The frontiers of physics: From planets to photons

Professor David Jamieson takes us on a journey of his research in physics; from the history of Galileo’s discoveries to quantum computing

Dr Andi Horvath

Published 7 August 2019

Episode 60

Physics is sometimes described in terms of two frontiers, says Professor Jamieson, a physicist at the University of Melbourne and Chief Investigator of the Victorian node of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computer Technology.

“One frontier is cosmological. You look out into the abyss of space, an enormous scale of space and time.”

“So that’s a journey into the wide frontier as we explore the cosmos with evermore powerful telescopes and use the laws of physics as the guide to understand what we see.”

He says that the other frontier is the inward bound, the frontier into the subatomic - that is, the atomic and subatomic building blocks of matter.

This research is providing new insights into the way the world works and so has unlocked the potential of quantum technologies, like quantum computing, with its enormous potential.

“We have the standard model for particle physics that seems to explain, very successfully, the way matter works and interacts, but there are some nagging loose ends that need to be tidied up,” Professor Jamieson says.

“We have the precedent that 110 years ago, Einstein tugged at the loose ends dangling out of classical physics and he caused it all to unravel… and that has set us on a new journey into relativity and quantum mechanics that we’re still travelling on today.”

Episode recorded: July 16, 2019.

Interviewer: Dr Andi Horvath.

Producer, audio engineer & editor: Chris Hatzis.

Co-production: Silvi Vann-Wall & Dr Andi Horvath.

Banner image: Shutterstock

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