Outreach Events

The outreach event took place on Saturday afternoon, and was organised by Nils Andersson and Timothy Clifton. It was run by volunteers from Southampton, Cardiff, Glasgow and Queen Mary Universities. We invited 250 A-level and GCSE students and teachers to join us on the Queen Mary campus, where they took part in a number of interactive exhibits and displays, as well as getting a mini-lecture from Professor Andersson. The photos below show some of the exhibits, volunteers, and visitors from this event.


A demonstrator from Southampton illustrates the equivalence principle, that all objects fall at the same rate under gravity, with the use of a vacuum tube. The equivalence principle is of foundational importance to Einstein's general theory of relativity.

The Jelly Bean Wave Machine was used to illustrate the idea of a "gravitational wave". This is a wave in space and time itself, and is a necessary consequence of Einstein's general theory.



Shailee Imrith, a PhD student from Queen Mary, explains the exansion history of the Universe to a group of A-level students. Einstein's theory allowed cosmology (the study of the Universe as a whole) to become a scientific discipline, for the first time.

Viraj Sanghai explains how and why clocks appear to run slower when they move quickly. The loss of absolute time and space was one of the early results from Einstein's theory of relativity, and led the way to the description of gravity as a geometric phenomenon.



A student reads about ways in which gravitational waves can be used to view the Universe. These waves travel at the speed of light, but can be emitted from star systems that would otherwise be invisible (such as colliding black holes).

Charlie Pittordis explains gravitational lensing to an A-level student. This phenomenon occurs when light passes by a massive object. The gravitational field of the object causes the path of the light to be bent, in a similar way to the lens from a pair of glasses.



A volunteers explains some of the history of Einstein's theory of relativity, in front of a poster display that illustrates some of the key concepts and results.

A table-top interferometer was brought to our event from the group at the University of Glasgow. This machine interferes the waves of light that travel along its two arms. Interferometry is the key idea in many of the cutting-edge gravitational wave detectors that are now in operation.



As well as being the centenary of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, the year 2015 is also marks the 150th anniversary of Maxwell's theory of Electromagnetism. The piece of art, called "Maxwell's torch", was made to celebrate the occasion.

A helper from Cardiff University explains the "black hole hunter" game to a couple of A-level students. This game illustrates how physicists look for the signals of gravitational waves in the noisy data that results from modern detectors.



John Ronayne, a PhD student at Queen Mary, explains the physics of the Cosmic Microwave Background to a group of A-level students. This is the radiation that is left over from the hot stages of the big bang. It carries with it a variety of different pieces information about general relativity

Professor Nils Andersson, from the University of Southampton, lectures to a group of A-level and GCSE students about the basics of Einstein's Theory of General Relativity.


After these events, the A-level and GCSE students and teachers were taken to the Great Hall, to hear talks by Prof. John Barrow and Prof. Sir Roger Penrose.