Launching the International Year of Light in Scotland

Anne-Marie Weijmans
Tuesday 3 March 2015

Last week Shine was present at the launch of the International Year of Light in Scotland, at the Royal Society of Edinburgh. The building was filled with different exhibitions and demonstrations on all aspects of light, spanning many different science fields. We had a room to ourselves for our ‘Music of the Universe’ exhibit, as we had warned them that we would be making noise.

Our Music of the Universe room at the RSE (credit: Tim Fitzpatrick).
Our Music of the Universe room at the RSE (credit: Tim Fitzpatrick).

We had two demos: one keyboard programmed to produce pulsar sounds, and one radio receiver to pick up (a very small part) of the cosmic microwave background. Many visitors had fun composing their own pulsar symphony and finding out how good a radio receiver they are, while hearing about the astrophysics of pulsars and the Big Bang. We also handed out Shine bookmarks, designed by artist Tim Fitzpatrick, and in the evening we enjoyed a performance by trumpeter Bede Williams of the Big Bang, by Scottish composer Eddie McGuire.

Bede Williams performing 'The Big Bang' on trumpet (Credit: Tim Fitzpatrick).
Bede Williams performing ‘The Big Bang’ on trumpet. (Credit: Tim Fitzpatrick)

There were many other displays combining light, music and art, such as the laser harp from the School of Physics and Astronomy in Glasgow, and a display on aerogels by artist Nedyalka Panova, who works together with the Synthetic Optics group based in the School of Physics and Astronomy in St Andrews.

If you missed our Music of the Universe exhibit, or want to hear more astronomy inspired music by Eddie McGuire, then please join us for our next activity, which is the Open Night at the University Observatory in St Andrews, between 6 and 9 PM. There will be star gazing with the telescopes (weather permitting), but we will also be there with our pulsar keyboard and radio receiver. And the St Andrews Scholarship Brass Quintet will perform ‘Orbit’, ‘Auriga’ and ‘The Big Bang’, followed by public talks on these topics by St Andrews astronomers. See you there!

PS: many thanks to Rita Tojeiro, Alistair Hodson, Duncan Forgan and Tim Hewlett, who were there in Edinburgh to help us with the demos, and to Claudia Cyganowski for making the radio receiver available!


The Shine Team. From left to right: Tim Fitzpatrick, Bede Williams and Anne-Marie Weijmans (Credit: Rita Tojeiro).

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