Maths and Physics workshops

Attendees had the opportunity to attend two workshop on the day from the following selection. Click the plus sign for further information.

Teaching computers how to think

Keywords: computer science, mathematics, Turing

Workshop overview

Over 60 years ago Alan Turing asked the question: “Can a machine think?” This workshop will give a whirlwind overview of the various technologies that make up a response to that question, known as the field of Artificial Intelligence. We will encounter aspects of mathematics, philosophy, biology and computer science.

The talk will be in a style as if delivered to children, hopefully providing a number of thought-provoking questions you can take back to your own classrooms.

Presenter biography

Gavin Brown is a Senior Lecturer in Computer Science at The University of Manchester, specialising in Artificial Intelligence. He does not build robots, but instead thinks about the algorithms and mathematics that would be needed to make computers that little bit ‘smarter’.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Keywords: physics, aerospace, engineering

Workshop overview

This workshop is a hands-on technology review of the current state-of-the-art in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). It includes demonstrations of how UAVs are used to build 3D maps, and gives you the opportunity to fly an indoor UAV.

Presenter biography

Khristopher Kabbabe is a researcher for the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Research Group at The University of Manchester, with experience in the use of UAVs for conservation and other civil applications.

Using mathematics to look into hidden worlds

Keywords: mathematics, tomography, imaging

Workshop overview

This workshop will focus on tomography, exploring how mathematics can help us look into hidden worlds. Examples will be given from various important and practically relevant applications, including medical imaging and geophysics.

Presenter biography

Dr Oliver Dorn’s areas of interest are applied mathematics and scientific computing. In particular, he is working on areas related to inverse problems and imaging. This field has already a very long history (going back to Sokrates and Plato), but has grown tremendously during the last 10 to 20 years. It has a large variety of practical applications which influence our daily life, such as:

  • medical imaging and tomography (eg computerised tomography, magnetic resonance imaging of the brain, ultrasound imaging and PET), geophysical tomography (eg oil exploration, finding and removing hidden landmines, and finding archaeological treasures or hidden caves);
  • remote sensing (eg tracking and guiding aircrafts in the dark or in fog, mapping the surface of the Earth from airplanes or satellites, and measuring properties of remote stars from telescope data);
  • nondestructive testing (eg finding cracks in airplane wings or bridges, and efficient quality control of processing or manufacturing food, tools or other goods);
  • bioimaging (noninvasively monitoring microscopic or nanoscopic structures or physiological processes in small animals or bacteria).

Iteration and fractals

Keywords: mathematics, iteration, fractals, modelling

Workshop overview

Iteration concerns repeatedly applying the same mathematical rule over and over again. Fractals – complicated sets that have structure at all scales – often result. Fractals are of interest to both pure and applied mathematicians, as well as generating very attractive pictures!

Presenter biography

Dr Charles Walkden obtained his PhD is from Warwick (1997) on ergodic theory. He has been at Manchester since 1997, initially as a post-doc, then as a lecturer (1999) and senior lecturer (2013), working in ergodic theory and analysis. Ergodic theory concerns the qualitative long-term behaviour of iteration of chaotic systems and the fine structure (such as fractal dimension) of invariant sets.

He is also interested in schools outreach and public engagement activities within mathematics. He co-founded and co-run the Alan Turing Cryptography Competition, a web-based competition for school children up to Year 11, with typically 2,000 participants across the UK.

In 2012, he worked with the Manchester Museum to develop a workshop for children in Years 10 and 11 on Turing's work on morphogenesis and mathematical modelling. He also gives numerous talks to sixth formers, either at University open days or in local schools/colleges as part of our University's sixth form lecture series.

Hunting for Earth 2

Keywords: physics, astrophysics, exoplanets

Workshop overview

We will discuss some of the techniques used to find planets around other stars (exoplanets), as well as the latest results in a research field which did not exist 20 years ago. There will be emphasis on concepts and ideas for activities that can be imported into the classroom. 

Presenter biography

Eamonn Kerins obtained his BSc (Hons) degree and PhD in Astronomy from the University of London. Subsequently, he was an EU Marie Curie Research Fellow at Strasbourg Observatory, and then a postdoctoral researcher in the Theoretical Physics department at the University of Oxford. He was awarded a PPARC/STFC Advanced Fellowship from 2004 to 2009, initially working at Liverpool John Moores University and then subsequently at The University of Manchester.

His current research concentrates around gravitational-lensing searches for exoplanets as well as large-scale surveys for variable stars in the inner galaxy. He co-lead the Exoplanet Science Working Group for the European Space Agency’s Euclid mission, which is due to launch in 2020. 

A physics approach to modelling the heart

Keywords: physics, biology, modelling, healthcare, medicine

Workshop overview

Modelling organ function and dysfunction is a topic of great interest in the world of medicine. Such models provide a flexible platform to enhance our understanding of biological systems without endangering living patients.

Physicists are trained to solve complex problems by breaking them down into simple components; a skill that in recent years has become greatly sought after in the fields of biology and medicine due to the complexity of living systems. The rapid increase in computing power we have experienced over the last couple of decades is enabling us to make unprecedented progress in this field.

Presenter biography

Michael Colman’s current research interests lie at the interface of physics and biomedical science. He seeks to apply techniques currently used in theoretical physics to improve the sophistication and relevance of mathematical models of biological systems, primarily focusing on the heart and the mechanisms of atrial fibrillation, the world’s most common cardiac disorder.

PhD: Biological Physics, The University of Manchester, 2012.
MPhys: Physics with Theoretical Physics, The University of Manchester, 2008.