The Rise of Big Science in Physics

Location: Martin Wood Lecture Theatre, Department of Physics

Date: Saturday 22 February 2020

Time: 10:30 - 17:00

RSVP:  Free to attend, book your ticket here.
Registration for the conference and dinner has now closed. Please contact with
any queries.




The early roots of Big Science, especially in physics, might be traced back to the Great War, which saw the development of aviation science and sonar. Subsequently the Second World War hinged on the development of radar and most famously, on the Manhattan Project's development of the atomic bomb, which is widely considered to be the advent of the Big Science era. Following the end of the Second World War, globalisation has led modern science with the foundation of international laboratories such as CERN in Switzerland and later LIGO in the USA as well as many international collaborations led by NASA and other Big Science organisations worldwide. This conference will review the rise of Big Science in physics across the decades and consider its future trajectory.




MORNING CHAIR: Dr Stephen Johnston (History of Science Museum, Oxford)


10:40 Professor Helge Kragh (Niels Bohr Institute) - Big Physics: The Manhattan Project and What Followed [video]

11:30 Dr Isabelle Wingerter (French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS)) - CERN, the LHC, the Higgs Boson and the Rest [video]

12:20 Dr Bernard Bigot (Director-General, ITER Organization) - The ITER Project: The Way to New Energy [video]


AFTERNOON CHAIR: Professor Chris Damerell (Rutherford Appleton Laboratory)

14:15 Professor Carole Jackson (ASTRON, Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy) - Big Science
and the Universe: Mega-projects in Astronomy 

15:05 Dr Michael Banks (Physics World, Institute of Physics Publishing) - Big Science in Physics: A Look [video]
at the Decade Ahead


16:30 SUMMARY OF THE DAY'S PROCEEDINGS - Professor Frank Close (University of Oxford) [video]

There will be a conference dinner at St Cross in the evening following the end of the conference. Booking to attend the conference dinner can be made here.