Science Festival Interview with Dr Michal Michalowski
Dr Michal Michalowski of the University's School of Physics and Astronomy will share some secrets of how stars are formed in Physics to Blow Your Mind.
Physics to Blow Your Mind takes place at the Summerhall Anatomy Lecture Theatre at 3pm on Sunday 3 April at the National Museum of Scotland.
What can people coming along to your event expect to experience?
This will be an entertaining tale of how stars are formed, an important process which started shortly after the Big Bang, and is continuing today. The talk will be understandable at all levels of knowledge of physics.
What do you hope participants can get out of coming along?
Firstly, I would like all participants to learn how exactly stars are born – what material is required, what physical processes are involved, and how we can learn about them. Secondly, I will highlight some recent research development in this field.
Why is this an important time to be talking about astronomy?
Astronomy develops very fast and each year we discover new objects and phenomena, so every year is a good time to describe these new findings to the public. Discovery is accelerated nowadays, because many large astronomical observational facilities have been built or launched into space, such as the ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array), Herschel Space Observatory, and the Large Millimetre Telescope.
Why is taking part in the science festival important to you?
The science festival is a perfect way to reach the public in order to promote science in general, and my research in particular.
Why is it important that the University plays a role in the science festival?
I believe that promoting science should be one of the main aims of any university.
Do you find it challenging to engage with the public?
No, not really. It requires avoiding using jargon and other complex formalism, but it is not problematic for me. I have long had a lot of experience with public engagement, because when I meet people, also in an informal setting, they are usually quite interested in what I am doing.
What impact does your work have on society?
In the same way as we want to understand the formation of the planet we are living on, the Earth, we also want to understand the formation of stars, including the Sun, and the evolution of the entire Universe. Additionally, I hope that the presentation of work will help to attract more students to physics, and to astronomy in particular.
How does your public engagement work affect how you carry out your job?
Public engagement allows me to learn how to present complex research concepts in a less complex way. This actually helps me to be more clear and concise when communicating my research to other scientists in research publications and conference presentations.