to explore why life itself is so slimy….

Universe Missing! - The 2014 Durham Christmas Lecture

A lecture by Dr Pete Edwards

Most of our universe is missing! When we look into the night sky we realise there is much more out there than meets the eye. Our universe is filled with mysterious dark matter, whose gravity provides the cosmic glue that holds it together, and dark energy which is slowly tearing the universe apart. It seems that darkness rules.

This year’s Durham Physics Christmas Lecture turns to the dark side of the Universe. Pete will reveal the nature of the dark stuff, explain how we know it is there and explore what it does.


Thanks for the memory - From hard rocks to hard disks: How magnetic information changed the world

A lecture by Dr Del Atkinson

2013's Durham Physics Christmas Lecture explained the physics of how magnetism can store information both naturally in rocks and in electronic devices. The lecture went on to describe how information extracted from the natural magnetic memory in volcanic rocks revolutionised geology and how similar information has provided a method for dating archaeological artifacts. The talk then shot forward in time, describing how man-made magnetic memory devices led to the hard disk drive and cloud computing. Finally Del concluded his talk with some hints about the future of data storage for the electronic age.

Year Lecturer Title of Lecture Videos Available


Prof Tom McLiesh

The Subtle Science of Soft Slimy Stuff!


Dr Pete Edwards

Universe Missing! - The 2014 Durham Physics Xmas Lecture

2013 Dr Del Atkinson Thanks for the memory - From hard rocks to hard disks: How magnetic information changed the world
2012 Prof P Richardson 2012: The year of the Higgs Boson
2011 Prof M Ward The Ultimate Fate of the Universe
2010 Prof B K Tanner Sounds Fantastic
2009 Prof J Girkin Making light work for Doctors
2008 Dr G Love Light: Skies, Eyes and Spies
2007 Prof G Weiglein 'The LHC - Exploring the mysteries of matter, space and time'
2006 Dr M R C Hunt Nanotechnology: the next big thing is small
2005 Dr C Done Extrasolar planets and extraterrestrial life
2004 Dr I G Hughes Cool things to do with lasers
2003 Dr P J Edwards A recipe for the universe
2002 Prof E W N Glover The hunt for the Higgs
2001 Dr R P Cowburn The incredible shrinking world of nanotechnology
2000 Dr C Done Black holes - fact, fiction or fantasy?
1999 Prof R L Davies New eyes on the universe: telescopes for the millennium
1998 Dr P D Hatton Superconductivity: money, science and applications
1997 Prof D R Flower Galactic nebulae
1996 Prof A D Martin Neutrinos
1995 Dr R M Sharples New light from the cosmos - astronomical technology in the 1990's
1994 Dr A P Monkman A practical guide to lasers
1993 Dr T Shanks Einstein's universe
1992 Prof W J Stirling The fundamental particles - the building blocks of matter
1991 Dr C S Frenk The universe: What is the matter?
1990 Prof B K Tanner In record time
1989 Prof A W Wolfendale Where do cosmic rays come from?
1988 Dr C J Maxwell Hunting elementary particles
1987 Dr B K Tanner & Dr N R Berhoeft There is no resisting a semiconductor
1986 Dr T Shanks & Dr J R Lucey Stepping out into the universe
1985 Dr D R Flower Interstellar matter
1984 Dr K E Turver Very energetic gamma ray astronomy
1983 Dr B K Tanner & Dr S R Hoon Magnetic fluids
1982 Dr F D Gault Elementary particle physics: a GUT response
1981 Prof A W Wolfendale The new astronomies
1980 Dr B K Tanner & Dr Dr S R Hoon The physics of music
1979 Dr R Fong Einstein's universe
1978 Dr J M Breare & Dr A D Martin What are we made of?
1977 Dr J V Major & Dr K J Orford Resonance revealed
1976 Dr B K Tanner & Dr W D Corner A magnetic attraction
1975 Dr K J Orford Energy conversion