Kicking up a storm: SMASHFest Special Lecture 2016

10 February 2016

On 4 February, London and South East (@IOPLSE) branch chair, Mark Telling, gave the first #smashfest Special Lecture 2016 at the Design Engineering and Mathematics Department at Middlesex University, London (@MDXDEM).


SMASHfest (, ) is a unique mash-up festival of science and art, engineering and entertainment, music and maths, comedy and technology that uses storytelling to engage young people in STEM. Underpinned by the apocalyptic premise that a super solar storm is heading for London, the 2016 festival ( asks the general public to consider how they would survive a storm that wipes out the world’s electrical and electronic infrastructure and throws us back to the mechanical age!

Mark said "SMASHfest is a great initiative that gets both kids, and grown ups, excited about physics. In fact the festival is so immersive that participants might not initially even realise its physics they are enjoying"

Mark’s invited talk, entitled 'Magic Bullets and Plastic Sponges', focussed on research that utilises the quantum-physical properties of the neutron; research that happens daily not just around the world but also in the heart of the Oxfordshire countryside at a laboratory (<>) which houses what The Guardian describes as, “one of the most extraordinary machines ever built".  Unfortunately, few have the chance to witness this ‘machine’ or even know exists! Mark therefore invited the audience to peak behind the curtain and learn exactly what neutron research entails, how this tiny particle illuminates our world and how he uses an experimental method known as neutron scattering for his own bio-physics based studies.

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