During a visit to Diamond Light Source earlier today (Wednesday 18th February), Tim Stevenson OBE, Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, launched Diamond’s contribution to the Oxfordshire Science Festival by adding a stitch to the World’s largest diffraction pattern – an innovative textile project which brings science and art together to provide a platform for scientists to explain their research to the public in an engaging and imaginative way.
The Lord Lieutenant added a silver stitch alongside Renee Watson, Director of the Oxfordshire Science Festival 2009, to promote its presence in Bonn Square, Oxford, on Saturday 28th February. Members of the public will be invited to add a stitch, and learn more about the science undertaken at the Diamond synchrotron, as part of the festival’s programme. Already, over 3,000 people from far and wide have contributed to the pattern, which has been taken to Harrogate, Paris and Chicago to collect stitches.
Prof. Gerd Materlik, the Chief Executive of Diamond, explains why the institute came up with this initiative. He says: "We believe that science is for everyone and we are keen to open it up to all in new and interesting ways, such as the World’s largest diffraction pattern. This project is more than a piece of art or a scientific image – it is an opportunity for members of the public to engage with and learn about the science happening on their doorstep. We’re delighted that already so many people have added stitches and learnt about the science along the way. Taking part in the festival will be the perfect opportunity to reach more people and gather more stitches."
The Lord Lieutenant is keen to see the pattern grow, he says: "It is great to see science showcased in Oxford. The festival presents a unique opportunity for the community to get to know about the good work the county is involved in. Diamond’s latest outreach project will be at the festival on Saturday 28th February and shoppers can take time out to visit the Diamond stand in Bonn Square between 12:00pm and 4:00pm where they can add a stitch and chat with Diamond staff to discover the science behind the pattern. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed taking part and learning about it myself and certainly encourage others to do so."
Renee Watson is looking forward to the start of the festival, she says: "This is a fantastic milestone for Oxfordshire science; the county’s first science festival offers a great range of activities and events for all ages. We want to challenge people who have never before thought science could be relevant to them. This festival isn’t about nutty professors talking in another language about concepts that we will never understand. It is about touching, talking, questioning and discovering the science in your world."
Dr John Barker, Group Leader of X-ray crystallography at Oxfordshire-based biopharmaceutical company Evotec, and his team achieved the featured diffraction pattern during beamtime at Diamond in 2008. He says: "The information we gain from these diffraction patterns is vital to the progression of our research into serious diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and pain relief. It is fantastic that one of our diffraction patterns is now being used to create a unique work of art whilst at the same time widening access to science. Evotec is very pleased to be supporting Diamond Light Source in this initiative and we are looking forward to seeing it on display."
Diamond hopes to collect many more stitches during the Oxfordshire Science Festival and its Inside Diamond days in March and May when the facility is open to the public. When complete, the World’s largest diffraction pattern project will have collected stitches from over 5000 people in the UK, Europe and America. Details regarding its unveiling are yet to be announced.
Members of the public who are interested in sewing a stitch and finding out more about the science behind the project can visit the Diamond stand in Bonn Square, Oxford, between 12:00pm and 4:00pm on Saturday 28th February. They can also visit www.diamond.ac.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org further information.
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Notes to Editors
Diffraction pattern background
Diffraction patterns are obtained by scientists and are of great interest to biomedical researchers in particular as the patterns lead to a 3-D representation of the structure of a specific biological target, which can be used to help design cures for specific diseases. The diffraction pattern being created in the art and craft piece is based on a target called serine racemase, which is an important target in the fight against pain and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists from the pioneering Oxfordshire-based biopharmaceutical company Evotec have solved the structure of serine racemase by using data collected at Diamond; it is one of the first ever data sets collected for this specific biological target. Evotec undertakes regular research at Diamond and is kindly supporting this initiative.
Diamond Light Source
Oxfordshire Science Festival 2009 - Running from Saturday 28th February to Sunday 15th March 2009
The first Oxfordshire Science Festival has been born of a collaboration between eight of the most renowned science organisations in the UK: the MRC, Oxford Brookes, Oxford Inspires, Oxford Natural History Museum, Science Oxford, UK Atomic Energy Association Culham, and the University of Oxford Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics.
The festival is where hands and minds can get busy exploring, debating, experiencing and discussing science at the many events held across the county each year. Events are aimed at regular people, from young children right through to adults, who just want to have fun and perhaps explore a topic that is important to them such as climate change, inheritance, music and sport.
For more information about the festival, please visit www.oxfordshiresciencefestival.co.uk
Evotec is a leader in the discovery and development of novel small molecule drugs and has established a powerful drug discovery platform that is applicable to biological targets across all therapeutic areas. It uses pioneering approaches and technologies such as structure-based drug design using the Diamond Light Source in its collaborative and proprietary research. In addition, Evotec has specific expertise in the area of diseases of the central nervous system such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Evotec is a regular user of Diamond and is supporting this science and art initiative.
For more information about Evotec, please visit www.evotec.com
Diamond Light Source is the UK's national synchrotron science facility, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.
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