Despite enduring a certain stigma, fan fiction is a totally legitimate form of culture and a powerful tool to engage with a young audience about science. Here I explain how I have used cartoon ponies as a springboard to talk about everything from the physics of rainbows to nuclear reactors.
Selecting the best candidates for an oversubscribed course is not easy. Here’s how we do it for Oxford physics.
Fifteen years ago, I was a postgraduate physics student at Oxford, working on a dark matter search experiment, when I first read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Material’s trilogy. It was quite a thrill when I reached the part where Lyra walks into our lab to learn what it is, and how we search for it. Here is my perspective on that scene in this epic fantasy.
Behind the scenes at the Curiosity Carnival particle physics stall.
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is something I have lived with all my life. To mark CMT Awareness Month, here is a particle physicist’s description of the condition. I tell my story of the distracting problems I have had with my hands and feet while I was working on the search for dark matter and building instruments to explore the interactions of fundamental particles.
We are now approaching the time of year when thousands of teenagers are fretting about university admissions, dreaming about an exciting future, and perhaps already drafting personal statements to put on application forms. Many will list the books they have read that have inspired them to opt for physics, chemistry, archaeology and anthropology, or whatever. But what books will most impress an admissions tutor? This is a simple question, but as I will try to explain, a full answer is not as simple as a list of titles.
The story of how I set out with a small animation production company on a project to make a series of short 3D films, where our CGI characters would visit astroparticle physics experiments around the world: exploring gamma-ray astronomy in the Namib desert, dark matter searches in a deep underground laboratory, and balloon-borne neutrino detectors flown over the Antarctic ice. This promised to be an epic SciComm adventure, but we didn’t get funded.