Talking ‘big science’ in Oxford

February seems like a decade ago now — thanks to a broken collar bone I suffered on the bike later that month and now the worldwide shutdown due to COVID-19.

On 22 February, I headed to Oxford for a one-day meeting about “big science” in physics that was organised by the St Cross Centre for the History and Philosophy of Physics at Oxford University.

Held in the Martin Wood Lecture theatre at the Department of Physics, the meeting, which was open to the public, covered the past, present and future of big science.

I was invited to give the closing talk covering what we can expect to look forward to in the coming decade from big science facilities in physics.

In the talk, which you can view above, I also offered a few predictions for the decade ahead (“brave”, one person said to me afterwards) — one of which was that astronauts will return to the Moon.

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, it looks likey that some of those predictions may now not happen in the coming ten years. So, I have learnt at least one thing since the talk — things can change very quickly. Another being not to make predictions in the first place.

Author: Michael Banks

UK science journalist

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