Physics Through the Looking Glass

I recently took part in the popular Three Minute Thesis competition. Each contestant gets just 3 minutes to explain their research to a panel of laymen. Although I didn’t make it to the national finals, it was nevertheless great fun.

Here’s an audio recording of my speech, taken live at the QMUL finals. For the experts among you, I’m giving an account of my attempts to use twistor techniques to investigate subleading soft theorems in gauge theory and gravity!

3 thoughts on “Physics Through the Looking Glass”

  1. Out of curiosity, what visual did you use?

    I’m a little leery of describing particle scattering as breaking things, just because it tends to make people think that bigger particles are literally made up of smaller particles. But in three minutes it’s hard to avoid that description.

    1. My visual was the rather unimaginative combination of a snapshot from the ALICE detector alongside a mirror. If I hadn’t had such a busy week I might have come up with a more creative idea. Having said that, I’m struggling to see how I might visualize scattering events in twistor variables.

      I agree that my description of particle scattering is somewhat lazy. Unfortunately I don’t have a ready-made alternative that’s both comprehensible and quick to convey. Have you got a favourite phrase or two which fits the bill?

      1. With a mirror metaphor, that’s probably a decent choice of visual. From what I’ve heard, five minute theses tend to go better if the visual is more of a metaphor, rather than a direct visualization.

        With that time limit, truth be told, I might just go with the breaking things apart description! But with a bit more time, I like to emphasize that when particles interact they can also transform, and that with more energy to work with they can transform into more massive particles. It’s still not exactly what’s going on, but thinking about it as transformation rather than breaking forestalls the whole “but what’s the smallest particle?” question.

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