Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Paul Dirac Talk at Surrey

Not being very good at saying "no" to things has its upsides.  For example, I agreed to organise a series of evening lectures at the University of Surrey on behalf of the Institute of Physics South Central Branch.  I've been doing this for a few years now, and it gives me an opportunity to invite people that I'd like to hear talk to give a lecture, suitable for the physics-interested general public.

Sometimes I invite people with little hope that they will really come, because they are too in-demand to consider a feeless (apart from a nice meal afterwards) gig with an audience of 100 to be a sensible use of time.  I invited Andre Geim from Manchester, Nobel Laureate from 2010, to come this year, but unsurprisingly I got an automated response, which was very courteous, and gave instructions for how to contact him in different ways depending on the nature of the email, but pointing out that he is unable to accept most invitations to talk.  Fair enough.

It was with a similar spirit more of hope than expectation that I invited Graham Farmelo to come to talk about Paul Dirac.  Graham's book about Dirac, The Strangest Man, has been lauded widely, winning prizes along the way, and I figured our evening IoP talk might be too small a gig for him.  I was delighted then, when he said yes.

He'll be here, at the University of Surrey, on 23rd November, talking from 7 to 8pm in the Griffiths Lecture Theatre in the Lecture Theatre Block (see campus map).  Please feel free to come along.  No booking is required, and the event is free.  You can register interest, if you want, on the event's facebook page.

The nuclear physics link (since this is ostensibly a nuclear physics blog) is that, aside from laying down much of quantum physics, and its relativistic counterpart, which paved the way for the quantum field theories that underlie theoretical nuclear physics, he was the first to write the time-dependent Hartree-Fock equations, which are the basis of quite a bit of my research.  It is not uncommon for me to cite the paper, from 1930, in which he laid down the theory.