insight4me Engineering: Practical Applications of Physics Principles

Thursday 2 December 12-1pm

Join lecturers from the University of Glasgow and University of Sheffield for a session on the Practical Applications of Physics Principles. Each University will deliver a 30 minute talk on the following subjects:

University of Glasgow – ‘From Newton, to Wright and then Flight …’

The principles of flight are based on some of the fundamental laws of physics, from Newtons Laws of Motion to Conservation of Energy, and involves many aspects of science from materials, thermodynamics, mechanics and fluid dynamics. Early aviation pioneers such as the Wright Brothers recognised that particular shapes could use conservation of energy and increasing air speed to generate lift. Also, using Newton’s laws of motion, the motion of the aircraft can be understood and controlled. Modern jet engines also work based on Newton’s laws to generate thrust. Modern materials science allows aircraft structures to be made light yet strong, a key requirement for aircraft. Aerospace engineers apply these principles routinely, and significant advances in scientific knowledge have allowed us develop the high performance and efficient aircraft and spacecraft that are currently in our skies. However, it is not always easy – as the jet engine pioneer Sir Frank Whittle once said “The idea was the easy part – getting it to work was the difficult bit”.

University of Sheffield – ‘Red Light LEDs’

Red LEDs were invented nearly sixty years ago, but it was not until a few years ago that the blue LED arrived. The co-inventors of the blue LED were awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize for Physics, since it was recognised that if you have blue light, then you can make white light. These LEDs have produced a lighting revolution, where they are replacing the less-efficient incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. I will explain the physics behind these tiny devices and also suggest how they may soon be giving us an even better internet connection.

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First published: 8 November 2021