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Girton150 The Visitor’s Lecture by the Rt Hon the Baroness Hale of Richmond

The Visitor’s Lecture is delivered by The Right Honourable, The Baroness Hale of Richmond (1963, Law), President of the UK Supreme Court, Visitor to Girton College since 2004 and Honorary President of the Cambridge University Law Society. Her Lecture is titled “100 Years of Women in Law”.

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Magnetic microscopy of meteorites: probing the magnetic state of the early solar system

Mon 12 February 2018

Department of Chemistry

Lecture by Professor Richard Harrison, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge.

The third talk in a series of lectures organised by the Cambridge Philosophical Society in the Lent Term 2018.

Abstract: Microstructural and geochemical studies of meteoritic metal have been instrumental in shaping our current views of differentiated asteroids, providing constraints on their cooling rate, their size, the timing of their differentiation and their fractional crystallisation and impact histories. The characteristic Widmanstätten microstructure, familiar to anyone who has looked at a polished and etched section of an iron meteorite with the naked eye, hides a nanoscale complexity that is revealed only with high-resolution electron microscopy – a legacy of stranded diffusion profiles, metastability, martensitic transformations, chemical segregation and ordering during slow cooling over millions of years on the parent body. The presence of soft bcc iron has traditionally lead to the meteoritic metal being dismissed as a reliable carrier of paleomagnetic information. However, we have shown that, under favourable circumstances, paleomagnetic information can be recorded and retained on a local scale within a unique nanoscale intergrowth called the cloudy zone (CZ). High-resolution X-ray imaging methods enable the magnetic state of the CZ to be imaged and analysed quantitatively, opening up new avenues of research into the nanopaleomagnetism of a range of meteorites. Such studies are not only revealing new insight into the thermochemical properties of asteroids in the early solar system, but provide us with unique opportunities to learn about how magnetic fields are generated on planetary bodies in general, and the underlying physics of the dynamo generation process itself.

Cost: Free

Ages: 16+

Enquiries and booking

No need to book.

Open to all who are interested, no booking required. Entrance is free to all our Cambridge Philosophical Society Lectures. For further information please contact the Executive Secretary or visit the Society's website

Enquiries: Beverley Larner Website Email: philosoc@hermes.cam.ac.uk Telephone: 01223 334743


All times

Mon 12 February 2018 6:00PM - 7:00PM


Entrance to the lecture theatre is opposite the Scott Polar Research Building, off Lensfield Road
Address: Department of Chemistry
Bristol Myers-Squibb Lecture Theatre
Lensfield Road
Telephone: +44 1223 336300
Fax: +44 1223 336362