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5th Meeting of the 201st Session (2021-2022)

Goo Galore: the science, the technology and the fun of all things squidgy

Professor Wilson Poon

Professor Wilson Poon

Professor Wilson Poon
Chair of Natural Philosophy
The University of Edinburgh

On Monday 28th February 2022, at 7pm

Goo is everywhere. Our bathrooms (shampoo, toothpaste, …) and kitchens (ketchup, mayonnaise, sauces, molten chocolate, …) are full of them. Industry cannot do without goo of all kinds: from paints through ceramic pastes to the glue that holds sections of optic fibres together. All these forms of goo share certain common characteristics. Most importantly, they can all be described as 'liquids with bits'. The presence of these 'bits' confer interesting properties, including 'squidginess'. In this talk, I will explain why physicists are interested in goo, and give examples of how physics can bring insights into the unusual mechanical behaviour of these materials, which makes them both applicable and fun to handle.

Wilson Poon trained in physics at Cambridge University. After spending a year at Portsmouth Polytechnic after his PhD degree in solid state physics, he joined Edinburgh University in 1990 and has worked there since. Two years after joining Edinburgh, he changed field and helped start one of the first soft matter research groups in a UK physics department. Poon works on both the fundamental physics of these materials and their application in biology and industry. In the latter case, he is particularly interested in relating soft matter physics to food, having published in recent years on chocolate and caramel, and also worked on gluten-free bread. He also teaches and researches in theology, being especially interested in how religious faith relates to science. When not doing any of these things, Poon is often found playing the piano or reading history books.