Europe | United Kingdom (UK), Great Britain | England | North West | Cheshire – It’s travel Jim, but not as we know it.
We’re a couple of whirling dervishes at the moment, my mother and I, doing our best to cram as many sights into our limited budget as possible. The list so far reads something like this…
The Millemium Wheel (London), Downe House (home of Charles Darwin), York, a drive through the Yorkshire Dales to the Windermere, a whip-around the lake district, Carlisle Castle, Hadrian’s Wall… hmmm, it’s getting a little boring.
So I guess the real highlight has been an off the cuff visit to the Synchrotron at the Daresbury Laboritories in Cheshire. My mother is a science teacher, and when we were planning this trip I asked her what sort of thing she was most interested in, and the response was ‘science’!
One of my good friends happened to have spent two years doing post-doc research at Manchester University, part of which research included several stints at the Daresbury Laboritories on the Synchrotron. Although he has now returned to Austrlia, we happened to pass very near Daresbury on our way from the Lake District to Wales, so we decided to make a spur of the moment visit.
The gatekeepers were very friendly, interested to hear we were from Australia and how we had come to visit the installation. Despite the fact that the lab was on amber alert as a result of September 11, we were allowed in and given a personal guided tour by Anne Humprhies, the Education PR Officer, which lasted over an hour. We saw the control room where the technicians do their best to keep the synchrotron up and running. They keep the huge (90m diameter) synccrotron ring and the smaller booster ring at a near vacuum in order that they can send electrons whizzing around the ring at nearly the speed of light. We saw an example of the huge magnets which are used to make the electrons change direction slightly, in the process of which they give off energy of all levels, from X-Rays to Ultra-violet and infra-red light. This energy is channelled down beam-lines to research stations where scientists from all disciplines can do their research. This has involved an extraordinarz range of experiments, from determining the structure of a virus to working out the exact conditions under which the creamiest tasting chocolate needs to be made.
Anne then showed us the science education centre, and showered us with literature, then it was back to the gatehouse for a cup of tea with the guards, and then we headed on our way to Snowdonia.
Not exactly one of the standard tourist stops in this part of the world!