Isabelle Boscaro-Clarke, Diamond’s Head of Communications, explains, “From its base in the county, Diamond is changing the landscape of scientific discovery in the UK, helping researchers to answer hundreds of complex science questions each year. It’s always been really important for us to explain the amazingly varied science that takes place at Diamond to the public, particularly our local community. Highlighting how Diamond’s research is already impacting on areas like health, energy and the environment forms a key part of our public engagement work in 2012, our 10th Anniversary year. Last year, the Oxfordshire Science Festival attracted around 30,000 people. We worked closely with the festival’s organisers to put together an exciting programme of Diamond related events, to share the wonders of the machine, and the science it enables, with festival goers.”
The Festival’s launch ‘Science In Your World’ was an interactive science fair that took place in Bonn Square and Castle Street Square in Oxford Castle Quarter, on Saturday 3rd
March. Diamond was there, alongside other science organisations from around the region, talking about the first ten years of its life. This includes the five year construction phase that involved over two million man-hours of work. The synchrotron machine itself where electrons race at near light speeds generating intense light that is ten billion times brighter than the sun. The host of experiments that scientists can do using this light to, among other things, look inside working engines, reveal the atomic structure of the proteins in our bodies, and understand diseases.
For the duration of the festival amazing images from the first decade of the synchrotron brightened up the corners of Oxford Castle Quarter as part of a giant outdoor photo gallery.
The free exhibition allowed members of the public to see the science of the future in the grounds of the Oxford Castle Quarter, which itself boasts ten centuries of heritage. Oxford Prison was once hailed as a ground-breaking building itself when the building was re-designed and re-modelled by Georgian architect William Blackburn, who set out on a ground-breaking mission to improve prison conditions.
There was a family talk on the synchrotron and the scientific experiments that take place within the silver doughnut shaped building.
Towards the end of the Festival Oxford University Museum of Natural History hosted a Diamond talk that focused on the environmental research that takes place at the synchrotron. Environmental science aims to tackle some of the most urgent problems facing us today – from climate science to pollution. It also takes in the fundamental science of the world around us, and will hopefully provide solutions as we aim to live more sustainably.
In ‘Bright Light for a Better Planet’, Professor Mark Hodson (pictured left) from the University of Reading, whose research focuses on how the humble earthworm survives in toxic soils, was joined by other scientists to discuss how Diamond, the brightest light in Europe, is helping environmental scientists understand the world around us.