27 March 2018

From black holes to hipster Roman poets: Students impress in first Academic Society seminar

A new first for John Lyon was marked in Spring Term as Sixth Form students presented seminars to the School’s Academic Society.

To an audience of boys from various years, the four Lower Sixth students gave talks on a diverse range of subjects, from the vastness of black holes to the Roman ‘hipster’ poet, Catullus.

Jaimi Patel (L6SJA) writes:

Our opening speaker was Asher Weisz (L6JWP) who gave a talk on “Catullus: Rome’s Hipster Poet”. Asher captivated the whole audience by giving a modern take on an ancient individual, drawing a contrast with epic poets, such as Homer. Asher drew attention to how Catullus gives us an insight into life for an ordinary Roman citizen. A life characterised by love and loss, just like in the modern world.

The next speaker was Akhil Thadi (L6SJA) who spoke on “Black Holes: The Endless Abyss”. Being an A-Level physicist myself, I expected to have some knowledge on black holes, however he spoke about some unfamiliar concepts, such as white holes and energy mining from black holes. The most impressive question was from Harsh Hingorani (9ECW) who asked whether black holes and white holes could be connected to form wormholes, allowing for instantaneous travel through space. In light of the recent death of Steven Hawking, this was an excellent time to hear such a captivating talk.

Next, Jonathan Abraha (L6ASL) addressed the group on “Violence and the Law”. He referred to the recent Parkland shooting, then analysed US and UK law and concluded that the lack of a serious deterrent means people are more likely to commit crimes. Once his talk was over there was a thought-provoking debate on whether capital punishment would be a good policy to reduce crime.

Our final speaker was Yenuson Venderkoon (L6JWP) who spoke about an economic concept called “Tragedy of the Commons”, an idea he traced back to the writings of Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations, but which was later developed by the philosopher, Garret Hardin. This allowed many boys in the audience to get a flavour of Economics, a subject only taught at A-Level. After a successful seminar, the discussion continued over pizza in the Sixth Form Common Room.

Sixth Form Seminars will run every half term and all are welcome to attend. Keep an eye out for details of future events.