Magnificent Maths and Phenomenal Physics Event: Open Day

Abstract art of universe with physics detailing
Public lectures / seminars / Prospective student event

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Saturday 18 March 2023

10:00 AM - 04:00 PM


Elm Bank, Coventry University, Mile Lane, Coventry, CV1 2LQ. Registration has now closed.

Ever wondered what maths and physics researchers really do? Interested to see how science at Coventry University is changing lives? If so, then our magnificent maths and phenomenal physics event is for you.

The event sees Coventry University’s research Centre for Fluid and Complex Systems (FCS) open its doors to the general public for the first time, with experiments, science shows, talks, and more.

Visitors can observe the “little earth” experiment, understand how we predict storms and weather patterns, get a glimpse into the revolution of quantum computing, and the mathematics of social interactions

Anyone with a passion for science is welcome (Recommended Age 12+). Come and meet our scientists and explore the world through their eyes for one day only.

Feel free to drop in at any point during the day to explore the world of maths and physics. Find out more about travelling to FCS.

Session details

Experts will be delivering various demonstrations open to all throughout the day, including:

  • Fluids travel in two ways, either gently like honey out of a pot, these flows are 'laminar', or erratically changing direction in seemingly incoherent and unpredictable way, like a mountain stream, these are 'turbulent'.

    What is fascinating is that even in simple flows such as those inside the plumbing pipes of our houses, fluids can spontaneously switch between these two behaviours. They can even behave in both ways at the same time!

    Yet laminar and turbulent flows are everywhere. When in one or the other state, the drag on planes, boats, cars, how much power is needed to pump fluid through a pipe etc can be very small for laminar flows or enormous for turbulent flow. So what makes flows turbulent or laminar?

    Can we control flows into one or the other states to suit our needs? To glimpse into these questions, you will run a fluid flow down our 12m long transparent pipe where ultra-fast cameras and LASERS will reveal the detail of how the flows choose to be either turbulent or laminar...

  • The earth evolves, its rotation slows down, its magnetic field travels and even reverses, the centre of the Earth releases heat through its layers and into space. 

    But what determines how these processes evolve? How does our planet work?  The little earth experiment (LEE) is a laboratory model of what goes on inside the earth!  Just like the Earth, LEE is a rotating device, with a solid core, surrounded by a liquid core.

    Key to this is what goes on inside the liquid, but unlike the Earth, LEE is transparent, so we can visualise how the movement of the spinning liquid changes and carries heat away. Come and operate LEE with us! Change its spinning rate, how much heat its core releases, and discover the flow patterns that decide how this little model-planet evolves....

  • Many of the characteristic patterns that we see in the atmosphere and oceans on Earth, but other planets such as Jupiter, are due to rotating convection.

    Convection is the motion of air or any other gas or liquid caused by density differences. For example, warm air has a lower density than cold air, so the warm air rises while the cold air sinks. In addition, all planets rotate. Hence, ocean and wind currents get deflected, which then leads to circulation patterns. See how we simulate these patterns with our simple experiment.

  • The earth's interior cools over time as heat leaves to outer space. This difference in temperature leads to a constant motion inside the earth's mantle: The cold dense fluid sinks down towards the centre and the hot less dense fluid floats up towards the surface. This process is known as convection. It is very similar to what happens to water in a pot on the stove. The only difference is that inside Earth, convection happens on time scales of millions of years. Fortunately, we can simulate this in seconds on a computer.  This helps us to understand plate tectonics and earthquakes.

    Here you get the chance to play with convection on a computer yourself.

  • In this demonstration we show how to fight the force of gravity to slow the fall of an object.  It is what is used to slow roller coasters and electric cars.  Using a magnet and conductive metal tube Eddy currents can be generated which slow the magnet.

  • Just over 200 years ago Michael Faraday built the first primitive motor.  It was only a demonstration at the time but now the world is full of motors; in the home, in transport, in the office and factory.  This very first one was only a demonstration of principles, William Sturgeon later turned it into a practical device.  See how Faraday first demonstrated technology that is central to our modern world. 

  • In this presentation we take you from the fundamentals of quantum physics to the goddesses of Irish mythology in a short few minutes – and explain how they’re connected! Atoms interact to form materials, similarly people interact to form societies, and characters interact to form stories. 

    Atoms can’t flow but water can; a person can’t form an entire culture, but a society can.  Flowing and culture are examples of “emergent phenomena” and we use concepts like these to “measure” stories. 

    In this way, we can compare one story to another and ask how alike or unalike they are. We use this to address “fake news” from 250 years ago that has re-emerged as relevant today: attempts to ``steal’’ Ireland’s mythology back then and attempts to do similar to Ukraine’s mythology now.

    We end the presentation by inviting you to enter an arts competition.  The competition aims to raise awareness of female figures from Irish mythology who were overwritten 250 years ago and are still forgotten today.

  • We are all familiar with filling up a car – the pump tells us how many litres of fuel we’ve received, and we pay. But how do we know we can trust the measurement? And when there’s more at stake, such as fuelling a ship, or even putting carbon dioxide into underground storage, it’s more important to know that we can trust the flow. This talk will explain how the latest flow measurement technology ensures we get what we paid for.

  • Some fluids are difficult to measure, especially mixtures of liquid and gas. This is a common challenge in the energy industry, for example oil, water, gas emerging from a well, or gas, liquid carbon-dioxide being stored underground. This demo shows how researchers develop better mixture meters, based in the newly completed flow laboratory at the Centre for Fluid and Complex Systems. 

  • We are surrounded by fluids that flow. From the very small scale, such as inkjet printing technology or bacteria swimming in microscale, to the medium scale, such as gas flowing in pipes to our homes, to the gigantic scale such as global atmospheric circulation.

    This interactive poster aims to illustrate how broadly fluid flow plays key roles on various systems with different length scales and to emphasise the importance of fluid dynamics in many naturally-occurring and engineering systems.

  • From physics and maths to engineering is a demonstration of how physical and mathematical concepts are applied to create modern autonomous machines.

    As robots are a splendid example to illustrate such a process, we play with a group of four self-balance robots.

    We run two experiments, one where a self-balance robot moves to follow a target and another where a group of self-balance robots create a train-like formation. After discussing the main ideas behind this robotic system setting up, the audience will have the basis for understanding modern self-driving cars or mobile robots working principles.


  • This talk will explain the basics of fusion energy; what the underlying physics is and some of the difficulties associated with it.

    There will be plenty of accompanying pictures and videos to show of working fusion reactors, which will demonstrate what impressive machines they are. There will also be an overview of the exciting state-of-the-art work being done.