Thousands flock to see Diamond's dazzling display of science and technology

Young boy sums up his visit by writing “Better than awesomeness”

Visitors view the ring at Diamond Light Source
Visitors view the ring at Diamond Light Source

The Harwell campus open week culminated on Saturday 11th July with a fantastic day that saw 15,000 members of the pubic visit site to experience science up close. Hundreds of scientists and engineers were on hand to explain their work and how it is helping to advance treatments and technologies in a wide range of areas such as medicine, energy, engineering, manufacturing, space exploration, and cultural heritage.

Diamond was one of the 19 areas the public could explore and they came in their thousands, eager to see inside the iconic doughnut-shaped building that is such a striking feature in the south Oxfordshire countryside.
High speed camera
High speed camera
Over 100 Diamond staff and researchers from 15 university departments came together to showcase the technology behind the synchrotron machine and the amazing variety of science that is carried out on Diamond’s 24 operational beamlines.
 
Feedback from the day was extremely positive. One young visitor said, “I love all of the different sciences all in one area. So many different careers and sciences are explained to me in detail. I would never have known that they existed if I didn’t come!”
 
Another remarked, “Completely fantastic. This display really illuminates how Diamond is a place where all sciences meet. A tool from physics and engineering making a bridge to all other sciences. Great!!”
 
During the day, 4,000 visitors were able to follow a walking route through the synchrotron building where explainers were on hand to tell them how Diamond generates light 10 billion times brighter than the sun. A marquee packed with machine related activities and demos brought the advanced technology to life with the help of Lego beamlines, ping pong ball electron launchers, and vacuum magic featuring balloons and cans.
(L-R): Alice Mather, 8, pours water into one of the volcano experiments watched by her father Prof David Pyle
(L-R): Alice Mather, 8, pours water into one of the volcano experiments watched by her father Prof David Pyle
Diamond House was filled with displays and researchers talking about how they make use of the powerful light generated by the synchrotron. Scientists use Diamond to study human diseases such as cancer, HIV, polio, and Alzheimer’s, along with those affecting animals such as foot-and-mouth disease. Over 4,000 visitors spent time in Diamond House, learning about this research. They also explored studies on improving wheat to enhance its nutritional value, research into dinosaur bones to uncover how our prehistoric friends lived and died, and investigations into wood from the Mary Rose warship to preserve this historic treasure. An impressive model volcano, complete with regular eruptions, featured outside where researchers explained how the synchrotron helps them to learn more about volcanos so we can better predict when they are going to erupt.    
 
The Harwell campus open week began on Wednesday 8th July with a schools day that saw Diamond welcome 350 school students and HRH the Duke of York who officially opened the proceedings. On the 9th and 10th July, Diamond gave VIPs tours of the facility as part of opening events for the European Space Agency and Rutherford Appleton Laboratory Space buildings, and the STFC’s VIP day.  Jo Johnson, MP Minister for Universities & Science, spoke at the opening ceremony for the new space buildings and was given a tour of Diamond by Andrew Harrison, Diamond’s CEO, prior to this event.  
HRH the Duke of York speaking to school children in the Diamond atrium marking the start of the Harwell campus open week on the 8th July
HRH the Duke of York speaking to school children in the Diamond atrium marking the start of the Harwell campus open week on the 8th July
Andrew Harrison comments: “The Harwell open week was a fantastic display of team work across the entire campus.  I’m really proud of all the hard work that the Diamond team put into helping to highlight the vital role the campus plays in keeping the UK at the forefront of science and technology. Along with the other facilities and departments here at Harwell, Diamond provides scientists with world class tools for cutting edge research. In the coming years, this research will help to change people’s lives for the better.”
 
 “Educating and inspiring young people and the public is an important part of Diamond’s role as a national science facility. In preparation for the schools and public days, staff and external researchers put a huge amount of time and imagination into preparing the demonstrations and displays that brought what we do alive, ensuring we were able to engage with people of all ages. The feedback from the day has been fantastic and we look forward to working with our campus partners on similar events in the future.”