MPhys (Oxon), PhD (Imperial College London)
Describing the world around us, in an accurate and useful way, is the central goal of science.
However, there are many things in our world which we cannot directly see or measure.
In physics, we face this problem every day: there's a microscopic realm of small-scale unknowns, which somehow gives rise to the macroscopic world around us. My work builds connections between our large-scale macroscopic measurements and the underlying microscopic structure at work. This allows to improve our phenomenological models, and to better understand the fundamental laws which govern our Universe.
The technical term for these techniques is `effective field theory’: a set of rules which allows one to make reliable calculations in the absence of certain information. For example, the world of our everyday experience is very small compared with galaxies, but large compared with atoms. This allows us to describe the flow of water in a pipe without following the motions of its individual particles or of distant celestial bodies.
My Research Fellowship at Emmanuel is the opportunity to apply these techniques to some of the most important open questions in theoretical physics, such as how gravity (which we understand on large planetary scales via Einstein’s General Relativity) affects individual atoms (which we understand on microscopic scales via Quantum Mechanics).
Many years ago, I grew up on the south side of Glasgow, forming fond memories of playing high school basketball and learning to make fireworks.
After successfully not burning down my high school, I moved to the University of Oxford (which I did very nearly burn down – one reason I am now a theorist), where I completed my Master’s Degree in Physics.
The 2017-18 von Clemm fellowship at Harvard University then allowed me to stay in the US just long enough to fix my Scottish accent, before returning to the UK to take up the President’s PhD Scholarship at Imperial College London (there’s only so many times one can lose to basketball-savvy Americans before one yearns for the British Isles).
I enjoy rambling (both in hills and with words), and can often be found outdoors, playing basketball, or cooking and eating good food.
Personal website: Scott Melville