What happens when artists attend lectures on particle physics? Jiggling Atoms! This project about illustrating abstract concepts from the often surprising world of physics, we believe that in order to tackle this task, there is no need to become a physicist. But one needs to understand how physicists develop these concepts and what they mean to them. This is the reason why we set up the Jiggling Atoms lecture series that takes our group of artists on a journey from the conceptual foundations of science to the sometimes crazy world of elementary particles. Here, nobody gets to do physics. Instead, we’d like to think of the lectures as a few musicians explaining their favourite songs to a group of interested listeners. You don’t need to be able to play the songs yourself in order to understand a few exciting moments in them and get inspired!

1. What do physicists do all day?


Many textbooks or university courses on basic physics begin with Sir Isaac Newton’s work on the motion of objects. But Jiggling Atoms isn’t your ordinary introduction to physics! In this lecture we begin by asking: ‘What do physicists actually do all day?’ introducing the philosophical concepts behind science and giving a glimpse of how present-day research works. Read more.

2. How Newton stole physics


In this lecture we delve a bit deeper into physics-in-action, looking at what maths is for, and what it means in physics. We look at what is meant by ‘position,’ ‘motion,’ ‘acceleration,’ ‘forces’ and ‘energy’, and begin to explain how interactions that we can observe can be described using the language of mathematics, begining with the work of Newton. Read more.

3. Waves, particles, particles and waves
(How Huygens and Planck stole physics back)


In this lecture things get weird! We talk about the absolutely riveting subjects of electromagnetism and quantum mechanics, and illustrate the discoveries that resulted in a full-blown scientific revolution. Read more.

4. Matter


What do atoms look like? Physicists have changed their model of the atom as technological developments have enabled evermore accurate experiments. This lecture explores the ingenious discoveries that took place over the last few centuries and which made our (scientific) view of material reality what it is today, piecing together the concepts from the previous three lectures Read more.

5. Particle physics with Dr. Ben Still


The fifth lecture covers all aspects of particle physics, first of all looking at methods used to “see” the invisible. The particles that are the building blocks of matter are too small to be seen directly. Instead we must piece together their behaviour from the influence they have on things around them, seen through the electromagnetic force in ionisation, the excitation of atoms, or through emission of something called ‘Cherenkov radiation.’ This lecture looks at how this influence can be recorded by different technologies and the properties of the particles measured. Read more.