Scientists from the Astrophysics Research Institute showcase their latest simulations of the universe at event

 Three people pose for the camera with Virtual reality headsets, Andrea Sante, PhD student at ARI ,Jaime Salcido Negrete, PDRA at ARI and  Jonah Conley, PhD student at ARI

Pictured L-R: Andrea Sante, PhD student at ARI, Jaime Salcido Negrete, PDRA at ARI, Jonah Conley, PhD student at ARI

LJMU Astrophysicists showcase to 6,500 visitors at Daresbury Laboratory Open Week event.

Astrophysicists from LJMU showcased their latest simulations of the Universe by participating in Daresbury Laboratory Open week.

Organised by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the Daresbury Laboratory Open Week is one of the largest public engagement events in the UK, taking place once every four years. This July, over 6,500  visitors  came onto the Sci-Tech Daresbury campus and were immersed in a vibrant and welcoming STEM atmosphere and learnt about the innovative work that is being done across the North West of England. LJMU researchers took part in the Wonder Marquee Science Fair, named after STFC’s Wonder Initiative which aims to connect people from all backgrounds with science and technology. The Wonder Marquee hosted the LJMU staff and students over the week from the Astrophysics Research Institute, FaceLab and the Art Science Masters, all of whom had many inspiring, hands-on scientific activities ready for visitors to engage with.  

Virtual Reality of the Universe and the Big Bang

The Astrophysics Research Institute (ARI) stall was extremely popular with the visitors, with the main attraction; the Virtual Reality headset, which immersed people inside a simulation of the Universe. Visitors could see the formation of a galaxy like the Milky Way unfolding from the Big Bang until the present day, and even interact with it. The simulation also contained ‘invisible’ dark matter and many wandering black holes. Another excitingfilm showed the visitors black holes merging and creating ripples throughout space-time. Staff who represented the ARI (Jonah Conley, Jaime Salcido-Negrete and Andreea Font) answered all manner of questions about the Universe to 1500 pupils aged 8 to 18 who visited in the first two days of the event.

Phill Day, Public Engagement Manager at Daresbury Laboratory said about the event:

“As well as a celebration of STEM, the Daresbury Laboratory Open Week was also about promoting diversity in STEM; showcasing facilities such as this as welcoming spaces for all and enabling people to see Scientists and Engineers as people like them. The Wonder Marquee was at the heart of this and enabled visitors to identify where they could go to engage further with STEM whether that be through exploring, education or even potential careers. The feedback that we have received so far very much suggests that the event succeeded on that basis, and it was a privilege to include the Astrophysics Research Institute at LJMU within this!”

Gemma Reed from the Research and Innovation Services at LJMU said:

“As the new Public Engagement Officer at LJMU, it was a pleasure to learn more about some the fantastic engagement work that comes out of LJMU, and even experience some of it for myself. The LJMU staff and students who took part in this event are passionate about sharing their amazing work with public audiences. The activities on offer were exceptionally engaging. Congratulations on a job well done to all involved!”


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