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WHY COMPLEXITY IN NATURE LEADS TO MANY CAREERS FOR PHYSICISTS Dr Graham S McDonald Head of Materials & Physics Research Centre University of Salford KS4.

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Presentation on theme: "WHY COMPLEXITY IN NATURE LEADS TO MANY CAREERS FOR PHYSICISTS Dr Graham S McDonald Head of Materials & Physics Research Centre University of Salford KS4."— Presentation transcript:

1 WHY COMPLEXITY IN NATURE LEADS TO MANY CAREERS FOR PHYSICISTS Dr Graham S McDonald Head of Materials & Physics Research Centre University of Salford KS4 Teachers Conference MMU June 2010

2 OUTLINE Motivation challenges "Complexity" – what is it ? – subject / career areas ? – how can it work ? Hands-on demos / projects (note: flashing lights in videos) Key Stage 4 relevance

3 Motivation challenges … Career possibilities ? … Relevance to modern society ? … Just technical ? Boys' subject versus attractions of biology, environment, health & 'helping people' … What can be hands-on in class ? … Links to modern multi-media ?

4 Complexity - what is it ? … a subject bridging across diverse fields … common aspects identified, due to similar processes … transferring knowledge and techniques between these diverse fields

5 edited version of image at Complexity - subject / career areas ? dynamics fractals & chaos ecology, climate & society Nature's patterns & evolution networks, society, globalism, internet biology + engineering robotics artificial intelligence & smart technologies cells, genetics, chemistry, artificial life, information technologies, business decisions, political decisions Alan Turing

6 People as particles e.g. £10 Million for EPSRC's 2009 call: "Complexity Science for the Real World" Catastrophe, risk, robustness and recovery – resilience of societal systems Self-sustaining communities, … Demographics – … immigration; …the workforce; … pensions, … geography … activity Importance investment jobs & careers

7 For example, Similar processes in very complicated ("complex") systems tend to result in … 1. SIMPLE PATTERNS or 2. VERY COMPLEX PATTERNS (fractals) Complexity - how can it work ?

8 1. SIMPLE PATTERNS (e.g. single spots, vortices, spirals, hexagons/honeycombs, stripes, …)

9 Spontaneous patterns in chemical reactions (A Goryachev, AStar, Singapore)

10 Fish skins & simulated patterns Barrio et al, Bull Math Biol 61, FISHSIMULATED PATTERNS

11 Spiral waves in biological systems (A Goryachev, AStar, Singapore)

12 Dark spots FLUID VORTEX ATMOSPHERIC VORTEX (TORNADO)

13 NOT A 'SIMPLE PATTERN' !

14 2. VERY COMPLEX PATTERNS ( fractals: patterns with more & more detail evident when you look closer & closer )

15 Many scale patterns in Nature Idealised representations In Nature … statistical variation many (but not all) scales

16

17 SIMILAR COMMON MECHANISM giving rise to universal patterns is FEEDBACK …

18 Examples of feedback Audio feedback Electronic feedback AUDIO OUTPUTINPUT (MICROPHONE) INPUT SIGNAL OUTPUT SIGNAL

19 Video feedback … VIDEO OUTPUTINPUT (CAMERA) Hands-on demos / projects

20 cctv camera + monitor cctv camera + projector

21 cctv camera + computer flat-screen With single mirror on left side

22 camera + analogue TV With two-mirror Kaleidoscope (90º)

23 camera + analogue TV (or projector) With three-mirror Kaleidoscope (60º) Looking inside

24 camera + projector With four-mirror Kaleidoscope (90º)

25 camera + 2 projectors camera + 3 screens

26 2 projector feedback loops (with overlapping screens)

27 Kaleidoscopes as a sub-project … David Brewster (born 1781) J Walker, The Amateur scientist, Sci Am 253, 124 (1985) two-mirror Kaleidoscope

28 3-mirror kaleidoscope J Walker, The Amateur scientist, Sci Am 253, 124 (1985)

29 Key Stage 4 relevance ORC Year 10 ORC Year 11 P1 - Energy for the Home (stable Earth) P2 - Living for the Future (threats to Earth) } Wide range of potential analyses and technologies arising from Complexity P1 - Forces for Transport (speed, energy, forces) 'Nonlinear Dynamics' is a generalisation of these key concepts, also involving pendula, springs, masses, oscillations, etc. Time to resurrect the computer applets for pattern formation, fractals and chaos ? P2 - Living for the Future (threats to Earth) topics … Electricity, Ultrasound, Medical Applications, … Could open up discussion areas for artificial intelligence, robotics, living forms, etc.

30 Conclusion Stephen Hawking prediction: this 21 st century will be the century of complexity


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