Physical World – Junior Cycle Topics


William Thomson and the Story of Units & Measurement

William Thomson was born in Belfast in 1824. Most people know him as Lord Kelvin, a physicist whose work helped to formulate the laws of thermodynamics. He is best known for calculating ‘absolute zero’ and so, the unit of temperature Kelvin (K) was named after him. Through the story of William Thomson, we’ll explore the measurement of physical quantities in physics.

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Fabiola Gianotti and the Story of Motion

Fabiola Gianotti is an Italian particle physicist who holds one of the most important jobs in the scientific world. Gianotti is the director-general of CERN – European Organization for Nuclear Research. In CERN, subatomic particles are smashed into each other at very high speeds with the hope of recreating the conditions of the big bang. Through the story of Fabiola Gianotti, we’ll explore the physics of motion.

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Lise Meitner and the Story of Energy

Lise Meitner was an Austrian-Swedish physicist who worked on radioactivity and nuclear physics. In 1939 Meitner was part of a group of scientists who discovered nuclear fission. In doing so, she helped create nuclear power plants (and unfortunately nuclear weapons). Through the story of Lise Meitner, we’ll explore energy in its many forms.

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Anneke Levelt Sengers and the Story of Heat

Anneke Levelt Sengers is a Dutch physicist who is known for her work on thermodynamics, heat and critical states of fluids. Through the story of Anneke Levelt Sengers, we’ll explore the physics of heat and show it can be created and converted to other forms of energy.

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Donna Strickland and the Story of Light

In 2018, Donna Strickland became only the 3rd woman in history to win the Nobel prize in physics. She was awarded the prize for inventing a way of making pulses of laser light with high power and short duration. Through Donna’s story, we’re going to explore the nature of light and see how she won the biggest prize in physics.

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Dorte Hammershøi and the Story of Sound

Dorte Hammershoi is a Danish professor in electronic systems. She works in the field of human-sound perception, which includes electro-acoustics, hearing damage and the measurement of noise sources close to the ear. Through the story of Dorte Hammershoi, we will explore the physics of sound.

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Joan Feynman and the Story of Magnetism

Joan Feynman is an American astrophysicist who is best known for developing an understanding of auroras (what we call the northern lights). Feynman has spent her life studying the physics of the earth’s magnetic field and how it interacts with the sun’s energy. Through the story of Joan Feynman, we’ll explore the physics of magnetism.

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Isaac Newton and the Story of Forces & Work

Isaac Newton was an English mathematician, physicist and astronomer who is widely considered to be the most influential scientist of all time. He is best known for having an apple fall on his head (which didn’t really happen) but his work in physics and maths went much further than discovering gravity. Through the story of Isaac Newton, we’ll explore the physics of forces and work and understand how Newton’s insights changed the world.

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Shanti Deemyad and the Story of Pressure

Shanti Deemyad is an associate professor in physics in the University of Utah. Deemyad is an experimental physicist whose research is focused on studying matter at extreme conditions of pressure and temperature. Through the story of Shanti Deemyad, we’ll explore the physics of pressure.

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John Philip Holland and the Story of Density & Flotation

John Philip Holland came from Liscannor, Co. Clare and is best known for developing the world’s first submarine. Originally a maths teacher, he started to think about how a submarine could work – he worked out the physics involved and designed and tested it successfully. Through the story of  John Philip Holland, we’ll explore the physics of density and flotation.

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Edith Clarke and the Story of Electricity

In 1918, Edith Clarke broke through a male-dominated field to become the first female electrical engineer in America. Clarke specialised in power system analysis and wrote influential books on electricity. Through the story of Edith Clarke, we’ll explore the physics involved in electricity – how it’s generated and how it changed the world.

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Nikola Tesla and the Story of Electricity in the Home

Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American electrical engineer and inventor. He is best known for inventing alternating current (AC) which allowed for electricity to be generated and supplied across long distances. He was famously in a feud with American inventor Thomas Edison (who believed DC current was better). Eventually Tesla won and the world now has running electricity because of him. Through the story of Nikola Tesla, we will explore electricity in the home.

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