Interest in Open Days Steadily Growing

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The Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences received a record amount of 1670 visitors during its Open Days, which were held at its 4 sites – at Na Slovance, at Cukrovarnická and in laser centres HiLASE and ELI Beamlines in Dolní Břežany in November 2018.

Visitors took part in rich activity programme during Open Days (full programme to be found here) and visited laboratories dedicated to various topics of physical research, such as materials with shape memory, thin films usable in biomedicine and optoelectronics, X-ray structural analysis, etc. At the lecture "Why is the sky blue?" one of the many children’s “why questions” were answered by physicists. Adults, in turn, got “their money’s worth” during the commented tours around halls housing the world's most powerful lasers.

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A tour entitled “Crystals Change the Colour of Light” in the Laboratory of Terahertz Spectroscopy. Photo: Dalibor Prokeš, Czech Academy of Sciences.

Apart from tours and lectures, Open Days are traditionally complemented by accompanying activities – one of which was, for example, an electron microscopy workshop for elementary and secondary school teachers. The electron microscope is the key equipment of most scientific or technically-oriented scientific workplace but in spite of this pupils and students tend to have little understanding of electron microscopy. For that reason, with the help of teachers, we seek to find ways to open the gates to the world of electron and light microscopes through a unique opportunity to instantly see viruses, nanoparticles or nanostructures which are invisible to light microscopy.

Students at the model of a “Bivoj” laser system at the HiLASE centre.

We have also expanded our offer of virtual reality experience; in addition to the traditional tour around the premises of ELI Beamlines, home to the world's most powerful lasers, or the ATLAS detector located in CERN, visitors to the Institute of Physics explored and tested the virtual reality representing the field of crystallography. Crystallographic virtual reality is to envisage molecular environment of crystals in micrometre factions and to represent, in an interactive way, a new method by which an electron stream is used to examine the molecular structure, and, based on diffraction results, information about the arrangement of atoms in very small crystals is acquired.

A demonstration of laser pulse simulation in virtual reality at ELI Beamlines.

To commemorate the centenary of Czechoslovakia, a short tour into the history of the Institute of Physics at the Cukrovarnická unit was organised. During the "Historical Walk", the participants visited the building complex, designed under the commission for the Research Institute of Sugar Industry by architect Záruba-Pfeffermann in 1920–1922.

Open Days took place from 8th to 10th of November 2018 in the framework of the Week of Science and Technology, an annual popularisation event, organised by the Czech Academy of Sciences and its Institutes. We are looking forward to meeting you in our laboratories in a year’s time again!

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The “Playful Physics” at Cukrovarnická. Photo by: Zdeňka Milotová, FZU.