Christmas Lights and Lasers Bright

Tennison Photography, Warwick UniversityAnother enormously popular season of Christmas lectures at Warwick has just finished. Six nights of fantastic new ideas, explosions and experiments were enjoyed by more than 2,800 people. The lecture series was originally conceived in 2011 by former Ogden Science Officer Ally Caldecote and comprised a single physics lecture. The series has now grown into an annual STEM extravaganza!

Ally Caldecote & James Lloyd-Hughes (Physics) took an audience of more than 400 adults, families and schoolchildren on an exciting journey through Christmas Lights and Lasers Bright, exploring the dramatic and inspiring world of colour and light, from explosions caused by lasers, to the Northern Lights of Santa’s homeland.

"It's fantastic to see people's responses when they see the true beauty and excitement of science. It helps you to understand all the things around you – everyday things that we often take for granted. When you understand science, the world just seems like a more beautiful place," says Ally.

Tennison Photography, Warwick UniversityTennison Photography, Warwick UniversityTennison Photography, Warwick University

Steve Maggs from Warwick Manufacturing Group enjoyed a Catastrophic Failure with his audience. He took the opportunity to smash up a few things on stage as he explored the science behind materials and their mechanical properties. The Bruker Warwick Christmas Lecture: Biggest Bangs with Andrew Levan (Physics) took a packed auditorium across our Universe: five stars explode every second and Andrew explained how they blow-up, how
we see them, and why we are only alive because of them. Nick Barker of the Warwick Chemistry Department
presented the science behind some of the energy sources we take for granted in our everyday lives. Give Me Strength, contained practical demonstrations and a number of bad jokes.

In Life Off Earth, Kevin Moffat & Leanne Williams (Life Sciences) considered where we might find food and water as we journey through space, asking how we might protect ourselves and find oxygen. And answering the question, is there life out there? The Bosch Automotive Warwick Christmas Lecture 2015 concluded this year’s Tennison Photography, Warwick Universityseries: What Makes a Robot…a Robot? Claire Rocks (Computer Science) and Adrian Letchford (Warwick Business School) investigated why robots are good at some things and bad at others, and how can we harness some of nature’s solutions to make even better robots.

As Ally Caldecote concludes: "It's been amazing to see the enthusiasm and appetite for these Christmas Lectures – it's grown every year for the past five years. People love to see what happens in a university science department, and have it explained to them in terms they can understand. Bringing together curious families, school children and public with cutting edge research scientists is a fantastic job, and results in something that is enjoyable for everyone!"


Photography: copyright Tennisons Photography, University of Warwick