Physics and life

24 March 2017

IOP Ireland’s annual Spring Meeting took physics and life as its theme and had over 100 attending in the Gibson Hotel in Dublin. The event, which was steered by the School of Physics at Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), combined academic talks on biophysics, the use of physics in everyday life, unconscious bias in the science community and true-life tales.

Professor Jamie Hobbs from the University of Sheffield spoke on the complexity of living systems and the role of physics in elucidating them.  Professor Cait MacPhee, of Edinburgh University looked at proteins as switchable Janus ellipsoids – micro particles who surfaces have two or more distinct physical symptoms while Professor Fiona Lyng of DIT described how Raman spectroscopy offers the possibility of the detection of cervical pre-cancer. In a turn away from biophysics, Professor David Parker of the University of Birmingham looked at the use of antimatter in everyday settings such as in dishwashers and in brewing beer.

The event continued with a workshop by Dr Katja Poppenhaeger of Queen’s University Belfast on unconscious bias presenting interesting statistics on areas such as recruitment while Sue McGrath of Science2Life gave an impromptu and highly entertaining display of the physics of bubbles. The formal part of the day concluded with a session on Physicists Tales, featuring true stories from six participants on aspects of their lives. The session was organised by the Tenx9 group from Belfast.

A highlight of the day was the Rosse Medal competition for physics communication. The medal commemorates the 3rd Earl of Rosse (Sir William Parsons KP, FRS) and his contributions to science. This year there were 56 entries from postgraduate students attending colleges all over Ireland.  Six finalists made it through to the second round to give a five minute presentation on their work to the audience. The finalists were:
Anita Brady Boyd, Dublin City University
Andrea Doyle, Dublin Institute of Technology
Andrew Malone, Dublin Institute of Technology
Cian McKeown, University of Limerick
Claire O’Connell, Dublin City University
Andrew Swann, Queen’s University Belfast

Cian McKeogh of the University of Limerick won the competition for his poster and 5 minutes presentation on ‘How Strain Enhances Fuel Cell Catalysts’.

Photos by Dr Peter van der Burgt, Maynooth University
More pictures are available here.