Lower Sixth Visit Imperial College

Lower Sixth Visit Imperial College

This Tuesday saw 14 of Caterham’s keenest physicists take a trip to Imperial College, London to listen to Professor Andrew Tolley’s talk on the topic of ‘Cosmology and Dark Energy’.

Once re-energised on litres of luminous milkshake and Japanese cuisine courtesy of Kensington’s finest eateries, our Lower Sixth Form pupils settled in to learn about how our understanding of gravity has changed the way we perceive our universe, its history and even the fundamental notions of reality. Starting with Newton’s Law of Gravitation (taught in Upper Sixth A-Level), we enjoyed a whistle-stop tour of Einstein’s General Relativity, learning about how the curvature of spacetime gives us an alternative, kinematic description of gravity, one which suggests that gravity isn’t a force at all. These turn-of-the-centuries ideas alongside experimental data on the redshifting of galactic light led to the notion of an expanding universe. This expansion necessitates scientists to seek out an ‘anti-gravity’ component to the laws of cosmology to allow the universe to expand at its accelerated rate. The competing theories behind this are nuanced and complex, but there is no outright winner – it is a mystery yet to be solved – perhaps Prof. Tolley will have inspired one of our pupils to tackle the question head on!

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