Dive in the reactor and Nobel Prize lecture

Aktuell, Wissenschaft |

Several thousand science enthusiasts came to the research campus in Garching on German Unity Day. Together with 16 other institutes, the FRM II had opened its doors for children and adults on the Germany-wide day of the “Sendung mit der Maus”. And on top of that, there was even the first lecture by the newly crowned Nobel Prize winner in physics.

Children had a lot of fun playing a tossing game with neutrons. © Reiner Müller, FRM II / TUM
Several thousand visitors streamed through the Mechanical Engineering Department of the Technical University of Munich. The FRM II and MLZ booths were located right at the entrance. © Reiner Müller, FRM II / TUM
Tobias Neuwirth shows the children touring the FRM II experiments with liquid nitrogen. © Reiner Müller, FRM II / TUM

On October 3, 270 adults and 90 children enjoyed a guided tour of the research neutron source. This year’s tour led to the gallery of the neutron guide hall and to the visitors’ window with a view into the reactor pool. For the children, there were also live experiments with liquid nitrogen and an ice-cold surprise.

Scientific instruments made of Lego
Because the tours were fully booked weeks in advance and interest and demand for information are huge, FRM II and the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Zentrum traditionally offered insight into research with neutrons at a large information booth. Staff members used moving Lego models to show how the huge scientific instruments work and answered questions.

Diving into the reactor pool with virtual reality
At two throwing games, the amateur researchers could test for themselves how neutrons are selected according to speed and hit atoms. A brand new feature this time was virtual reality goggles, which visitors could use to explore the reactor pool of the neutron source without getting wet. Information on the future Castor transport of spent fuel elements was also not to be missed. FRM II radiation protection demonstrated at its booth how to measure radioactivity and even make it visible with a cloud chamber.

Nobel laureate gives spontaneous lecture
The venue was new this time: in the Mechanical Engineering Department of the Technical University of Munich, many other institutes offered hands-on activities, live lectures and experiments in addition to FRM II. A highlight of the day was certainly the spontaneous lecture by Prof. Dr. Ferenc Krausz from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, who was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Physics on October 3.

Top marks for guided tours at FRM II
How enthusiastic people were about what FRM II and the other institutes had to offer was shown by a survey in which 280 people took part. Top marks were given for the guided tours at FRM II. The organizers have already noted one need for improvement: “Next time there must be more food stands. All the food trucks were completely sold out by 1 p.m.,” says PR manager and co-organizer of the campus’ open day, Anke Görg from FRM II.

More information:

Participating institutions on October 3: