Why complexity in nature leads to many careers for physicists
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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 Teachers’ Conference MMU June 2010. OUTLINE. ● Motivation challenges ● "Complexity" – what is it ?

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WHY COMPLEXITY IN NATURE LEADS TO MANY CAREERS FOR PHYSICISTS

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Why complexity in nature leads to many careers for physicists

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


Outline

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


Motivation challenges

● 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 ?


Complexity what is it

● “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


Why complexity in nature leads to many careers for physicists

● “Complexity” - subject / career areas ?

fractals & chaos

dynamics

ecology, climate & society

networks,

society,

globalism,

internet

Nature's patterns & evolution

biology + engineering → robotics

Alan Turing

cells, genetics, chemistry, artificial life,

information technologies, business decisions,

political decisions

artificial

intelligence

& smart

technologies

edited version of image at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complexity


People as particles

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


For example

● “Complexity” - how can it work ?

For example,

Similar processes in very complicated

("complex") systems tend to result in …

1. SIMPLE PATTERNS

or

2. VERY COMPLEX PATTERNS

(“fractals”)


1 simple patterns

1. SIMPLE PATTERNS

(e.g. single spots,

vortices,

spirals,

hexagons/honeycombs,

stripes, …)


Spontaneous patterns in chemical reactions

Spontaneous patterns in chemical reactions

(A Goryachev, A’Star, Singapore)


Fish skins simulated patterns

Fish skins & simulated patterns

FISH

SIMULATED PATTERNS

Barrio et al, Bull Math Biol 61, 483 1999


Spiral waves in biological systems

Spiral waves in biological systems

(A Goryachev, A’Star, Singapore)


Dark spots

“Dark spots”

FLUID VORTEX

ATMOSPHERIC VORTEX

(TORNADO)


Why complexity in nature leads to many careers for physicists

NOT A 'SIMPLE PATTERN' !


2 very complex patterns

2. VERY COMPLEX PATTERNS

( “fractals”:

patterns with

more & more detail

evident when you

look closer & closer )


Many scale patterns in nature

Many scale patterns in Nature

Idealised

representations

In Nature …

● statistical variation

● many (but not all) scales


Why complexity in nature leads to many careers for physicists

SIMILAR COMMON MECHANISM

giving rise to universal patterns is

FEEDBACK …


Examples of feedback

Examples of feedback

●Audio feedback

AUDIO OUTPUT

INPUT (MICROPHONE)

●Electronic feedback

INPUT SIGNAL

OUTPUT

SIGNAL


Why complexity in nature leads to many careers for physicists

● Hands-on demos / projects

Video feedback …

INPUT (CAMERA)

VIDEO OUTPUT


Cctv camera monitor

cctv camera + monitor

cctv camera + projector


Why complexity in nature leads to many careers for physicists

cctv camera + computer flat-screen

With single mirror on left side


Why complexity in nature leads to many careers for physicists

camera + analogue TV

With two-mirrorKaleidoscope (90º)


Why complexity in nature leads to many careers for physicists

camera + analogue TV (or projector)

With three-mirrorKaleidoscope (60º)

Looking inside


Why complexity in nature leads to many careers for physicists

camera + projector

With four-mirrorKaleidoscope (90º)


Why complexity in nature leads to many careers for physicists

camera + 2 projectors

camera + 3 screens


Why complexity in nature leads to many careers for physicists

2 projector feedback loops(with overlapping screens)


Kaleidoscopes as a sub project

Kaleidoscopes as a sub-project …

two-mirror Kaleidoscope

David Brewster

(born 1781)

J Walker, The Amateur scientist, Sci Am 253, 124 (1985)


3 mirror kaleidoscope

3-mirror kaleidoscope

J Walker,

The Amateur scientist,

Sci Am 253, 124 (1985)


Why complexity in nature leads to many careers for physicists

● Key Stage 4 relevance

ORC Year 10

}

Wide range of potential

analyses and technologies

arising from Complexity

P1 - Energy for the Home (stable Earth)

P2 - Living for the Future (threats to Earth)

ORC Year 11

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.


Why complexity in nature leads to many careers for physicists

Conclusion

Stephen Hawking prediction:this 21st century will be “the century of complexity”


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