The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) opened its doors (link opens in a new window) to the general public from 8–11 July as part of a new initiative to deliver an annual STFC open week. The recent event at RAL saw 1,000s visit and see at first-hand the vast array of research that takes place at RAL and on the wider Harwell Campus (link opens in a new window), and also within STFC as-a-whole.
More than 16,000 visitors attended, many getting privileged access to the UK’s two largest particle accelerators – ISIS and Diamond – visits to which are usually restricted due to safety considerations. (Bottom left and top right in the aerial view of RAL.) There was a dizzying amount of science and technology on display, presented in a way intended to be digestible and understandable by the general public, and to encourage hands-on engagement.
The ASTeC stand was located in the ‘Accelerators’ marquee, sharing this space with the LHC roadshow. The two stands naturally complemented each other very well, and visitors moved naturally between the two with questions about the LHC project and the UK’s part in it.
Dr Lee Jones (link opens in a new window) (link opens in a new window), ASTeC Public Engagement lead, spearheaded ASTeC’s contribution to the event which saw the ever popular Van de Graaff generator raising hair whilst teaching some important physics principles to visitors, young and old alike. Parents and teachers particularly were fascinated with the table top magnetic accelerator which works a bit like a magnetically-assisted Newton’s cradle, and as always, everyone was stunned by the demonstration of superconductivity using the Meisner effect in which a magnet is seen to levitate above a superconductor.
“There were lots of curious, happy, smiling faces, with people eager to see and learn, and to engage with some of the country’s leading scientists in a range of fields. Most visitors were surprised at the level of expertise within ASTeC and the capabilities of the STFC. Many people had questions about the future of the LHC, and what might actually come after that machine.”
2016 will see Daresbury Laboratory open its doors to the general public in the second STFC open week. The date is still to be confirmed, but it is likely to be in early July again.
4 August 2015