• Olivia Halsall

OLEA Coffee Chats (4) with Henry, OLEA Physics Mentor

April 2022

The fourth of our OLEA Coffee Chats 2022 is with Henry, our brilliant Physics Mentor here at OLEA Education Ltd! IQ, AQ, CQ, SQ and EQ are the core pillars of OLEA Education Ltd., Throughout these, we enhance students’ 21st century skills so as to equip them for the ever-changing landscape of this new world we now live in. In this 12-month series of OLEA Coffee Chats, we will be disseminating the ambitions, habits and passions of our OLEA Mentors, as well as those we find particularly inspiring. OLEA Mentors have designed and delivered their own OLEA Masterclasses, which bring a school subject into real-life application. 智商 (IQ)、逆商 (AQ)、创商 (CQ)、灵商 (SQ) 和情商 (EQ) 是 OLEA Education Ltd. 的核心支柱。以这些支柱为依托,我们增强学生的 21 世纪英语技能,使其能够适应不断变化的世界格局。在这个为期 12 个月的《OLEA 咖啡访谈》系列栏目中,我们将介绍非常成功的 OLEA 导师和我们认为特别励志的人物志向、习惯和爱好。

Good morning Henry! Thanks so much for participating in our April edition of OLEA Coffee Chats. First up, what is your favourite coffee and why? 早上好,Henry!非常感谢你参加我们四月份的OLEA咖啡访谈。首先想问的是,你最喜欢的咖啡是什么?为什么呢?

Strong, black water! Coffee with absolutely no sign of milk nor sugar in sight is best for me… I can’t function without coffee in the morning and this is the most efficient delivery system as well as the best way to really taste the different coffees! 浓的黑咖啡! 对我来说,完全不加牛奶和糖的咖啡是最好的......我早上没有咖啡就无法正常工作,纯咖啡就是最高效的提供系统,也是真正品尝不同咖啡的最佳方式。

Your Physics Masterclasses have been hugely popular with our year 12 and 13 students who are interested in pursuing the sciences at university (in particular those looking at Natural Sciences at Cambridge, which you studied yourself). Can you tell us how physics situates itself within the broader realm of science? 你的物理大师课在我们12和13年级想攻读科学专业的学生中大受欢迎(特别是有些想和你一样在剑桥大学学习自然科学的同学)。你能告诉我们,物理学在更广泛的科学领域中是如何定位的吗?

I have a pressing memory of my first ‘Physics’ lesson in senior school which I still carry with me to this day. The first thing my Physics teacher said was “Physics is, by definition, the study of everything in the Universe. So, every other subject is derivative!” I’m sure this would irritate friends in other STEM disciplines, but it gets to the heart of my fascination with Physics: there is no broader subject, no part of science or our everyday lives which is left unchecked by the laws which govern everything in this Universe. 我对我在高中时的第一堂物理课有着深刻的印象,直到今天我还记忆犹新。我的物理老师说的第一句话是:“根据定义,物理学是对宇宙中一切事物的研究。因此,其他每门学科都是由物理学而衍生的!”我相信这句话会激怒其他科学、技术、工程和数学学科的朋友们,但它却直击我对物理学着迷的核心:没有比物理学更广博的学科,没有任何科学或我们日常生活的任何一部分是不受支配这个宇宙的物理法则的约束的。

There is then, really encouragingly, something for everyone in a study of Physics. If you study seriously then you will be amazed by humans’ progress in describing things like black holes we can never see nor touch with incredible precision from our vantage point on this speck of dust. If you study for you own pleasure, then there is nothing more empowering than being able to describe the world around you as you experience it and see just how amazing are the achievements of all the technologies which have infiltrated - and now shape - our lives. 因此,令人欣慰的是,在物理学研究中,每个人都能找到自己所兴奋的那个点。只要用心研究,你就会惊叹于于人类在描述黑洞等事物方面的进展——我们虽身处地球这个星际尘埃之上,永远无法看到触摸到黑洞,但我们却可以用物理学将其精准地描述出来。如果你是为了自己的乐趣而学习,那么没有什么比能够描述你所经历的周围世界,并见证所有已经渗透进并持续塑造着我们生活的这些技术成就,更加振奋人心和令人沉醉的了。

Why do you think it is important for students to really stick with their hobbies, and maintain passions beyond the scope of their academic work? Can you let us in on the secret of how you juggled your extracurricular interests and what they meant to you during your time at Cambridge? 为什么你认为学生真正坚持自己的爱好,并保持学术工作范围之外的激情是很重要的?你能否告诉我们你兼顾课外兴趣的秘诀,以及这些兴趣对你在剑桥学习期间的意义呢?

In a data-driven world of ever-increasing specialism, I think the most valuable people will be those who can build bridges between different disciplines. Often, these are the people who have formed different points of view through exposure to different - sometimes totally disparate - strands of human endeavour. This is why it is really important to keep up hobbies outside the classroom. 在一个由数据驱动、专业领域不断细分的世界里,我认为最有价值的人将是那些能够在不同学科之间构建起桥梁的人。通常情况下,这些人通过接触不同的(有时甚至是毫不相干的)人类知识领域的分支而形成不同的观点。这就是为什么保持课堂之外的爱好如此重要。

I don’t think I am a shining example of how to happily manage time at Cambridge: I go to bed late and get up early! However, I made sure to try to never pass up on an opportunity to do something different or challenging. Beyond building bridges and being the most well-rounded individual in the world, there is something totally necessary about being able to lose yourself in something that’s not your degree for a little while every so often. For me, that was making music, or climbing mountains. As an added bonus, something which you’re stuck on might not look so difficult when you’ve let your subconscious work on it for a bit! 至于在剑桥如何愉快地管理时间,我不认为我是个很好的榜样——因为我睡得很晚,起得很早!但是我确保尽量不错过任何一个不同的或有挑战性的机会。除了构建不同学科间的联系并努力成为最全面发展的人之外,时不时在和你学位无关的事情之中沉浸一小段时间也是至关重要的。对我来说,这种事情就是做音乐或者爬山。此外,当你放松时,潜意识会代替你去解决问题,原先你纠结的东西看起来可能就不再那么困难了。

What do you think it takes to be a successful scientist in 2022? Who are some role models that budding young physicists can look up to? Can you recommend anything for those looking to go for Oxbridge - what can they do now to prepare themselves for the journey ahead? 你认为在2022年成为一名成功的科学家需要什么?对于刚起步的年轻物理学家来说,有哪些是可以敬佩的榜样呢?你能为想考取牛津剑桥的同学推荐点什么吗?跟他们说说现在可以做些什么来为未来的旅程做准备呢?

As I hinted at earlier, I think it is invaluable for a 21st century scientist to be able to appreciate other scientists’ perspectives, backgrounds and motivations (as both scientists and humans!). This respect for people outside your chosen subject, as well as limitless inquisitiveness, will see you go very far. The Cambridge system of teaching sciences (in the Natural Sciences framework) does just this: you spend first year doing subjects you may not even have heard of before to fall in love with a specialism or, at the very least, see where your chosen subject fits into the wider scientific community. 正如我前面所暗示的,我认为对于一个21世纪的科学家来说,能够欣赏其他学科的科学家的观点、背景、以及(作为科学家和人类两层意义上的)动力是非常宝贵的。这种对你所在学科以外的人的尊重以及无限的好奇心,将帮助你走得更远。剑桥大学在自然科学框架内的教学体系就是这样做的:在你第一年中,你可能会学习到以前根本没有听说过的科目,并由此爱上一个专业,或者至少能够看到你选择的科目在更广阔科学界中的位置。

In terms of preparation for Oxbridge STEM courses, always look beyond your current curriculum, always ask “why?” And never settle for an explanation you can understand with little or no confusion - push yourself! Some amazing books for A-Level Physicists might be the inimitable Richard Feynman’s Six Easy Pieces and Six Not So Easy Pieces, or Leonard Suskind’s The Theoretical Minimum. I also remember being deeply inspired by the BBC Horizon programmes which stirred a private passion for cosmology which I still keep alive and talked about in my Cambridge interview! 至于如何为牛津剑桥STEM课程做准备,我建议要超越你目前的课程体系,多问“为什么?”并永远不要满足于你能理解的、没有困惑的解释——督促你自己不断向前!对于学习A-Level物理的同学,我向他们推荐一些非常精彩的书籍,比如无与伦比的理查德·费曼的《六个简单的事物》和《六个不那么容易的事物》,或者伦纳德·萨斯坎德的《理论最小值》。此外,我还记得BBC的《地平线》系列节目对我有着很深的启发性作用,这些节目激起了我对宇宙学的热忱并一直保持至今,而且在剑桥面试中我也谈到了。

At OLEA Education Ltd., bring the school curriculum into real-life relevance and enable students to see the practical side of what they are learning. If you had the chance to totally revolutionize physics in schools today, what would that look like? 在OLEA教育有限公司,我们致力于将学校课程与现实生活联系起来,使学生能够看到他们所学知识的实际意义。如果你今天有机会彻底革新学校的物理教育,你希望它变成什么样子?

As you set out to do at OLEA, the most important thing is to be able to link back what you learn in the classroom to something you do in everyday life, or some interesting historical aspect charting the evolution of our understanding of the Universe we call home. This always prompts you to think about a concept which will make it clearer to you (as I said, your subconscious is really much better at everything than your conscious brain)! I think I would want more of a focus on experiment in school Physics: the inner mathematician winces, but it is much easier to be intrigued by something you can touch and alter and push to the boundaries of its operation than it is to stare at equations. Also, again as much as I am very much a Theoretical Physicist, I think there should be more of an emphasis on getting an answer to a calculation as quickly as possible! 正如你在OLEA所做的那样,最重要的是能够将你在课堂上所学的东西与你在日常生活中所做的事情联系起来,或者通过讲述一些有趣的历史来描绘我们对这片称之为家宇宙的理解的演变。这一过程将会促使你下意识地去思考某个概念,并使你更清晰地理解它(正如我所说的,你的潜意识真的比你有意识的大脑在任何方面都做得更好)!我还希望在学校的物理课中更多地关注实验:哦,我们心里的数学家皱眉想要退缩,但不得不承认能触摸、改变并将物质推到可操作边界,比起死盯着书本上的方程式,吸引力要大得多。此外,尽管我是一名理论物理学家,但我认为在教育中应更加强调能够尽快得到计算答案的能力。

The Cavendish Laboratory’s (unofficial…) motto was always “do a back of the envelope calculation” to see if you’re in the right ballpark, and to always use your knowledge immediately to see if you really had grasped the concept. Briefly, I think there should be much more focus on numerical methods with coding packages like Python or MATLAB etc. because there is so much Physics which you can’t do analytically/ exactly - the real world is messy! 卡文迪什实验室(非官方的)座右铭一直都是“做粗略计算”,以此来及时判断你是否在正确的估计范围内,并强调快速运用你的知识来看看你是否真的掌握了这个概念。简而言之,我认为应该更多地关注Python或MATLAB等编码包的数值方法,因为有很多物理学问题是你无法给出分析性的或准确的解答的——现实世界是混乱的!

Tell us about a few conversations you have had during your time at Cambridge. Our 15 and 16 year-old students will be reading this, so nothing too rogue! 告诉我们你在剑桥期间的一些对话吧。因为我们15和16岁的学生会读到这个,所以注意尺度哦。

I think the most thought-provoking conversation I had was one on the philosophy of Physics with the amazing polymath Sir Roger Penrose (look him up, read everything he writes!). I was fortunate to attend a talk given by him recently and we spoke afterwards. There is so much beauty in the world and so much we don’t understand and it is mind-bending to think about our mathematical systems, how and why the world is so accurately described by them, what it means for a physical object to be described by these abstract thing and how our own consciousness/ humanity/ perception of the world fits into this framework… 我认为我有过的最发人深省的对话是与了不起的多面手罗杰·彭罗斯爵士进行的关于物理哲学的对话(请查找他的资料,并阅读他的所有文章!)。我很幸运地参加了他最近的一次演讲,结束后我们进行了交谈。世界上有很多美丽的东西,也有很多我们不了解的东西,想想我们的数学系统,世界如何以及为什么会被它准确地描述?物理对象被这些抽象的数学描述又意味着什么?以及我们自己的意识/人性/对世界的感知如何融入这个框架……这些都是费解又令人着迷的问题。

For something life-changing: I struggled in first year - I got a Third! I remember having a conversation with my Director of Studies, who also supervised me in Mathematics. We talked about my passions and interests and started working away at bits of the curriculum which reflected these, building confidence. It has stayed with me what he said about doing discrete things well to the best of your ability that you then use to build a tapestry of your life for you and no one else - no one’s watching, and who cares if they are! The most hilarious conversation is definitely too rogue to repeat…! 再说一些改变我命运事情:我在剑桥的第一年十分煎熬,我只拿到了三等学位!我记得我和我的教学主任进行了一次谈话,他也是我数学课的导师。我们谈论了我的热情和兴趣,并开始研究课程大纲中的哪些部分与我的兴趣相呼应,以此来建立信心。他对我说,要尽你最大的能力把一点一滴的事情做好,然后让点滴汇聚成河,构建起只属于你而非他人的独特生活——没有人在看,谁在乎他们是否在看呢!这段话至今我都记忆犹新。至于最搞笑的对话,那尺度就太大了,我就不在这里复述啦!

If you are interested in booking an OLEA Physics Masterclass for your daughter or son, please get in touch with us at olivia@oleaeducation.com or +44 7563414137

- Interview by Olivia A. Halsall

- Translation by Jiaqi Shang

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