Fwd: Exploring space from the mine, creative coding and the launch of Webb

From: "Chris Holt chris.holt@PROTECTED [Abingdon Astronomical Society Mailing List]" <aasmail@PROTECTED>
Subject: Fwd: Exploring space from the mine, creative coding and the launch of Webb
In-Reply-To: (no subject)
Date: November 18th 2021

These RAL and Royal Observatory events and talks may be of interest.

Chris H

-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: Exploring space from the mine, creative coding and the launch of Webb
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 2021 15:04:47 +0000

Good afternoon,


We hope that you are all keeping safe and well.  We are really excited about the events we, and our sister labs, are planning in the run up to Christmas and beyond: we’re getting more and more excited about the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, we’re going to be running some tests on space rovers at our underground lab, and our Glow Your Own project is finishing with a grand finale this week!  You can find details of all of Rutherford Appleton Laboratory’s events (including our events aimed at schools) on our main Eventbrite page:


If you cannot make any of our events live but would like to receive a recording of them, please register at the links below.


Over the past six weeks, we’ve been working with IF Oxford to do some creative coding – creating beautiful coded Christmas lanterns.  The projects Grand Finale will be taking place this week, and we do hope you’ll be able to join it in person!

·       Glow Your Own LED switch on (all ages); Friday 19 November 18:30-21:00

·       This is your chance to see the new supersized LED artwork for the first time using emojis, imagery of computer circuitry and retro computer games to create a new splash of light in Blackbird Leys that responds to your presence using QR codes.

·       You’ll be able to make your own small LED lamp in 2 minutes, and create your own lantern from recycled materials.

·       This is a free public open-air event at Blackbird Leys Community Centre (Oxford, OX4 6HW).

·       There is no need to book, but for more information, visit: https://if-oxford.com/event/glow-your-own-led-switch-on-2021/


Our friends at SCIO are running a panel discussion about the important issue of plastics in our environment:

·       Science vs plastics – A panel discussion; Wednesday 24 November 18:30

·       One of the most pressing global crises currently is the large-scale global production of plastic and its build-up as waste in the environment. The Centre for Enzyme Innovation (CEI), is trying to address this problem using enzymes: substances found within living things that speed up chemical reactions.  The CEI and focusses on research to combat plastics and deliver transformative enzyme-enabled solutions for the circular recycling of plastics.

·       To register, please visit https://scio-plastics.eventbrite.co.uk


We’re really looking forward to this year’s MINAR – this is a yearly event at our Boulby Underground Laboratory, where we use the Mine to test out experiments and techniques for extreme environments!  This year we’re going to be running some tests on rovers, to get ready to send our experiments to explore space.  We would love it if you could join us for our live link deep underground!

·       Exploring Space from 1.1 km underground (age 12+); Thursday 2 December 14:00

·       From deep in the mine, the Boulby Underground Laboratory team are taking part in a wide variety of science: from searching for dark matter and testing robotics for future space exploration, to studying different materials and investigating the possibility of alien life.  This event will take place during a very exciting project, MINAR (Mine Analogue Research). MINAR has brought international teams from NASA, ESA, India, and universities across the UK and internationally to study life in the deep subsurface and test planetary exploration equipment. The initiative has also hosted the NASA Spaceward Bound project and ESA astronaut training.

·       To register, please visit https://minar2021.eventbrite.co.uk


Our popular Talking Science series began in September and continues next week:

·       Talking Science – The Science of Dr Who (age 12+); Tuesday 23 November 18:00, by Karl Byrne

o   Dr Who is the longest running science fiction programme in the world, entertaining and terrifying children and adults alike for over 50 years! Keep your sonic screwdrivers close as mega fan Karl Byrne looks into the scientific possibilities behind travelling through time and space, regeneration and aliens with two hearts. Step into the TARDIS and get ready to meet Cybermen, Daleks and Co!

o   To register, please visit https://ukri.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_-QDHCGw4SZG8WgHl8EYcoQ

·       Talking Science – Marvellous microbes for plastics pollution (age 12+); Friday 26 November 19:00, by Dr Joanna Sadler (University of Edinburgh)

o   From the clothes we wear, through to tiny components of a mobile phone, plastic is present in almost every corner of our lives. Dependence on these useful materials has led to a vast build-up of plastic in natural environments, leading to a global crisis. Incredibly, nature has already responded with its own solutions to tackle plastic waste. This talk will explore how some microbes (microscopic living organisms) can ‘eat’ plastic, and how we can use this to design new methods to break down plastic.

o   To register, please visit https://talkingscience2021-22.eventbrite.co.uk

·       Talking Science – The James Webb Space Telescope: Preparing for launch (age 10+); Friday 17 December 19:00, by Paul Eccleston (Chief Engineer, RAL Space) and Dr Stephen Wilkins (University of Sussex)

o   The James Webb Space Telescope is the largest space telescope ever built and, after years of designing, building, planning and testing, it will launch on 18 December.  Webb is the scientific successor to the famous Hubble telescope, and will learn even more about the Universe: from the first galaxies to the air around alien worlds.  This talk will cover both the fascinating science Webb will undertake and the incredible engineering that has made it possible – including the testing for launch, some of which took place here at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

o   To register, please visit https://talkingscience2021-22.eventbrite.co.uk

·       Talking Science – The amazing 24 million intvertebrates and their associated scientists in the Natural History Museum (age 12+); Friday 28 January 19:00, by Dr Lauren Hughes (Natural History Museum)

o   The Museum is a world-class visitor attraction and leading science research centre. They use their unique collections and unrivalled expertise to tackle the biggest challenges facing the world today. They care for more than 80 million specimens spanning billions of years and welcome more than five million visitors annually. Over the coming seven years they are excited to undertake their largest move of naturally history specimens gaining an additional research and collections facility in the prestigious Harwell Science Campus. Come hear about these amazing invertebrates, our current researchers and the future of our natural history.

o   To register, please visit https://talkingscience2021-22.eventbrite.co.uk

·       Talking Science – How the world of the very small can help us tackle big problems (age 12+); Friday 25 February 19:00, Dr Chiara Decoroli (National Quantum Computing Centre)

o   The foundations of quantum physics were laid out 100 years ago and initiated a Quantum Revolution. The First Quantum Revolution saw scientists such as Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr and Erwin Schrödinger uncover the counterintuitive laws governing the world of the very small, of individual quantum particles such as atoms, photons and electrons. Nowadays, we are witnessing a Second Quantum Revolution: quantum technologies are entering our everyday life. Among them, Quantum Computers are expected to have a transformative and disruptive impact. In this talk Chiara will bring you along with her in a quantum computing laboratory, and show you how we can use individual quantum objects to solve incredibly hard problems.

o   To register, please visit https://talkingscience2021-22.eventbrite.co.uk


The launch of the James Webb Space Telescope is something we’ve been looking forward to for a very long time, and December will see its launch. Our next talk will be:

·       Building the James Webb Space Telescope; Tuesday 13 December 19:00

o   Starting as a junior engineer, Piyal Samara-Ratna worked in an international team of more than 200 engineers to support the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) through its 10 year development. MIRI is one of Webb’s four science instruments, and is so sensitive it could see a candle on one of Jupiter’s moons! Piyal is now the lead mechanical engineer for the instrument and played a key role in delivering it to NASA and connecting it to Webb for its trip to space. 

o   To register, please visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/building-the-james-webb-space-telescope-tickets-185921635617

You can find out more about the James Webb Space Telescope at the UK’s Webb website www.jwst.org.uk


Booking is also open for the Royal Observatory Astronomy Talks, which take place on Monday evenings at 19:00. 

·       To register for all talks, please visit https://www.roe.ac.uk/vc/public/astronomy-talks/

·       Missions to Near Earth Asteroids; Monday 22 November 19:00

o   This talk will describe the two recent missions which have taken samples at Near-Earth Asteroids, Hayabusa-2 at Ryugu and OSIRIS-REx at Bennu. Hear about the scientific results from the orbital phases of the missions, the dropping of surface landers, and how the material is returned to Earth. The talk will be illustrated with amazing images from these missions.

·       Black holes in the Universe; Monday 6 December 19:00

o   In 2015, a merging pair of black holes was directly detected for the first time. Since then, the number of detections has grown substantially. This talk will describe the new catalogue of black holes and highlight some surprising features that pose new challenges for our understanding of these elusive objects.


Normally, at this time of year, applications for our work experience programme would be open, with placements in the summer term 2022.  With the still uncertain national situation, we’re not quite sure how work experience will work this academic year, so we have not yet opened placements.  We’ll have an update for you about the programme by the end of the year!


We do hope you’ll be able to join us for an event soon.  If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact us at visitral@PROTECTED.


Best wishes,

The Public Engagement Team at RAL


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