Experience Science - Open Day at Forschungszentrum Jülich
Forschungszentrum Jülich in Germany (FZJ) is one of the biggest research centers in Europe. On Sunday, July 7th, it was open to the public, hosting more than 28000 visitors.
‘Tag der Neugier’ - the German name of the event translates to a ‘Day of Curiosity’. And that was accurate! Guests could listen to talks, observe demonstrations, participate in hands-on activities and learn about the experiments carried out on-site and visit the experimental facilities. Some of the attractions were designed especially for children.
The activities were divided into sections which reflect the diverse disciplines present at FZJ and challenges that researchers are facing now: environment and climate, energy and matter, data science and life sciences. Furthermore, in the Research Café there was a chance to chat with scientists in an informal environment, in the Future Library guests could experience virtual reality and for those interested in practical aspects of daily life at FZJ the fire brigade, safety and security groups were there to explain their routines. Last but not least, a series of events was prepared to showcase the connections of FZJ with a local community and global research.
The Nuclear Physics Institute at Forschungszentrum Jülich (IKP), a host institution for AVA Fellow Dominika Alfs, guided visitors through basic concepts of particle physics: from a simple detector to a big experiment. Guests were challenged to perform some measurements on their own. They could, for example, measure their hair thickness by the diffraction pattern of a laser beam or detect and visualise cosmic radiation particles with scintillators and cloud chambers. It was explained how the detectors they used are then built into big experimental setup. To complete the picture, tours to a Cooler Synchrotron (COSY) - a particle accelerator and a storage ring for protons and deuterons operated by IKP were offered.
"I had a chance to see how this kind of event is planned and prepared. Even though on the day of event everything seemed to be happening almost effortlessly, it required a lot of work beforehand. It was interesting to participate in preparation of the experiments - I realised that making them work is simply not enough - they need to grab visitors’ attention and give us a chance to share our knowledge and excitement in the meantime." - said Dominika.