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  • Seeing the Light: UW Madison Science Fair Illuminates Hundreds about the Science of Synchrotron Light

    John Morgan, Science Writer, UW Madison Synchrotron Radiation Center

    April 3, 2006

    "Step right up and try on a pair of cool glasses!" exclaimed Chris Moore, outreach coordinator of the SRC during the UW Madison Science Expeditions fair, an event for the public to learn about the myriad of science programs at the university.

    Science Expeditions PresentationOver the course of three hours on a rather gloomy Wisconsin springtime Saturday afternoon, Moore illuminated the eyes and minds of hundreds of families that stopped by the SRC booth.

    "Whooooa!" was probably the most common retort to the flip of the switch of the neon bulb that accompanied Moore to the booth and allowed visitors to see how each element exhibits its own spectral "footprint."

    "I work at a place that makes light," explained Moore to the dozens of groups that congregated before him. "We use a tool like this to do science experiments. So, let's do an experiment using light!" Science Expeditions

    The idea for the day was to show visitors that light is much more fascinating than the white light that we see. And, that the various spectra that different elements exhibit allows scientists to interpret and understand a diverse array of research questions, from materials science to biological applications.

    Having fun was important, too. And, judging from the hundreds of people who visited the booth, talked with Moore and threw back a jellybean or two, it worked.

    The several questions by adults who visited the booth included: you're located where? You use this thing to do cancer research? Why haven't I ever heard of this place?

    And this was precisely why, dressed in snoopy tie and button-down shirt and donning diffraction glasses, was Moore to spread the word of synchrotrons.

    "I love this stuff!" he said at the end of the long day, seemingly ready to spend a few more rounds spreading the word about the world of light.


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