Dr Alan Walton
Visiting Erskine Fellowship (19 Feb - 7 July '07)
Department of Physics & Astronomy. Cambridge University
616, Physics and Astronomy
Phone: +64 3 364-2404
Office Extension : 6572
Home Extension : 6748
Cell Phone: 021 02793384
- Teaching Physics
- Lesser-known luminescences (tribo-, sono-, bio-, and thermoluminescences.)
- Bubble Physics
- PHYS223 07S1 Newtonian and Relativistic Mechanics
- PHYS495 07S1 Introduction to Physics Education Research
I was born and educated up to MSc level in Ireland. I then went to Cambridge (on an 1851 Overseas Studentship) to take my PhD in low temperature physics. After that I went to Sussex University as a lecturer for five years before moving to the Open University (then scarcely off the drawing board). Sixteen years later I returned to Cambridge, holding a research post at the Cavendish and a lectureship at Magdalene College. I have been a visiting professor at Princeton University, Rutgers University and Williams College, all in the USA.
My centre of gravity is towards the teaching end of the spectrum. While at Sussex I was a member of the Nuffield Physics team which developed a new style of physics course (adopted mainly by independent schools). The Open University was the first distant-learning university to use television, radio and home kits in higher education: With no experience on which to draw we often learnt what could not be achieved from our mistakes.
Never wanting to do ‘me too’ research, I have explored some of the ‘byways’ of physics, concentrating on luminescences which may not have been studied since the eighteenth century (the light given out during crystallisation is one such example). Some of this work has had a useful spin-off (triboluminescent sensors are now used to detect interior damage to aircraft wings) and some has been just great fun. My other major research interest is the physics of bubbles in liquids, including sonoluminescence which occurs when a gas-filled bubble in a liquid is force-driven into ‘breathing mode’ oscillations, emitting several watts of power in the visible part of the spectrum.