Celebrating the wonders of physics

The Festival of Physics is a celebration of the wonders of science, the power of curiosity and the inventions and discoveries that shape our world and our future. During this years’ festival, students and staff enthused visitors with activities on complex fluids, particle collisions, chocolate workshops and a physics-inspired ceilidh.

Super SoPA

Undergraduate and postgraduate students and researchers presented ‘Super SoPA’: interactive activities illustrating the research undertaken in the School. Particle collision and astrophysics–inspired crafts were produced and visitors experienced smart materials such as rheoscopic and non-Newtonian fluids.

The physics of chocolate

Is learning about physics the perfect excuse to eat chocolate? Perhaps!  Colleagues teamed up with local artisan chocolate maker the Chocolate Tree to deliver the workshop ‘Choc Full of Physics’. It gave a tasty introduction to the wonderful world of soft matter physics and its connection with food by exploring the science behind everyone’s favourite treat. The tasting of different types of chocolate highlighted the importance of controlling physical parameters, from the size of cocoa and sugar particles to the speed of cooling, in order to get the most delicious chocolate. Visitors discovered that using physics can yield a wide range of textures in chocolate, to the delight of the apprentice food physicists in the room.

Dynamic Dancing

After the chocolate we needed to burn off some calories, so how about some physics-inspired ceilidh dances? Researchers Dr Susana Direito and Dr Xuemao Zhou created two dances about their work with the help of the Science Ceilidh band.  Visitors danced the ‘Biofilm riverside jig’ (adapted from the traditional Scottish ceilidh - the Riverside jig) illustrating research on biofilm formation and removal on medical tools, and ‘Shake before use’ illustrating work on the mechanisms responsible for the quality degradation of creams, used for instance in cosmetics.

The events were informative, engaging and fun.

The festival took place 26-28 October at Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh, attracted 3700 visitors and was organised by the Institute of Physics.