Giants of the Infinitesimal

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Sch of Physics & Astronomy


The 21st century is at the beginning of a scientific revolution that will alter the world as radically as the industrial revolution of the 19th century. Whereas the latter rested on the control and engineering of macroscopic objects the new revolution will require the understanding and control of the nanoworld. Controlling nanocomponents lies at the heart of, for example, the clean harnessing of solar energy, the development of smart materials, and the realisation of entirely new concepts in computing. Thus, nanoscience and nanotechnology are buzzwords that are as rife on the academic campus as they are in industrial research laboratories. However, research in nanoscience and nanotechnology has been accompanied by public concerns and much debate has ensued. This debate is necessary and important but it has all but drowned out the sheer excitement, adventure and creativity of probing, understanding and, ultimately, controlling the nanoworld. This project will create an exhibition and public dialogue events that will introduce some of the most interesting and important concepts that drive the nanoworld to the public in a highly accessible and attractive way.


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Description As part of the "Giants of the Infinitesimal" project, eight researchers from Nottingham - two of the Co-Is on the grant (Moriarty and Jones), two postdocs, and four PhD students, and three researchers from Sheffield (Cadby, also a co-I, and two PhD students) organised and ran a series of interactive demonstrations as part of Manchester Science week. Approximately 500 people, including many family groups, visited the "Meet the scientists" event. The level of enthusiasm amongst younger children for the demonstrations (including ferrofluids, photochromic beads and solutions which change colour on exposure to UV light, and a variety of liquid nitrogen experiments) was particularly noteworthy (and gratifying!). Beneficiaries: General public Contribution Method: Directly informed development of demonstrations. "Giants of the Infinitesimal" (EP.G063273.1) is a Partnerships for Public Engagement grant and, thus, its primary outcomes are associated with public engagement. The Giants exhibition, developed via funding from EP.GT063273.1, is described in detail at and has been installed at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) since Oct. 2011. The exhibition's success at MOSI led directly to it being embedded within the Magna Science Adventure Centre in Sheffield (from May 2012). Note that *all* members of the Giants team contributed to the development of the exhibition, but that the construction of the exhibits was carried out by Theo Kaccoufa and Tom Grimsey. My role was as a participant/co-organiser. The Giants exhibition enables fun and interactive insights into the non-intuitive physics of the very small. It both enthuses and educates school-children, family groups, and members of the general public with varying levels of scientific knowledge/background. Beneficiaries: Wider public Contribution Method: The development of the exhibits was informed by the research of the scientists involved with the "Giants..." exhibition. [Note that the 'date first materialised' given below is the date the exhibition opened. Whether this correlates directly with the date of the first 'materialisation' of impact is a moot point.]
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

Description Giants of the Infinitesimal 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact See
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011,2012,2013