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Department of Physics

Educational Outreach


Q&A Session 13:15 - 13:45 on Friday 25th September


What does MathWorks do?

MathWorks is the leading developer of mathematical computing software. Engineers and scientists worldwide rely on its products to accelerate the pace of discovery, innovation, development and learning. 

What will students see in our demonstration?

We will discuss the physics behind launching and propelling rockets and the complexities of steering and testing rockets safely. Students will gain an insight into how an understanding of basic physics concepts can be built upon to provide many of the technologies we rely on today, and the application of software in the development of those technologies.

What physics is used?

  • Newton’s third law of motion: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” and how this applies to rocket propulsion and steering. 

  • The principles of feedback control loops for an everyday example of steering a car and applied to a more complex system like a rocket. 

Why is this physics useful? 

The link between a deflating balloon flying around the room uncontrolled to the launching of rockets and the software, modelling, and simulations which allowed them to be designed and to behave as intended is a highly important workflow in industry. The general problem-solving techniques employed by physicists in a variety of professions, such as software engineering highlights the exciting range of career opportunities available to those with a physics education. Most importantly, we hope that the students find these wide-ranging discussions of physics and its application to be as interesting as we do. 



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