Presented by: 
Prof Ross McKenzie
Tue 17 Aug, 6:00 pm
Parnell Building, Room 222, UQ

Johannes van der Waals received the Nobel Prize in Physics exactly one hundred years ago "for his work on the equation of state for gases and liquids". van der Waals' equation was impressive because it provided a unified framework to understand and quantitatively describe a wide range of experimental data on a diverse set of gases. However, it can be argued that van der Waals' work actually had a much greater significance in that it led to some of the most important concepts in theoretical physics and experimental discoveries in the twentieth century. The former include the concepts of universality and that ofeffective interactions mediated by virtual quantum transitions. The latter include the liquification of helium and the discovery of superconductivity and superfluidity. The lecture is meant for a general audience and so will only contain one equation, the van der Waals equation of state. Cool videos will be shown of relevant experiments.

Ross McKenzie is an Australian Professorial Fellow in the School of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Queensland. He completed undergraduate work at the Australian National University and a Ph.D in Physics at Princeton University. His research concerns using quantum many-body theory to describe complex materials ranging from fluorescent proteins to superconducting organic crystals. At UQ he teaches undergraduates at UQ about the van der Waals equation. He also writes a blog at