Image of participants at Physics: Lab to Life
Credit: S.Bebb/Department of Physics

Making a difference with physics

Some 150 curious adults and teenagers braved the wind and rain last week to visit the Department of Physics for the annual Physics: Lab to Life open-doors event. The event tells the stories of how the physics we are working on now, will change our lives in the future. Visitors were invited on behind-the-scenes tours of the laboratories where new ideas are being developed and tested; they could choose too to sit in on a range of short talks from different researchers about how their work will impact on people's lives. Meanwhile, hands-on demonstrations gave a unique insight into different areas of research and their application in real life.

The programme included hearing from, among others, magnetician Dr Alexy Karenowska, who talked about how she uses physics to ensure our cultural history lives on from creating a monumental-scale replica of Syria’s destroyed Triumphal Arch, to preserving the aromas of ancient books; and DPhil student Sally Lord, who told the story about how an idea for a low-cost wind turbine went from its birth in the lab to its construction in Somalia. The hands-on demonstrations helped explain concepts such as using plasticine to explain the importance of topology within quantum materials.

After the event, Dr Phillip Tait, Innovation and Enterprise Manager at the Department of Physics said: 'It was great to see so many people interested in learning about how Oxford physicists are developing technologies that are changing our world for the better.'


Word cloud of feedback about the event.
Visitor feedback from the event


“Just a line to thank you and everyone who was involved in yesterday evening’s event. As local residents, it is hugely appreciated to see inside the buildings that we pass everyday – especially the awesome Beecroft space which we watched with wonder as they dug deeper and deeper to build it!”