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12 September 2016

Utopia: a world away from equilibrium

The students and academic staff of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Centre for Doctoral Training in Cross-disciplinary Approaches to Non-Equilibrium Systems (CANES) have developed an exhibition which aims to demonstrate the challenges which are presented to our society by non-equilibrium systems. This exhibition will provide an insight into how the research that is being conducted within the centre may lead to a more Utopian society in the future.

Yellow bubbles of different sizes
Yellow bubbles

CANES brings together scientists from a wide range of academic disciplines, including mathematics, physics, informatics, chemistry, environmental science and biomedical science at King’s College London and our partner universities University College London, Queen Mary University of London and Imperial College London.  As a doctoral training centre, the aim is to bring together ideas from this range of disciplines to train the next generation of researchers such that they have a unique approach to tackling the challenges presented by non-equilibrium systems.

Utopia 2016 a collaboration between Somerset House, King’s College London and the Courtauld Institute is a season of events, exhibitions and activities exploring the idea of an ideal society. The Utopian lab developed by CANES features a brief video highlighting several of the non-equilibrium systems that are ever present in the current world, including the aging of living things, environmental hazards like wildfires and earthquakes, the spreading of diseases, financial crashes and riots. The lab showcases recordings of the staff and students involved in CANES, discussing their research in order to understand, control and design systems that are far from equilibrium, and questioning how their research might contribute to a Utopian future. Finally, there are interactive demonstrations that highlight some of the examples of non-equilibrium systems which are found in every-day life and allow the visitors to gain an understanding into why does the oil and vinegar in my vinaigrette salad dressing phase separate after sitting on the shelf, why the brazil nuts are always at the top of my muesli box and how am I the lucky one to be the first person in my family to catch the latest cold that is going around?