02/2020: Low T (H v d Vliet)

Place and Time:
Abingdon, Thursday 20 Feburary 2020 from 19:00 for 19:30
King Charles Room, King’s Head and Bell, (10 E St Helen St, Abingdon OX14 5EA)

TITLE: Ultra-low temperatures – pushing the boundaries of engineering

The coldest natural place in our universe is in the centre of the Boomerang nebula, at 1 Kelvin (-272.15 °C). It is relatively unknown that here on earth, scientific research is routinely done at temperatures 2 orders of magnitude colder than this! At Oxford Instruments we create a low temperature environment for industries and universities to push the boundaries of science and enable quantum technologies, nano technology research and materials characterisation at 10 mK and below, at the push of a button.

In this talk I will discuss how ultra-low temperatures can be achieved, how we conduct research in these extreme environments, the applications and reasons behind going so cold and most importantly (to someone who spent 4 years of their PhD measuring temperature), how we measure the temperature of such an environment


Harriet van der Vliet is a quantum engineer at Oxford Instruments Nanoscience and worked in Tubney Woods for the last two and a half years. She work in the NPI (new product introduction) team  to develop the next generation of low temperature systems predominantly for use by researchers and industries working in quantum technologies and fundamental science. Currently, she is developing a cryogenic link to connect two cryostats as part of the European Quantum Flagship project, QMiCS – Quantum Microwave Communication and Sensing. This will be used at the Walter Meissner Institute for research towards quantum microwave communications.

During her first year at Oxford Instruments, she was chosen to go on secondment to the United States to work at another Oxford Instruments business, Asylum Research in Santa Barbara, to develop my management and commercial skills and experience working in a different culture.

Prior to working at Oxford instruments, she completed a PhD at Royal Holloway, University of London in the London Low Temperature Laboratory, working with the coldest electrons in the world and measuring their temperature directly! She not only had the coldest electrons in the world, but also (unofficially) one of the longest PhD thesis titles – Platforms for new quantum technologies – Addressing the challenges in cooling and exploring the properties of strongly correlated electron systems, using current sensing noise thermometry. Seh also held some post graduate research positions at Royal Holloway as part of the European Microkelvin Platform and InK – Implementing the New Kelvin.

01/2020: LHC (T. Huffman)

Place and Time:
Abingdon, Thursday 16 January 2020 from 19:00 for 19:30
King Charles Room, King’s Head and Bell, (10 E St Helen St, Abingdon OX14 5EA)

TITLE: CERN and the Profoundly Unknown

In 2012 two of the major experiments at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN discovered the Higgs boson. The two experiments are called “CMS” and “ATLAS” and I work with the ATLAS experiment. This was the last major prediction of the “Standard Model” of particle physics.

The accelerator though, has not stopped running since then. And in fact the energy of the beams has almost doubled. So what is it that we are doing? And why are we doing it?

In this presentation I hope to explain why we are continuing to look at this data through the window of my own research efforts which do still centre around the Higgs boson. I will explain about the Higgs and how we search for it. I will then explain why it is important to now search for cases where we produce two or more Higgs bosons at the same time. I will show the results we have obtained so far and then also talk about the immediate future of the Large Hadron Collider and where this kind of fundamental physics goes from here.


Todd Huffman is a professor of physics at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall. His research is in particle physics and focusses on discovering new particles and forces at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Prof. Huffman’s current research is focused on the search for events that occurred within the LHC which produced two Higgs bosons…so-called “diHiggs” events.

Prof. Huffman received an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Nebraska in the United States, the University that is in the state where he spent his childhood. He worked as an apprentice engineer for General Motors corporation as a co-operative student in order to obtain sufficient funds to top-up his scholarships for his undergraduate degree. He obtained a Fellowship moved to studying Physics in graduate school at Purdue University in Indiana where he received his Masters degree and then, in 1992, his Ph.D. in Physics.

From there his post-doctoral career was as a researcher in Particle Physics based at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory just outside of Chicago Illinois but working for the University of Pittsburgh. In 1997 he accepted a “Research Officer” position at Oxford and came to the UK, but one year later a full lectureship opened up to which he applied and won in 1998 in association with Lady Margaret Hall, where he has stayed first bringing Oxford into a collaboration at Fermilab and then joining the ATLAS experiment at CERN.

12/2019: Christmas Social

Members and their guests will meet for our yearly Christmas Social on 5th December at the King’s Head and Bell at 19:30. There will be a buffets and tickets (which are sponsored by the society) are £5 per person and are on sale at October and November meetings or by emailing the secretary. Drinks will have to be bought from the bar.

11/2019: AGM & Talk: Sustainable Farming (N. Rowe)

 Place and Time: Abingdon, Thursday 21 November 2019 from 19:00 for 19:30

King Charles Room, King’s Head and Bell, (10 E St Helen St, Abingdon OX14 5EA)

The evening will start with a short AGM followed by a talk.

AGM Agenda

  1. Apologies for absence
  2. Minutes of last meeting
  3. Matters arising
  4. Chairman’s Report
  5. Treasurer’s Report
  6. Elections
    1.  Officers
      1. Chair
      2. Secretary
      3. Treasurer
    2. Ordinary Members
  7. Atom Festival
  8. Christmas Party
  9. Ideas for 2020
  10. Any Other Business

Talk TITLE: Sustainable Farming

Never has the debate surrounding the causes and effects of Climate Change been more intense, with powerful interests and lobby’s controlling the narrative. The world’s Farmers and their Cows are a soft target often blamed for a significant contributions to man-made climate change. The speaker would like to present an alternative model of livestock production: ” Speaking on behalf of the Cow”. Maybe the problem are the choices forced on farmers and cows by external powers? Maybe we as a consumer could be the answer?

Speaker: Neil Rowe

Neil has 40 years’ experience managing high performance beef and dairy farms, working with both conventional and organic systems. In 2004 was awarded a Nuffield scholarship to study ‘Voluntary milking systems and automated milk harvesting’. He has a reputation for innovation, sustainable farming and knowledge transfer, being a regular speaker at conferences and farmer meetings. For the last ten years alongside farm management Neil has been providing Agricultural consultancy to farmers and industry. In the last 5 years he has been a finalist or winner in 3 national awards and for 25 years he has been an Ambassador for the charity “Send a Cow”.