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Department of Physics

Physics and Scale

Picture Credit: CERN

Physics and scale: from attophysics to atoms, biology and the Universe.

Organisers: Martin Ward, Alex Lenz, Tom Lancaster
Dates: Tuesday 4th - Wednesday 5th July, 2017.
Venue: Department of Physics, Durham University

As part of the Durham Institute of Advanced Study theme of Scale, this one day workshop will explore the notion of scale in physics from an interdisciplinary perspective. It will cover the history, notions and uses of scale from the smallest lengths accessible in particle physics, via the emergence of phenomena at intermediate scales, and on to the large-scale structure of space and time. Although accounts of scale in subfields of physics are plentiful, there is a surprising lack of coherent discussion linking the concepts across the subject and beyond. This is particularly true of cutting-edge research, where many close links in the use of scaling remain unexploited. This workshop is intended to fill that gap, extending the discussion beyond physics to make contact with philosophy, aesthetics and the life sciences.

The workshop will feature around 8 introductory and general presentations from scientists and philosophers on various aspects of scale, including measurement, history, our understanding of scale and the use of scaling in fundamental particles, statistical physics, cosmology and the life sciences. Speakers will be encouraged to present leading edge examples from their subfields which are not yet be widely known, but which form the basis of links across physics.

A molecular quantum magnet (picture credit: Dr P Goddard)


Confirmed speakers and talk title for the event:

  • Stephen Blundell, University of Oxford: "Scale-bound, scale-free"
  • Steven Bramwell, University College London: "How to Zoom Out: Scaling in Condensed Matter Physics"
  • Carlos Frenk, Durham University: "The scales of the visible Universe: the largest of them all"
  • Robin Hendry, Durham University: "Scale and Emergence"
  • Tom McLeish, Durham University: "Scale and Scaling in Soft Matter Physics"
  • Franz Muheim, University of Edinburgh: "The Higgs Boson, Antimatter and all that"
  • Trevor Wishart, Durham University: "Hearing Time"
  • Jo Wolff, Kings College London "What comes first, scales or quantities?"

A programme and abstracts are available for download.

Cosmic Web (picture credit: Dr Raul Angulo)

Date and Venue

The workshop will take place on July 4 - July 5, 2017 in room OC218 in the the Department of Physics.