• Question: Why is your research important? What are the possible real world applications?

    Asked by AyishaNrdn to Stewart, Miriam, Marton, Laura, Kathryn, David on 9 Nov 2018.
    • Photo: Laura Kent

      Laura Kent answered on 9 Nov 2018:


      Electronics support many industries and making sure they work and are reliable is vital. Electronics are becoming smarter and more powerful all the time and the industry is forever evolving. Its not just for fun things like eVTOLs which are electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles, and jumpers that can charge your phone, but will be useful for medical applications such as implantable electronics as well as security. Electronics will also play an important part in the transition from oil and gas power to more environmentally clean power sources. Electronics have evolved rapidly and its an exciting industry to be involved with!

    • Photo: Stewart Martin-Haugh

      Stewart Martin-Haugh answered on 9 Nov 2018:


      Particle physics is fundamental research: sounds pretentious but it means you don’t care if it has applications or not, when you’re choosing what to study.

      So far this has been successful – you can point to stuff like GPS (needs accurate theory of gravity) or the World Wide Web (invented by CERN people to share information).

      The problem is there’s no guarantee it keeps being successful. In the past, particle physics has always been pushing the edge of computing etc. Now, computing is everywhere: the big tech companies like Google, Facebook, Apple all push tech themselves. There’s still a chance that particle physicists strike lucky again and invent something great, which is why governments give us money. But they give lots of money to other areas of pure and applied science.

      I think if there’s an area I work on that might make a difference, it’s machine learning: this is a hot topic at the moment – it’s the method used for computer facial recognition, search prediction etc. A lot of what’s done is trying to match human performance on problems (like facial recognition) that humans find easy. What I’m trying to apply it to is particle detection, which no human can do. So maybe (BIG maybe) the same techniques will be useful for artificial intelligence.

    • Photo: Marton Olbei

      Marton Olbei answered on 10 Nov 2018:


      My research (in a nutshell) wants to find out how certain bacteria adapt to the animals they infect, and if the way they do it is special to them, or if it’s something universal that can be found in other bacteria-animal relationships.

      The real world applications would be more knowledge about these interactions, and in the future possible new strategies we could use to defend ourselves and our livestock from infections!

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