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Life in a new light

Cutting-edge research into the use of light and optics in healthcare by the University of St Andrews will be showcased in a new state- of-the-art education programme.

Physicist Professor Kishan Dholakia will head the development of “Seeing Life through a New Light,” a lecture and interactive demonstration programme designed to be accessible to school pupils, adult groups, clubs and charities.

The £250,000 project, in conjunction with the award-winning exhibit design company FifeX, will show various ways in which light is used in biological and medical research. Funding for the project has been provided by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Various new scientific techniques will be on display, including examining specimens that would normally be invisible, and using lasers to make ‘optical tweezers’ to manipulate biological particles.

Some of the presentation will be based on an existing travelling outreach programme, the feedback from which has helped researchers shape the latest endeavour. Participants have been able to learn about diffraction and light with a collection of real hands-on exhibits including working ‘tweezers’ and the bending of light in prisms and water.

For the new programme, Professor Dholakia and his colleagues will add demonstrations of how microscopes work, endoscopes for imaging inside the body and a new method of ‘seeing the unseeable’ using light to examine biological specimens. The presentation will also include an interactive model of a cell and explanations of how light can now be used to help detect and treat cancer.

Professor Dholakia said, “It’s very important to enthuse and educate the general public in these areas of science that have a major impact on the quality of life. It will give everyone an exciting insight into the importance and relevance of research”.

‘Seeing Life through a New Light’ will include public lectures at the University of St Andrews, visits to schools and trips to national science festivals. The team hopes also create presentations for groups not generally considered part of the audience for such projects, such as the Rotary Club, the Women’s Institute of Scotland, and charities like Help the Aged.

The project will begin later this year. Enquiries for visits may be made to Kishan Dholakia on 01334 463184 or kd1@st-andrews.ac.uk or FifeX on 01382 554400 or interactive@fifex.co.uk

ENDS

Issued by Press Office, University of St Andrews

Contact 01334 467227 / 462529

Ref: life in a new light 170407

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