Taking Physics from the Lab into your Life - IF Oxford

29 October 2018

How is physics research being used to change your life? We opened our doors as part of Oxford's science and ideas festival to showcase some of the ways research can become technology, and physics can move from the lab into your life.

On 16th October 2018, 170 adults and teenagers explored the department and our research with an evening of laboratory tours, talks and hands-on demonstrations. Forty volunteers - students and researchers from across the department - helped lead the tours, run the science stalls and present the talks. Participants could set their own agendas, picking out which laboratories and talks they wanted to see over the course of the evening. The rest of their time could be spent exploring the science stalls, where they were spoiled for choice! We had all kinds of physics being demonstrated, from levitating superconductors to water off a duck's back, via digital archaeology, citizen science, malarial microscopy, virtual reality and a host of quantum fun and games.

Photo Credit: Sian Tedaldi

The tours of laboratories were one of the highlights of the evening, with small groups of visitors being led behind the scenes by researchers. We were thrilled to be able to open up six labs, covering quantum computing, superconductors, solar cells, nano-imaging and more!

Dr Suzie Sheehy talking about medical accelerators
We were lucky enough to have three excellent talks from esteemed researchers over the course of the evening. Prof Julia Yeomans spoke about her inspiring work on hydrophobic surfaces. Dr Suzie Sheehy explored the incredible world of particle accelerators and discussed their use in cancer care in Low and Middle-Income Countries, helped by Laurence Wroe. Bringing proceedings to a close, Prof Peter Read demonstrated the modelling of atmospheric circulation with water, ice and a giant spinning device! The audiences were wowed by all three of these talks, and left with lots of new ideas.

Share one fact...
On their way out, we asked everyone to write down one fact they had learned over the course of the evening, and we were thrilled by the range of ideas and knowledge that had been picked up, from the workings of a lab glove box to the details of cooling with lasers.

The event was part of 'IF Oxford', Oxford's science and ideas festival, which was newly formed this year. We were excited to be part of the stellar line-up, and taking part in the festival brought in new crowds that might not otherwise have chosen a physics event. We had lovely and very positive feedback on the night from those who visited.

This was a really great event. Very interesting and informative.

Do more open days! Fascinating!!

Please do it again!

It was much more interesting than I thought it was going to be!

Our thanks go to all of the volunteers who gave up their Tuesday evening to share their work with the public. This event could not have happened without you!

Matt demonstrating superconductivity
Showing off the Zooniverse

Malarial microscopy

This event was organised by Dr Kathryn Boast, Dr Sian Tedaldi and Dr Phill Tait.