Diamond's Mad March with the Oxfordshire Science Festival

A flurry of events across Oxfordshire Science Festival

Image A flurry of events across Oxfordshire Science Festival

2015 is shaping up to be a whirlwind year for Diamond. After a busy start which saw research from the facility feature in sever major national publications, Diamond jumped straight into a huge public engagement drive, getting stuck in to a series of events, workshops, discussions, and talks.

The packed programme of events was all part of the Oxfordshire Science Festival – a huge county-wide celebration of science and all that science gives us. Oxfordshire is a hub for science and technology, and for two weeks in March organisations across the county take part in the initiative, which seeks to bring science closer to the public, highlighting the impact research and innovation has on their everyday lives.
For Diamond, things kicked off with a stall at the Science in Your Future event in Oxford City Centre on Saturday 7th March. Thousands of visitors attended the event which consisted of dozens of stalls from various scientific institutions in and around Oxfordshire. Visitors enjoyed hands-on activities, tutorials and games, meeting representative from organisations such as Siemens and the University of Oxford. The Diamond team spoke to hundreds of people, all keen to learn about the role of bright light in supporting cutting edge science.
Diamond followed this success up with a film extravaganza on the evening of Sunday 8th. The event, Reflections and Revolutions, included a screening of the Nuffield Department of Medicine’s film series Revolutionary Biology which looks at the work of modern biologists at the University of Oxford and beyond. The event also featured a screening of Diamond’s new film The Braggs’ Legacy, which looks at the history of crystallography, a vital technique for scientific research. Over 80 people attended the event at the Old Fire Station  in Oxford; and feedback was extremely positive with comments including: “As a family of crystallography novices we all took something away from the event to ponder. Thank you.” and “Learning can be so much fun!”
After the busy weekend, there was only a brief sojourn before Diamond threw open its doors to the public for our famous open days. Over 500 people from as far afield as Derby and Loughborough made the pilgrimage to Harwell Campus to get a peek inside the synchrotron. And they weren’t disappointed. A host of stands from Diamond users, including the Mary Rose Trust and the Medical Research Council were on hand to talk about the important role Diamond plays in their research, whilst our army of helpful tourguides and scientists provided visitors with trips into the heart of the machine and the beamlines that capitalise on Diamond’s light. And visitors were certainly grateful, leaving comments including: “A brilliant technical insight to your work. Long may it continue.” and “Best day ever!”
The following week, on Thursday 19th March, Diamond’s CEO Andrew Harrison gave a talk on the history of light to a host of interested guests at the Abingdon Guildhall. The talk focussed on the vital significance of light in the evolution of industry, science, and humankind, and explains how we continue to explore the world using light. This was followed on Friday 20th by Talking Science: The Light Fantastic, a talk from RAL Space, RAL Central laser Facility, and Diamond on the myriad uses of light and what it can tell us about how the universe works.
The flurry of events came to a close on Saturday 21st March with the ATOM Science Fair in Abingdon-on-Thames. The interactive fair featured hands on activities, and the opportunity to take part in science experiments and even a treasure hunt.
Over 30,000 people attended Oxfordshire Science Festival events during March, and for that two weeks ‘science’ was the words on everybody’s lips! The festival did a fantastic job of spreading the word about the pioneering research that’s taking place across the county, and Diamond was honoured to play a part in the initiative, bringing science firmly into the spotlight.