PhysicsFest 2011 – Light Fantastic
22 December 2011
Aimed at young people aged between 8 and 18, but open to all members of the public, the event provided an informative and entertaining look at physics.
The institute was joined by Cambridge Hands On Science (CHaOS), who helped run a series of interactive experiments. As well as demonstrating the science behind hovercrafts, an enthusiastic public were shown how scientists and engineers are protecting buildings against earthquakes.
There was also the delightfully bizarre sight of robots playing football - as well as a planetarium, which quickly became a favourite with visitors of all ages. The high energy spark chamber gave an insight into the work currently being carried out by physicists at the Large Hadron Collider.
For the younger members of the audience, the ‘make and do’ craft physics sessions gave participants the chance to build their own galaxy. With all the giveaways on offer nobody left empty handed or without a smile on their face.
The public was given the opportunity to listen to two inspiring talks. “Tripping the Light Fantastic" by Dave Ansell (one of Cambridge's Naked Scientists) offered an insight into the wave and particle nature of light, its place in the electromagnetic spectrum and how our brains perceive colour.
“The Great Space Elevator” by Cavendish Laboratory research student, Maximilian Bock, surprised and inspired audiences about the possibilities of using nanotechnology to build a space elevator.
Asked about the event, Dr Lisa Jardine-Wright, Chair of The Institute of Physics’ East Anglia Branch, said:
“Today has been a real success, and clearly people really appreciate what we are doing because we’ve had over four hundred visitors, which is even more people than last year! We’ve had excellent feedback and you can see on the faces of the visitors that promoting science at a grass roots level can really inspire people.”
With the success of this year’s event clear from the amount of positive feedback that has been received, the IOP’s East Anglia Branch hope to hold the event at Claydon High School again next year.