St Cross Centre Holds HAPP One-Day Conference on "Physics Feuds Throughout History"

The St Cross Centre for the History and Philosophy of Physics (HAPP) held its termly one-day conference on Saturday, 25 February on "Physics Feuds Throughout History", which examined the history of a number of well-known feuds across the centuries. The morning talks covered an example from antiquity with Democritus' and Aristotle's opposing views on atoms and empty space, then went through a review of Copernicus' and Galileo's difficulties with the Catholic Church over the heliocentric theory and ended with Newton's very personal feuds with Hooke and Leibniz. The afternoon started with the famous dispute between Einstein and Bohr being dissected and the final talk of the day examined Hoyle's disagreements with Gamow and Ryle on the Big Bang versus the Steady State Universe.

The conference was also livestreamed to attendees from all around the world with over 1,000 viewings to date and over 200 attendees were present in person to hear the talks and Q&A discussions.

The Q&A sessions throughout the day after each talk were lively as always with many questions from members of the audience and there was a dynamic summary given at the end of the day to bring together the various strands of the conference theme. It was noted that this very day was the 300th anniversary of the death of Sir Christopher Wren who had demonstrated much more generosity of spirit when a difference of view had arisen with another scientist of his day and he had instead lauded their work as being better.

The day was topped off with a special conference dinner held amongst the dinosaurs at the University Museum of Natural History with a fascinating after-dinner talk by Professor Pieter Vermeesch, Director of the London Geochronology Centre at UCL, on how the original disputes surrounding the age of the Earth were resolved by physical techniques.

The videos of all the conference talks are now available at