The ABC of the Universe - Tyndall Schools Lecture 2020 at Institute of Technology Carlow

04/02/2020 09:43:00

More than 200 secondary school students and teachers descended on Institute of Technology Carlow last week for the Tyndall Schools Lectures 2020, sponsored by the Institute of Physics in Ireland.

The annual lecture series is named after Carlow native and physicist John Tyndall, who is responsible for many of the technologies we take for granted today, such as fibre optics. His name is given to The Tyndall Effect in physics and he famously explained why the sky is blue [because molecules in the air scatter blue light from the sun more than they scatter red light]. The Tyndall Schools Lectures are designed to encourage young people to study physics in school and form the next generation of innovative thinking physicists.

This year’s lecture, entitled The ABC of the Universe – Using physics to unlock the hidden treasures of the Universe was delivered by renowned astrophysicist and science communication specialist Dr Liz Conlon, who is co-founder of the very successful Northern Ireland Science Festival.

The event at Institute of Technology Carlow was organised by the assistant registrar Dr. Yvonne Kavanagh, CPhys and introduced by Dr David Dowling, who is head of the Faculty of Science.

During her lecture, Dr. Conlon said physicists have the privilege to peer deeply into nature and derive a simplicity that humans can utilise to make their lives better and easier. Physics research, said Dr. Conlon, leads to advances across medicine, biology, chemistry, materials science, computer science, transport, communications and environmental science.

She demonstrated how, with just three particles and four forces, we can build a model of the universe and set about interacting with these building blocks to deliver mind-blowing advances in understanding and technology.

Dr. Yvonne Kavanagh, Chair of the Institute of Physics in Ireland (IOP), explained that Dr Conlon talked about how physics is embedded in everyday experiences of the modern world and throughout each day we use products or technology that stem from physics, from using a touchscreen, taking a flight to getting an x-ray in hospital without even thinking of how these were developed.

According to the IOP, physics-based businesses contribute over €7bn the Irish Economy.