Back in 2013, more than 2000 people came to a disused ice well in the London Canal Museum to see a piece of art inspired by a particle detector and produced as an IOP-funded collaboration between artist Lyndall Phelps and particle physicist Ben Still.
In 2015, we teamed up with the Tate Modern on Light and Dark Matters, a festival themed around the International Year of Light that brought together physicists and artists in conversation, and in 2016 partnered with the Royal Opera House on an event about theatre acoustics.
Entwining ourselves with other aspects of culture such as art, music or sport makes it easier to introduce the uninitiated to the wonder and beauty of physics. We’re hoping to reach a million people by 2020.
Our new King’s Cross home is going to play a vital part in achieving this, both as a venue with its gallery space and auditorium and as a hub for public engagement activities that will tour the UK and Ireland, physically and virtually. King’s Cross is already playing host to activities like these. Our roaming public lecture series arrived at the Canalside Steps next to the Regent’s Canal towpath in early summer 2015, and saw CERN physicist Professor Tara Shears update an audience of 250 listeners on the latest news from the Large Hadron Collider. Public lectures are continuing with a series of Summer Sessions organised for this year, covering exciting topics in physics from gravitational waves to climate change.
We think of physics as a part of our culture – something that anyone can engage with or enjoy – and we hope that through our exhibitions, outreach, lectures and all the rest, more people will come to see physics in the same way.