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Vis lucis, vis luminis: how optics shaped physics

Prof Ian Walmsley will explain how optics has paved the way for advances in physics over the last 400 years, either as enabling technology, such as the telescope, or by providing fundamental phenomena, such as the spectrum of light emitted from hot objects and the electrons ejected from metals, that have led to revolutionary new insights.


Every time we use a telephone, our conversation often travels as light through a fibre-optic for part of the journey. Every time we play a DVD the information is read from the disc using a laser. Every time we check out purchases from the supermarket, the bar codes are scanned optically. But aside from being the basis of many technologies, light has a central role in science. Prof Walmsley will explain how optics has paved the way for advances in physics over the last 400 years, either as enabling technology, such as the telescope, or by providing fundamental phenomena, such as the spectrum of light emitted from hot objects and the electrons ejected from metals, that have led to revolutionary new insights.

Although optics is among the most ancient of sciences, it still remains at the forefront of research. Today it is possible reach the coldest temperatures imaginable using optical cooling and trapping, to generate extremely brief bursts of X-rays to study the arrangements of atoms in molecules and solids, and to use these technologies to process information in ways that are not possible using regular computers.


Speaker(s):

Prof Ian Walmsley | talks

 

Date and Time:

30 April 2010 at 8:00 pm

Duration:

1 hour

 

Venue:

The Royal Institution
21 Albemarle Street
London
W1S 4BS
020 7409 2992
http://www.rigb.org/

More at The Royal Institution...

 

Tickets:

Tickets are free to Ri Full Members, £10 Associate Members and £15 guests.

Available from:

For more information visit www.rigb.org or call the Events Team on 020 7409 2992 9.00am-5.00pm Monday to Friday

Membership Information:

This is a members-only event

To become a member of the Ri please visit www.rigb.org/membership or call 020 7670 2919.

Additional Information:

FEDs are only open to Ri Members and their guests.

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