On the edges of London, in Teddington to be specific, sits the UK’s National Physical Laboratory. Not a sports facility, but a cluster of research labs that specialise in materials sciences.

In essence, their job is to make sure that measurements standards are maintained and that if a material is claimed to be able to perform under certain conditions, then they check that it does indeed do so.

It’s the modern version of the early Kirkaldy Testing Machine in Southwark.

Last year they held an open day to show off their shiny machines, and they are repeating it this year. Next month in fact.

Doors will be open from 2pm until 8pm on the 14th March 2012 – which is rather frustratingly, a Wednesday.

If you are lucky enough to be able to take the afternoon off work, then preregistration is here.

Other shiny science venues that have open days are:

Jet – the nuclear fusion research centre not far from Oxford. They have several open evenings per year, which can be booked here. My visit.

Diamond Light Source – a gigantic microscope that uses a particle accelerator to generate its beams of “diamond light”. Register here for their next open weekend at the end of March. My visit.

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