Incredible Power of Light at Scottish Parliament



Heriot-Watt scientists ran a series of activities to share light-based research with the public.

Heriot-Watt scientists from the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences have been sharing their research with the public, and inspiring budding scientists at the Scottish Parliament as part of the Science & Technology Facilities Council's Incredible Power of Light Exhibition.

The exhibition centres around one of the world's most powerful lasers, the Vulcan laser which is 10,000 times more powerful than the National Grid. Alongside the laser are animations, interactive exhibits, hardware and displays that tell the story of how lasers impact on our everyday lives.

Heriot-Watt scientists ran a series of activities to share light-based research with the public.  Dr Jonathan Leach from the Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences (IPaQS) showcased his Creative Camera’s exhibit, with new technologies that make it possible to video the motion of light travelling through the air. The interactive display was a hit with audiences young and old, testing their reaction times against the speed of light.

The team from the Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering  (IB3), led by Professor Rory Duncan, showed  how glowing jellyfish let us see inside the tiny world of living cells.  From the expensive technologies of fluorescence microscopes to the budget smartphone microscopes, the public could see the cellular structures and understand how life and technology has evolved.

Dr Arno Kraft (Institute of Chemical Sciences) and Dr Nicola Howarth (IB3) were on hand to inspire future chemists, who could learn how to use a colorimeter made from Lego to see what is happening during a chemical reaction. Aliens were also a popular topic, with IPaQS Professor Derryck Reid and Dr Robert Thomson delivering a talk about the use of lasers in the search for alien worlds, a talk they are also delivering at Glasgow Science Centre this week.

The activities were part of a series of events coordinated by Heriot-Watt Engage as part of the UN International Year of Light.

The next events jointly run with the Scottish Parliament are:

PrintLite, Saturday 18 April, 11:00am - 4:00pm

The Chemically Controlled Cosmos:  From Soot to Stoor to Life! Professor Martin McCoustra, Monday 20 April, 7:00 - 8:00pm

Under a Different Light. Professor Daniele Faccio, Monday 27April, 7:00 - 8:00pm