Once a year, the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington opens its doors to the public to show off the research they carry out there.

The laboratory studies how to measure things. It may sound simple, but these days, measurements are calibrated by ever more complicated, and hence accurate methods.

For example, a metre is no longer just the length of a steel ruler, but officially, the length of the path travelled by light in a vacuum in 1/29979248th of a second. So accuracy is important, and the laboratory has some clever equipment to show off.

The buildings at the laborary now contain 388 of the world’s most advanced measurement laboratories, where over 500 scientists perform cutting-edge research.

Some of the labs that will be open:

  • The International Prototype Kilogram and the Kibble balance, which will replace it next year
  • Biometric recognition lab – helping to test biometric systems for both government and industry
  • Optical atomic clocks – showing the development of the next generation in time-keeping

There will be a series of short talks throughout the day on NPL, measurement, different units of measurements and the impact of their science.

The open day takes place on Thursday 17th May from 2pm to 8pm.

Tickets are £3 for adults and children (under 16 years of age) go for free, and can be booked here.

The laboratory is a short walk from Teddington railway station.


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