Pint of Science

Pint of Science Podcast - Prof. Jeff Forshaw - Particle Physicist [Episode 9]

May 13, 2019

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Episode  - Professor Jeff Forshaw

There’s stuff everywhere. It’s there when you look out the window, it’s there when you’re doing your groceries, it’s even there when you look up into the night sky. But where did all the stuff come from, and what is it made of? What would happen if you broke something down into it’s constituent parts, and then broke those down, and then broke those down? How far could you go?

No, this isn’t a Philomena Cunk episode, this is particle physics with Jeff Forshaw, Professor of Particle Physics at the University of Manchester. His research sees him crunching the data from some of the world’s most fascinating particle physics experiments, and looking for hidden gems of information about the tiny building blocks of our universe.

We found ourselves in the Salutation Pub in Manchester yet again for a lovely chat and a pint (or three) with Jeff, trying to answer the question of whether matter really matters, or if we were quarking up the wrong tree… We talked about whether the Large Hadron Collider could create a black hole (spoiler alert: no), becoming a professor at the tender age of 36, and what it’s like to write books with Brian Cox.

Welcome back to the Pint of Science podcast. Each week, we meet scientists in pubs around the UK to find out about their lives, their universe, and everything. From *how* fruit flies love to *why* humans love, via jumping into volcanoes, winning Olympic medals, where we came from and more!

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The Pint of Science podcast is a part of the Pint of Science Festival, the world's largest science communication festival. Thousands of guests and speakers descend on pubs in hundreds of cities worldwide to introduce science in a fun, engaging, and usually pint-fuelled way.

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About Jeff Forshaw, this week’s guest:

After his teenage years in the Northwest building his own golf rankings, Jeff Forshaw took his considerable talents to Oriel College, Oxford, where he earned a first class degree in physics, followed by a PhD in Theoretical Physics from the University of Manchester. His PhD thesis was on ‘the parton content of the photon and photon-induced minijets’, and no that’s not about Dolly Parton or tiny planes, we checked.

Following his PhD, Jeff found himself back in Oxfordshire as a postdoctoral researcher under renowned particle physicist Frank Close. A move back to Manchester saw him becoming professor of particle physics at the young age of 36, where he now looks at data from some of the world’s most important particle physics experiments, including the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva. Jeff met fellow Manchester prof Brian Cox when he lectured Brian on Advanced Quantum Field Theory (despite being around the same age), and they have since written a series of critically-acclaimed popular science books together, including Why does E=MC2?, The Quantum Universe, and Universal: a guide to the cosmos.

He’s also consulted for a host of TV programmes. His public engagement work earned him the Kelvin Medal and Prize for outstanding contribution to public understanding of physics in 2013. For a glimpse of Jeff in action, here’s a clip of him on Newsround explaining why the Higg’s Boson is like cosmic treacle (let’s face it, a children’s news show is about our level for particle physics).  

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