Category Archives: CAP Congress 2013

Condensed-matter cosmology and spin wires

Waterloo, here I come (Courtesy: IQC)

Waterloo, here I come. (Courtesy: IQC)

By Hamish Johnston at the 2013 CAP Congress in Montreal

Yesterday morning I was back at the University of Montreal for more physics at the Canadian Association of Physicists Congress. I started off the morning with a bit of quantum cosmology and quantum gravity with a distinct hint of condensed-matter physics.

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The race to find the electric dipole moment

The University of Montreal actually has an ivory tower!

Congress HQ: the University of Montreal actually has an ivory tower!

By Hamish Johnston at the 2013 CAP Congress in Montreal

Yesterday I had lunch with Jeff Martin of the University of Winnipeg, who is a member of an international team that aims to measure the electric dipole moment (EDM) of the neutron at TRIUMF in Vancouver.

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What happened to nuclear electrons?

By Hamish Johnston at the 2013 CAP Congress in Montreal

Sometimes I think that physicists can dwell too much in the past. Scientific papers, for example, often begin with a potted history of the field and it’s only in the second page that something new is mentioned.

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The first medical X-ray…

By Hamish Johnston at the 2013 CAP Congress in Montreal

Jean Barrette has one of the best jobs in the world as far as I am concerned. The retired nuclear physicist is curator of the McPherson Collection of physics instruments at McGill University here in Montreal.

jean-barrette-200px

Jean Barrette has a great job.

This morning in the “History of Physics” session at the Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) Congress, Jean gave a talk that featured many of the beautiful experiments – lots of brass and polished hardwood – in the collection.

The collection was made possible by the Canadian physicist Anna McPherson, who left a sizeable sum to the university when she died in 1979.

One of the highlights of the talk was what is surely the first-ever medical X-ray, which was taken in 1896 just six months after X-rays were first discovered. Taken at McGill, it shows a bullet lodged in the leg of a shooting victim.

During his talk, Jean asked for help in identifying a mysterious piece of apparatus in the collection that so far he had not been able to identify. Jean is going to send me a picture and I’ll post it in an upcoming blog entry.

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