Physics Colloquia Series Presents: Prof Tom McLeish FRS, Durham University 'Learning new physics from a medieval thinker: Big Bangs and Rainbows’

21 February 2017

Friday, 24th February 2017 at 15:30

Abstract: For the English polymath, Robert Grosseteste, light was the fundamental first form that gave dimensionality and stability to the material world. In a dozen scientific treatises written in the early 13th Century, he postulated a physics of light, colour and the rainbow. In this talk, Prof. McLeish will introduce Robert Grossteste (ca 1170 -1253), the scientist, teacher, theologian and bishop and describe how a unique collaborative research approach has revealed new insights into his thought, particularly on light. An interdisciplinary team of historians, scientists, linguists and philosophers has developed techniques of joint reading of the medieval texts that have shown them to be logically consistent and founded on mathematically based models. We reflect on how a study of this extraordinary medieval science can help throw fresh light on the history of scientific thought, and bridge the current perception gap between the study of science and humanities.

About the speaker: Tom McLeish is Professor of Physics at Durham University and also chairs the Royal Society’s education committee. After a first degree in physics and PhD (1987) in polymer physics at Cambridge University, a lectureship at Sheffield University, in complex fluid physics, lead to a chair at Leeds University from 1993. He has since won several awards both in Europe (Weissenberg Medal) and the USA (Bingham Medal) for his work on molecular rheology of polymers, and ran a large collaborative and multidisciplinary research programme in this field from 1999-2009 co-funded by EPSRC and industry.

His research interests include: molecular rheology of polymeric fluids; macromolecular biological physics; issues of theology, ethics and history of science. He has published over 180 scientific papers and reviews, and is in addition regularly involved in science-communication with the public, including lectures and workshops on science and faith. In 2014 OUP published his book Faith and Wisdom in Science. He has been a Reader in the Anglican Church since 1993, in the dioceses of Ripon and York. In 2011 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 2012 he was made Vice-President of Science by the Institute of Physics (IoP).
For more information please see here.

Martin Wood Lecture Theatre, Clarendon Laboratory, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PU Followed by tea/coffee in the Clarendon Laboratory Common room

Tom McLeish Colloquium.pdf328.37 KB