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IOP Spring Conference Report



A great account of the IOP Spring conference here courtesy of Cormac O'Raifeartaigh, reprinted from his blog: antimatter.ie


The theme of this year’s meeting was ‘A Climate of Change’ and thus the programme included several talks on the highly topical subject of anthropogenic climate change. First up was ‘The science of climate change’, a cracking talk on the basic physics of climate change by Professor Joanna Haigh of Imperial College London. This was followed by ‘Climate change: where we are post the IPCC report and COP24’, an excellent presentation by Professor John Sweeney of Maynooth University on the latest results from the IPCC. Then it was my turn. In ‘Climate science in the media – a war on information?’, I compared the coverage of climate change in the media with that of other scientific topics such as medical science and and big bang cosmology. My conclusion was that climate change is a difficult subject to convey to the public, and matters are not helped by actors who deliberately attempt to muddle the science and downplay the threat. You can find details of the full conference programme here and the slides for my own talk are here.


There followed by a panel discussion in which Professor Haigh, Professor Sweeney and I answered questions from the floor on climate science. I don’t always enjoy panel discussions, but I think this one was useful thanks to some excellent chairing by Paul Hardaker of the Institute of Physics.


After lunch, we were treated to a truly fascinating seminar: ‘Tropical storms, hurricanes, or just a very windy day?: Making environmental science accessible through Irish Sign Language’, by Dr Elizabeth Mathews of Dublin City University, on the challenge of making media descriptions of threats such as storms hurricanes and climate change accessible to deaf people. This was followed by a most informative talk by Dr Bajram Zeqiri of the National Physical Laboratory on the recent redefinition of the kilogram, ‘The measure of all things: redefinition of the kilogram, the kelvin, the ampere and the mole’.


Finally, we had the hardest part of the day, the business of trying to select the best postgraduate posters and choosing a winner from the shortlist. As usual, I was blown away by the standard, far ahead of anything I or my colleagues ever produced. In the end, the Rosse Medal was awarded to Sarah Markham of the University of Limerick for a truly impressive poster and presentation.



Cormac O’Raifeartaigh is a graduate of University College Dublin (BSc Hon.) and Trinity College Dublin (PhD). He currently lectures in physics at Waterford Institute of Technology and is a Visiting Associate Professor at the School of Physics at University College Dublin. A solid-state physicist by training, Cormac is best known for several original contributions to the study of the history of 20th century physics. A former Research Fellow at the Science, Technology and Society Program at Harvard University, he is currently a Research Associate at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and a Fellow of the Institute of Physics. Cormac is known to the public as the author of the science blog Antimatter and a monthly science column in The Irish Times. He is the youngest son of the late Lochlainn O’Raifeartaigh, an Irish theoretician who is considered one of the architects of the Standard Model of particle physics

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