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7th of November 2018
ATNF Colloquium
Hanbury Brown, Twiss and the experiment that shook physics
by Peter Tuthill (USyd)
Abstract: The 1960's ushered in a remarkable belle epoch for the University of Sydney's School of Physics. Brokered by the indomitable Harry Messel, an experiment took shape at the unlikely rural backwater of Narrabri in outback NSW conceived by two equally larger-than-life figures: Robert Hanbury Brown and Richard Twiss. Although the Narrabri Stellar Intensity Interferometer was ultimately so wildly successful that it is now regarded by many as the most important physics experiment conducted in Australia, at the time it ignited a firestorm of controversy. At stake was the ultimate nature of light, with many of the world's most eminent Quantum physicists flatly declaring that the experiment could not work. The surprising answers bridged the micro-scale physics of photons and the light years to the stars, forming the genesis of an entirely new field - Quantum Optics - that now underpins a host of technologies enabling the modern world. The story will come up to the present day describing efforts now underway to celebrate this history here at the University of Sydney.

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