The lecture was introduced by Professor Alan Barr, Tutor in Physics and Professor of Particle Physics at the University of Oxford, and was followed by a Q&A session.
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Tales from a decade of trying to explain how physics can be applied to generate wealth and build a better society.
Breakthroughs in physics form the foundation of much of the world’s economy today. Oxford Instruments, the first commercial spin-out from the University of Oxford, has, over 50 years, provided researchers and industrialists with the scientific tools to enable applied research and facilitate efficient production using advanced technologies that have been developed from that research. As a publicly-listed company on the London Stock Market, Oxford Instruments has access to funds from the capital markets and is owned by its shareholders. However, most of its shareholders are not scientists and many City investors struggle with understanding basic scientific principles. If you should "only invest in what you understand", why should people invest in complex-technology companies? How far should you simplify science for the non-experts and still expect them to make informed decisions? Is a little understanding better than none? Over the past ten years as Chief Executive of Oxford Instruments, a big part of my role has been to explain how I believe scientific advances will drive societal change and yield sound investment opportunities. I will give examples of some the technological instruments designed and manufactured by Oxford Instruments, and how I have endeavoured to explain them, sometimes successfully and sometimes not.
The Ockham Lecture series
The Merton College Physics Lecture (the Ockham, or Occam, Lecture, so named in honour of one of the greatest—if unattested—alumni of the College and of his philosophical principle of intellectual discipline) started in 2009 and is held once a term. It is organised by the physics tutors of the College to promote both intellectual curiosity and social cohesion of the Merton Physics community.
Attendance is by invitation: All Merton physicists (and sympathisers!) belonging to the three Common Rooms (JCR, MCR and SCR) are invited, as are the Old Members. Their guests are also accommodated, space permitting.