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Bristol physicists get knotted at Orkney International Science Festival

Keith Alexander and Mark Dennis demonstrate at Orkney Science Festival.

16 September 2015

On a Monday evening in early September, Bristol theorists Keith Alexander and Professor Mark Dennis explained to a packed audience how knots appear in physical science. Topics covered, from knotted whirlpools of water to topological quantum field theory, highlighted Bristol research on knotted optical vortices and tangled protein configurations.

The lecture, in Kirkwall, Orkney, in the far north of Scotland, recreated a demonstration of smoke rings first given by P G Tait in the 19th century, which led Lord Kelvin to his theory of knotted vortex atoms.  Bristol research on knots in physics is currently funded by a £1.7 million Leverhulme Programme Grant, shared with Durham University.

This year's Orkney International Science Festival celebrates the International Year of Light and its own 25th anniversary.  Presentations involved speakers from around the world, including Nobel laureate Peter Higgs, Emeritus Professor at the University of Edinburgh.

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