"A History of the Small"

Location: Martin Wood Lecture Theatre, Department of Physics

Date: Saturday 23 February 2019

Time: 10:30 - 17:00


Throughout the ages physics has sought to explain the nature of matter both on Earth and in the heavens. Millennia ago, the Greek philosophers posited the existence of atoms, thereby launching a journey through the centuries, which in due course confirmed their existence and have made them tools of our everyday life. More recently, modern thought combined the theories of relativity and quantum mechanics leading to an understanding of matter now encoded in the Standard Model. This progress has led to startling new applications in fields such as nanotechnology and genomics. This conference will trace the progress of thought from the speculations of the ancients to the reality of the modern day.

The programme for the day is below:

MORNING CHAIR: Dr Nicoleta Gaciu (Oxford Brookes University)

10.30 am WELCOME

10.40 am Professor Peter Atkins (University of Oxford) - The Evolution of the Atom [VIDEO]

11.30 am Professor Michelle Peckham (University of Leeds) - What is a Microscope? How the Microscope has Evolved over 350 Years [VIDEO]

12.20 pm Professor Sean Freeman (University of Manchester)Searching for Atomic Constituents: Splitting the Atom? [VIDEO]


AFTERNOON CHAIR: Dr Shirley Northover (The Open University)

2.15 pm Dr Rolf Landua (CERN, Geneva) - A Short History of the Smallest [VIDEO]

3.05 pm Professor Jeremy Baumberg FRS (University of Cambridge) -  The Emergence of Nanoscience [VIDEO]


4.30 pm SUMMARY OF THE DAY'S PROCEEDINGS - Professor Alfons Weber (University of Oxford/Rutherford Appleton Laboratory) [VIDEO]

There will be a conference dinner at St Cross in the evening following the end of the conference with an after-dinner talk by Jonty Hurwitz (nano sculptor and engineer) on his construction of the smallest human form ever created using nanotechnology.

This event is sponsored by the Faculty of History, University of Oxford and by a grant-in-aid from the Center for History of Physics, American Institute of Physics.