Visiting Assistant Professor Damien Martin
TeachingThis semester I am teaching part one of an introductory series aimed at life science students (Physics 135A) and a general science course on the nature of light (Physics 103).
Research interestsMy primary research interests are in early universe cosmology and general relativity. My work has included looking for evidence of new particles in the cosmic microwave background, black hole physics and debunking a suggested extension of quantum mechanics.
A list of my publications can be found here (PDF).
OutreachMy main outreach activities are:
- Introducing highschool students to programming and research,
- Working with juniors and seniors, particularly from underrepresented minorities, in getting into physics graduate school via the Physics GRE Bootcamp,
- Blogging about cosmology for a lay-audience at The Spherical Cow Company.
Teachers looking for speakers to talk to their students about black holes, cosmology, development in particle physics or career in physics advice are encouraged to contact me.
- PhD in Physics from the University of California at Davis (2011)
- MSc in Math from Victoria University of Wellington (2007)
- MSc in Physics from Victoria University of Wellington (2003)
- P. W. Anderson, "More is different", Science 117, 393 (1972).
Why physics?We all start off as scientists. I have yet to meet a child that is not curious about the way the world works, why a star twinkles or why rainbows form. Some of us lose interest when we find that the answers are not always simple, but the majority of us grow up and accept the world the way it is. That majority spends their time on more pragmatic issues such as how to make a good income, raise a family or make a difference in their community.
Those of us that end up doing physics (or science in general) are typically those that never grew up. We will certainly not make as much money as we could doing other things, but we get to spend our days asking why the universe is the way it is. How does it work? What are the effective laws that govern our entire world? Where did we all come from?
Unlike other disciplines, science truly persists. Laws of mankind are necessary, but are overturned as civilisations change. The laws of science also evolve, but provided the scientific method is adhered to when a law is superceeded, it is still just as good as an approximate description of the world as it ever was. For example, we know that the Newtonian model of mechanics is not correct at high speeds or for small systems, but it is still a very good approximation when applied in the regime that it originally described. Try arguing a case in court with laws from 300 years ago!
These comments are not specific to physics; they apply to science as a whole. Even social sciences, such as economics, share the same basic ideas. The thing that makes physics different is that it is the most fundamental science. Nothing happens in chemistry or biology that does not ultimately result in the fundamental interactions in physics.