Physics In Action Trip To University Of Cambridge

Posted on: 08/01/2018

On the 20th September, a selected group of students and I, eleven in total attended a physics trip to Cambridge University. The trip to Cambridge University’s Physics department was both enlightening and knowledgeable - during the trip we engaged in both experimental and theoretical physics.

Our first workshop at Cambridge was a presentation about natural oil extraction by BP. They talked to us about how algae under the sea decompose to make oil. This occurs as there is no oxygen, so bacteria carry out the decaying process. Whilst the decomposition occurs, the bacteria take away nitrogen atoms leaving carbon and hydrogen atoms making hydrocarbons or oil. As oil is lighter than water it rises above water, so then we can find oils.

We also learnt about a tool with an electromagnet called a Geo­phone. The Geophone is fixed into the ground, for when you send deep wave into the Earth’s crust. The wave then reaches a point were it is reflected and passes back through the objects beneath the earths crust at different wave speeds (the speed of the wave is calculated by frequency * wavelength.) Next, the wave passes into the Geophone, at different waves speeds. The speed of the wave entering the Geophone will also be equivalent to the amount of electricity produced afterwards, so the faster the wave speed the more the electromagnet will move, causing more electricity generated. This process could help find the densities of the objects.

We come to this conclusion by making five statements, Using these five statements, we illustrate that waves can help us find densities in objects as when the wave or kinetic energy hits an object the kinetic energy transfer is moved from particle to particle in that object, so if the object’s particles are tightly packed or dense it doesn’t take long for the kinetic energy to transfer. So when these wave speeds hit the Geophone you will have different wave speeds showing the different densities of the objects under the ground. This can also help us find oil, as when you find a wave speed which shows the density of oil, you have found oil where the Geophone is located.

The second workshop we had stated about a theoretical concept called the Epoch of Reionization. This workshop worked on a theory that when stars form, a bubble is created around the stars, which blows away negatively charged particles or electrons and hydrogen gas. The aim of the project was to find evidence that these bubbles existed when the first stars were formed, roughly 500 million years after the Big Bang. This concept intertwines with a real concept called the Doppler Shift.

The Doppler Shift is about hearing a certain sound at one point but as the sound gets further away or as time goes on the sound gets fainter until it is too faint for the human ear to hear.

The last workshop I will talk about is the Rolls-Royce plane engine turbine. At the workshop we learnt about the functions of a airplane engine turbine. During flight, air goes along the plane turbine, where 80% of the air is bypassed creating power to move the plane. The remaining 20% of the air goes in the turbine at 1.2 kilometres a second and is compressed to about 1/55 of its original size. This builds up kinetic energy, which is then sprayed with fuel and combusted to create energy to move the plane.

In our time at Cambridge’s Physics Department, we also learnt about using computer software to run simulations according to particular physics situations in real life, and con­ducting a forensic investigation on wear and tear of materials in a mechanical bridge that collapsed in the early 2000s. We went around town and saw universities like Corpus Christi College and Pembroke College.

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