Much loved by staff and public alike, the 6th annual Australian Synchrotron Open Day was held on the Sunday, 14 October. 

Synchrotron Science for DummiesAs ever, it was an unrivalled opportunity for all the employees at the synchrotron to come face-to-face with the public and explain why we think the synchrotron is worth its weight in gold.   After weeks of preparation by the external relations team, and a good old clean up of the beamlines in the run up to the day, the synchrotron was looking its Sunday best for visitors.   This year, Open Day also flowed into the new National Centre for Synchrotron Science (NCSS) building, with the hourly ‘Synchrotron Science for Dummies’ introductory talks held in the new auditorium to packed houses.  During these talks, attendees were treated to a rundown of how the machine actually works and a taster of the science output so far.  


Within the NCSS, visitors to the synchrotron could also drop their children off at specially-run experiment sessions.  Delving into spectroscopy, kids from eight years of age made their own spectra glasses and observed spectra from five different elements before using this new-found knowledge to identify several unknown compounds.  Whilst the kids were exploring, the adults could have an inspiring look at the CSIRO Discovery Centre exhibition in the atrium, on loan to the synchrotron for Open Day, showcasing CSIRO projects undertaken at the facility.  This display was complemented by our new photography exhibition exploring the interaction of scientists and the machine, and a scale model of the synchrotron constructed by one of our accelerator physicists.   

After exploring the NCSS, Open Day visitors were able to wander into the synchrotron itself, where a red carpet led onto the experimental floor.  Guests could self-guide themselves through 10 stations, encompassing our beamlines, optics, accelerators and computer supports.  Station 1 was the Imaging and Medical beamline, our longest at 140m with a lighting display highlighting just how far the beam travels.   Visitors were then greeted by the accelerator group, who had opened the concrete door to the storage ring, allowing people to peek into the magnets that guide the electrons round the ring.   Next to the accelerator group was an exhibit by VeRSI, showcasing their MDkinect3 software which interprets movement.

 Imaging and Medical Beamline transfer tunnel 

Then came more beamlines, and as ever the teams were out in force with scientists about to answer questions and explain what they get up to on a daily basis.  Many of the beamlines drafted in their own novel ideas to explain what they do, with XFM’s cocktail umbrellas, MX’s wizzy presentation and PD’s memory metal adding to the visual displays.  In addition to the regular ‘back of house’ speciality tours hosted on the day, another new feature for 2012 were tours of the Imaging and Medical beamline satellite building.  The IM satellite building is in the final stages of preparing to welcome its first users in November, so those who managed to get a spot on these heavily oversubscribed tours saw a peek where many scientists haven’t!

Open Day hit the airwaves again this year, with 3RRR’s Radiotherapy and Einstein-a-go-go programs being broadcasted live from the experimental floor.  Set up right next to PD, a number of our own scientists and users were interviewed, enabling Open Day to reach beyond those who came through the doors.

It was a fabulous (if exhausting) day, which was enjoyed by everyone – see what this year’s visitors had to say...

“It’s a fascinating place – I’d like to bring my grandchildren next year”

“Information in Synchrotrons for Dummies was great”

“It was awesome and we had heaps of fun. Thank you for the experience! We love you, science!”

“The staff were terrific, friendly and informative - able to answer even weird questions.  I cannot think of any way to improve Open Day.”