Light Night 2015

7 April 2015

The Light Fantastic Physics Buskers were back again for more unbelievable light-themed physics tricks to amaze and entertain during this year’s Light Night in Nottingham.

Night Light

From lightsabre duels by the Robin Hood statue to a procession of glowing sea creatures, Nottingham was a beacon of light for this year’s Light Night, held on 6 February. The city was awash with light for the eighth annual Light Night, which saw the return of the Light Fantastic Physics Buskers at the Old Council House for more dazzling displays of scientific wizardry in the market square.

The buskers, made up of the University of Nottingham Physics department and IOP contingent, brought science to life for hundreds of visitors with their light-themed shows illuminating the wonderful, natural properties of light both visible and invisible. The buskers’ spectacles included the magic of glowing in the dark, seeing light trapped inside a water stream, and arc through the air. Quantum physics, too, were on display to captivate and stir the imagination in the form of Wave Particle Duality – observing that various intensities of UV light (shorter wavelength and higher frequency) can stimulate materials to fluoresce, while other colours of light (of longer wavelength and lower frequency) lacked the energy to do so.

To top this off and celebrate that 2015 is the UNESCO International Year of Light, an LED version of a Wave Pendulum was also on exhibition (see the video below). This consisted of 12 pendulums all with the same mass of bob, but with slightly different lengths of wire. These were masterfully orchestrated  so that each pendulum had a unique period and light sequence such that when released all starting together they gradually moved out of phase and synchronised into smaller subsets (with matching LED colours), before returning to one large in phase wave by the end of the two-minute cycle.

It was a wonderfully hypnotic display from the buskers, one that stirred plenty of excited and delighted squeals from children and adults alike. With another Light Night behind us, we’re left with a newly replenished imagination and anticipation for what might be in store from the Light Fantastic Physics Buskers in 2016.