More than one thousand visitors attended the Researchers’ Night Festival at the Institute of Physics

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Researcher’s Night Festival is a unique experience-focused event taking place throughout the evening hours in many places around the Czech Republic and other European countries. It involves presentations at universities, museums, libraries, science centres and institutes of science, including the Institute of Physics. This year’s edition, held on the 5th of October 2018, attracted a record number of 60 000 visitors, out of which 11 000 people paid a visit to the Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Science.

All four of its sites were involved in the event, the site at Na Slovance, with tours around laboratories, the Cukrovarnická site, with a special programme, designed particularly for students with deep interest in physics, and last but not least, the laser centres sites in Dolní Břežany, with rich programme activities for general public. A complete programme is available here.

At the Na Slovance site in Prague 8, visitors were able to attend 2 different tours, one to the Laboratory of Functional Materials and Composites and the other to the Laboratory for Scanning Electron Microscopy. On a tour entitled Shape Memory Metals, the visitors got some insight into this promising developing field, in which materials are utilized capable of changing its shape as a result of a change in external conditions such as temperature or electric field. Due to their easy handling and the possibility of miniaturization, these metals are predestined for use in many technical and medical applications, such as substitutes of miniature motors or special stents used to unblock arteries. The tour around the second laboratory, entitled Microstructure of Things, was dedicated to a scanning electron microscope Tescan FERA3, made in the Czech Republic, and especially to what can be seen with it: surprising structures found on the surface of plants and animals, fulfilling a variety of biological functions, or, in contrast, man-made structures on artificial surfaces, demonstrating the refined artistry of industrial production.

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Examining a sample, using an electrone microscope made in the CR.

The laboratories of Thin Layers and Nanostructures Department at the Cukrovarnická site in Prague 6, provided attractive program activities for secondary and especially university students with deeper interest in physics. The participants could enjoy an evening full of practical physics, without lengthy expert lectures but with a lot of experiments. The measurements and demonstrations which were carried out using top-notch instruments were complemented by an informal discussion about physics and future employment opportunities in science, which was taking place around a campfire.

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What techniques do researchers use to reach the atomic level?

You could visit the ELI Beamlines and HiLASE laser centres, located in Dolní Břežany, not only in person but also in virtual reality. The activities, which aroused most interest among the general public, were guided tours and infotainment lectures entitled The Laser Story - from a Candle to the Photon - from the Photon to LASER and Laser Applications in both Ordinary and Extraordinary Life. In addition, there was a special projection linking art with physics. Competitions, interactive exhibitions and a photo corner were prepared for children.

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A virtual tour around laboratories, which are closed to public, at the laser centres.
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Laser centres were unusually charming during the Researcher’s Night due to the use of videomapping of real scientific simulations.

The Researchers’ Night Festival has been taking place across Europe at the initiative of the European Commission since 2005, engaging research institutions, scientific institutes, science centres and museums and hospitals. The Czech version of the Festival in 2018 was advertised under the slogan "100 Years of Czech Science". People of any age, education, or interests may visit lectures, experiments, demonstrations, virtual reality, exhibitions, films, workshops at various institutions where they receive a welcome by assistants, scientists, demonstrators and all those for whom research is a part of their daily life. The Institute of Physics was one of the Researchers’ Night Festival destinations in Prague. More about the Researcher’s Night is available here.

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