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Physics Feuds Throughout History

25th February 2023, 10:30 am – 5:00 pm

In the progression of physics, most facts and laws have been established only after decades, often centuries, of discussion and dispute. This conference will review some of the great disputes stretching from antiquity to the modern day. From the classical Greek discussions on the nature of space and matter, through the founding disputes of modern science and its mathematics (led by Newton’s disputes with contemporaries) up to the recent controversies in quantum mechanics and cosmology, the feuds between leading thinkers and their vital role in establishing successive views of our physical world will be examined.

Registration to attend this conference is free but booking is required to attend the conference as below.

IN-PERSON ATTENDANCE INCLUDING THE CONFERENCE DINNER: https://www.oxforduniversitystores.co.uk/conferences-and-events/st-cross-college/happcentre/physics-feuds-throughout-history-oneday-conference 

ONLINE LIVESTREAMING ON YOUTUBE: https://www.oxforduniversitystores.co.uk/product-catalogue/st-cross-college/happcentre/physics-feuds-throughout-history-oneday-conference-online

The programme for the day is below:

MORNING CHAIR:

10:30 WELCOME

10:40 Professor Andrew Gregory (University College London) – Aristotle versus Democritus: Are there Atoms and Empty Space?

11:30 Professor Anna Marie Roos (University of Lincoln) – Deconstructing the Copernican and Galilean Controversy with the Catholic Church

12:20 Professor Robert Iliffe (University of Oxford) – Why did Newton engage in disputes with Hooke and Leibniz? Personal, scientific and institutional aspects.

13:15 LUNCH BREAK

AFTERNOON CHAIR:

14:15 Professor Reinhard Werner (Leibniz University Hannover) – Bohr versus Einstein

15:05 Dr Simon Mitton (University of Cambridge) – The Big Bang versus the Steady State: Hoyle, Ryle and Gamow, Rivals in Cosmology

16:00 TEA/COFFEE BREAK

16:30 SUMMARY OF THE DAY’S PROCEEDINGS – Dr Patricia Fara (University of Cambridge)

There will be a very special conference dinner at the University Museum of Natural History in the evening alongside the dinosaurs following the end of the conference with an after-dinner talk by Professor Randall Parrish (University of Portsmouth and British Geological Survey) on how the original disputes surrounding the age of the Earth were resolved by physical techniques. Booking to attend the conference dinner can be made at https://www.oxforduniversitystores.co.uk/conferences-and-events/st-cross-college/happcentre/physics-feuds-throughout-history-oneday-conference

Please contact happ-centre@stx.ox.ac.uk with any queries.