Shrewsbury School

Darwin Society Lecture – 'Special Relativity, Black Holes and Gravitational Waves'

Wednesday 21 March 2018

On 16th March, we were delighted to welcome back Dominic Dootson (M 2010-15) to give the fifth of this year's science enrichment lectures for the Darwin Society.

In his Lower Sixth year, Dominic was part of the Shrewsbury School team that represented the UK in the International Young Physicists’ Tournament (IYPT - also known as the 'Physics World Cup'), which was held here at the School (see the feature on IYPT 2014).  The following year, he captained the UK team in the IYPT held in Thailand, where they secured a bronze medal.

Dominic then went on to read Physics at Keble College, Oxford and he is currently in his third year. As part of his degree, he will embark on a Theoretical Physics Research Project in the autumn.

Dominic captivated an audience of current Shrewsbury School students, staff and visitors with his lecture on the different branches of Theoretical Physics, including Einstein's theories of special relativity and general relativity. These are used to explain the existence of gravitational waves, which travel very close to the speed of light and transmit energy - and which have only very recently been detected!

In addition, he explained the consequence of special theory ('lLaws of physics are the same in all inertial reference frames and the speed of light is a constant') and black holes ('singularity' is the point of infinite density and once inside the 'event horizon', nothing can escape!).

Dominic went on to give a special tribute to Professor Stephen Hawking. He predicted a quantum mechanical process that allows black holes to radiate electromagnetic radiation in the form of 'Hawking Radiation'.  The radiation is due to the black hole capturing one of a particle-antiparticle pair created spontaneously near the event horizon.

This was a thought-probing and fascinating talk and gave an excellent insight into the field of theoretical physics.

Martin Kirk, Head of Physics, and Dr Andy Briggs, Head of Science

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