The MCR organised the first Sidney Sussex Graduate Conference, held on Sunday the 17th of March. The purpose of this event was to give ALL graduate students the opportunity to present their work (or a topic of interest to them) to a general audience.
Selection of speakers
Eight of the submitted abstracts were selected by a panel comprised of the MCR President (William Menz) and the Graduate Tutors. These people were invited to give a presentation at the conference (with or without slides) of 20 minutes with 5 minutes questions (like the Graduate Seminars). They were also awarded £50.
The conference was held on Sunday the 17th of March 2013. All graduate, undergraduate and fellows of the College were invited to attend. The final timetable and full programme for the day are still available.
- Tony Harris·How to fly a helicopterThe recent helicopter accident in central London has opened up the debate about aviation safety and helicopter safety in particular. Yet, the statistics show that you are more likely to have an accident driving to the airfield than when flying a light helicopter. This presentation will explain how helicopters fly, how they are controlled and the stringent regulations surrounding their operation and maintenance. As well as a gentle introduction to basic aerodynamics; the major controls of helicopters and their effects will be discussed, as will their mechanics, cockpit instruments and radio navigation aids. The presentation will conclude with a discussion of the rules of the air, airspace, aviation maps and navigation as well as an insight into the rules surrounding flying the London and Paris Heli lanes. Various videos, photographs and diagrams will give a detailed and engaging overview of what it is like to operate and fly light helicopters in the United Kingdom, USA and greater Europe.
Tony Harris is a mature first year PhD student at Sidney and ASNaC but he is also an experienced private pilot with over 1,000 flying hours. Tony is passionate about flying, holds CAA (UK), ICAO, EASA, and FAA (USA) licenses and is qualified on various light helicopters, single engine and twin engine light aircraft (land and sea). He holds various flying ratings including night and instrument qualifications and an instructor rating for single engine light aircraft. Tony has flown himself to and around such places such as Jerez, Mallorca, Elba, Ireland, the Western Isles of Scotland, the Channel Islands, the Grand Canyon, Catalina, Las Vegas, Munich, Vancouver Island Hannover, Bergen, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Paris and (more recently), the Orkneys and The Shetlands. One day (when coaching Sidney's men's first rowing eight and his studies at Cambridge permit), he hopes to be able to find time to fly again!.....[top]
- Katie Forsyth·"All tragedies are fled from state, to stage": the theatrical and dramatic spaces of the Elizabethan courtWhat role did 'drama' and 'theatricality' play in the court of Elizabeth I? Who were the 'actors' and why were they so keen to make all kinds of space dramatic? And how did this drama help to construct the still-enduring mythology surrounding Elizabeth I?
Dramatic performances in front of Elizabeth I were a common occurrence during her 45 year reign. Elizabeth and her courtiers witnessed many an entertaining revel and play in the great halls of the English nobility and in Elizabeth's royal court in London. On closer inspection these dramatic occasions allowed for a great deal more than entertainment, with such performances allowing courtiers to approach and discuss normally taboo subjects with Elizabeth. However, these conventional theatrical spaces were not the only place in which dramatic performance was to be found in the Elizabethan court: through several case studies of contemporary courtly events, this paper will also explore dramatic performance in the Elizabethan tiltyard and in progress entertainments, considering how these spaces permitted vital courtly definition, negotiation and counsel as well as providing the setting for the creation of many of the characters and motifs found in the 'myth' of Elizabeth I. [top]
- Christopher Crowe·Warp drives, Phasers and Teleportation: The Astrophysics of Star TrekHow close are we to warp travel, and where would we want to go in the Universe? Will teleportation or time travel with wormholes ever be feasible? What is the probability of finding intelligent life out there, and would we need our phasers?
Many of the ideas featured in Star Trek are originally based on real-life scientific theories. Warp travel (the Alcubierre Drive) is entirely within the remit of Einstein's General Relativity. In the last few years, researchers at Cambridge and further afield have discovered hundreds of planets orbiting distant stars, opening up the tantalising prospect of discovering life on other worlds. Also at Cambridge, quantum teleportation on small scales has been tested and could bring about a new era of information transfer.
The author will assess what is and isn't possible according to the laws of physics, among all the weird and wonderful things that Kirk, Spock, Picard and Worf got up to in their parallel universes.[top]
- Yangchen Lin·The Science and Art of a Fish's Eye View of the WorldWe have long been obsessed with the scientific and artistic facets of a fish's eye view of the world. In the realm of science, the eyes of fishes have been found to differ from those of humans in a number of ways, most obviously in their shape and in the constituent materials more suited for underwater use. In art, the distinctive spherical projection characteristic of a fish's eye was manifested in the famous artwork of M. C. Escher beginning in the early 20th century, and we continue to express our artistic desires in spherical geometry today, largely through the use of fisheye lenses in photography. Using examples from my own work, I will explain how the distortion created by fisheyes may facilitate or detract from the artistic message of an image. I will next provide a layman-digestible overview of the fascinating mathematics, materials science and engineering of ingenious man-made optical systems that mimic a fish's vision. Despite the technology, it remains a challenge to make artificial lenses that approach the optical quality of the eye of a real fish. Nevertheless, precisely made fisheye lenses with documented optical characteristics have great scientific value in widely varying disciplines that have contributed much to our understanding of the world in which we live. I will describe some of the interesting scientific applications of fisheyes in sometimes extreme environments.[top]
- Scott Stephenson·SimCity: Government Edition - Human Rights, Democracy and DisagreementImagine you're playing 'SimCity', the megalomaniacal 90s-era computer game where you're responsible for planning a city and managing its development. Only it's 'SimCity: Government Edition'. In this version, you're responsible not only for building roads and zoning land but also for creating the rules and institutions that govern the people in your city. Assume you're a beneficent creator who wants a society characterised by equality, fairness, justice and respect.
Initially, your citizens demand democracy, so you empower them to choose representatives to sit in a parliament and enact the laws that govern society. But then disaster strikes! Not an earthquake or a monster (as in the original version of SimCity), but terrorism. Parliamentarians respond with security laws that allow the police to arrest people without strong evidence and detain them for long periods of time.
Unhappy, your citizens demand protection for their fundamental freedoms, so you empower judges to invalidate laws that infringe human rights. But then your citizens start to disagree about the meaning of their rights. Does the right to free speech protect offensive comments? Does the right to life include a right to die (euthanasia)? Your citizens ask: why are unelected judges deciding these questions, and not our elected representatives? What do you do? Quit and play Tetris?
Reconciling democracy with the protection of human rights is a cardinal issue in constitutional theory. In this presentation, I unpack its complexity by contrasting two paradigmatic responses, the American approach of strong judicial rights enforcement and the pre-1998 British approach of strong parliamentary rights enforcement. I explain the shortcomings of each and how the UK Human Rights Act, enacted in 1998, relates to these paradigms. To highlight the subject's importance and relevance, I discuss the ongoing debate in England about whether prisoners should have the right to vote.
- Richard O'Connor·Why won't you just look for it? A riddle of developmental psychologyImagine living in a world where the only things that existed were those that we could perceive, where simply hiding something from view could make it disappear from existence. To a degree, this is what the life of a young baby has been claimed to be like. According to the eminent psychologist Jean Piaget, young babies cannot form mental representations, and as such their mental life is limited to what they can see and hear at any given moment.
Such a claim is based on the fact that until around the age of 8 months, babies will not search for a toy that they have just seen being hidden from them. Piaget assumed that babies do not search for the toy because for them, if they cannot see it, it no longer exists. However, in the past 25 years research based on how much attention babies pay to different types of events, alongside brain imaging, suggests that babies younger than 8 months are able to form some sort of representations of things in the world that they cannot see. The big question then is if they know that hidden toys still exist, why do they not try to search for them?
I will be discussing some proposed answers to this riddle, and consider how we might go about finding out the answer. It is hoped that this talk will offer some insight into the sort of problems faced in cognitive developmental psychology, and introduce the methods we use to try to find out just what is going on inside babies' minds.
- Kelly Accetta·King of Kings - The life and death of Ramses the GreatFrom the great warrior pharaohs of the New Kingdom (1557-1069 BC) emerged a pharaoh so powerful, legendary, and prolific that he was considered a god by his own people and the 'great ancestor' by the ten subsequent pharaohs who shared his name. While his name inspires fear and power up to the present day, the general public knows little about his life. Who was the man behind the myth?
He emerged early as a great leader by becoming a skilled scribe and soldier. At the age of 24, upon the death of his father Seti I, he ascended the throne and began brutal military campaigns which would extend Egypt's empire to its furthest boundaries - the Levant in the north, Libya in the west, and Nubia (modern Sudan) in the south. His successes abroad brought peace to his people and wealth to his coffers.
With these resources he became the most prolific builder in Egyptian history. Ramses the Great ordered the expansion and construction of temples all over Egypt and Sudan in order to glorify his own name and that of the state god Amun-Re. He erected hundreds of statues of himself to decorate these temples and honor the god.
Despite the ruthless and arrogant facade displayed in his military conquests and temple construction, Ramses the Great loved deeply and feared death like any other man. Touching tributes to his Great Royal Wife Nefertari survive today, unmatched by any previous or subsequent pharaoh. The extensive plan and elaborate decoration of his tomb shows the pharaoh intended to be prepared for the dangerous underworld leading to the eternal Field of Reeds.
In this talk I will discuss Ramses the Great's life and death to show that the myth was born from a man of action, passion, and knowledge. [top]
- Lou Cantwell·On the Frontline of a Frontline State: The Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela and the Liberation Struggle in South Africa 1948-1994The power of traditional authorities in Africa was supposed to have been eroded and undermined by the rise of nationalist democracy in southern Africa and the rapid political change brought about by independence. In Botswana, arguably Africa's 'success story', chiefs have retained significance and authority alongside the 'new men' of nationalist politics.
In May 2012, Thabo Mbeki paid tribute to the role played by Chief Linchwe II of the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela in hosting refugees and also as part of the ANC's 'underground machinery' in Botswana. His involvement in such clandestine activity in support of the liberation struggle in South Africa had, until this point, remained hidden from public view. Taking this revelation as a starting point, this paper examines the ways in which the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela community in the Botswana-South Africa borderlands was involved in and affected by the struggle.
Botswana, though a 'Frontline State' and a prime example of successful majority-rule in liberated Africa, remained at the mercy of South Africa both economically and militarily. Throughout this period, her foreign policy was inescapably influenced by economic dependence and military inferiority. Botswana was therefore forced to walk the precarious tight-rope of official non-participation in the struggle, and the moral obligation to assist refugees. The role of Linchwe as an influential traditional authority within this complex network of support and self-preservation sheds new light on Botswana's role in the regional struggle against minority-rule in South Africa.
Based on a series of interviews and archival work carried out in Botswana in 2012, this paper will examine the ways in which the resilient influence afforded to traditional authority enabled Chief Linchwe to navigate a path outside of the national 'system' to play a significant undercover role in the revolutionary struggle for liberation in South Africa.[top]