Visiting Physics Professor

“My name is Tom Brown and I build lasers.”

With these words, Dr Tom Brown, of St Andrews University, Scotland, kicked off his 2011 lecture at GSIS. For the next hour, he entertained an audience of senior science students from both the English and German Secondary Departments with an overview of some cutting-edge research topics with which he has recently been associated. Young physicists love the exotic aspects of the subject, particularly the very small and the very large, as the behaviour of nature at these scales is so utterly different to that with which we are familiar. Tom ranged across thirty or more orders of magnitude in size, from controlling the positions of single molecules using laser pulses to techniques for detecting Earth-sized planets orbiting stars other than our Sun.

Tom has been putting on his show at our school for several years now and this audience was probably his most responsive. Andrew Guthrie, a Year 13 student who is continuing his studies in physics and has included St Andrews in his applications for an undergraduate place, said, “Dr Brown’s talk was extremely informative regarding both the nature of his own research and the student lifestyle at the University of St Andrews.  As a prospective student of Physics, hearing about Dr Brown’s current research has certainly made me eager to start my own course, and hopefully continue on to my PhD.” Tom returned the compliment, saying, “It was a real pleasure to meet your enthusiastic and interested students [and] I hope to be back again next year.”

He signed off with, “Best wishes from a cold, dark Scotland” so a few years at the third-oldest university in the English-speaking world might appeal to those of you Hongkongers who love to crank up the air conditioning in our mild winters!

John Shearman,
Head of Physics, ESD.