In the countryside not far from Didcot can be a found a stunning flying saucer of a building, which also happens to house the UK’s national synchrotron, and there’s a chance to go inside for a look.
A synchrotron is essentially a large particle accelerator, but rather than smashing atoms together to study them, as is done at CERN, here, they are used to generate powerful light beams that can be used to study the inside of materials.
And the entire facility sits in a huge silver ring building in the countryside.
Of importance to science, and commerce, the huge facility is a wonder of big machines that are used to study the microscopic. I visited in 2010, and had a great time there.
As the synchrotron is pretty much in use all the time, tours are limited to occasional open days — and the next one has been announced for Saturday 9th June.
A visit will take approximately 2/2.5 hours and will consist of:
- An introductory talk giving a general overview of Diamond and what it is used for.
- A guided tour – including a trip to see inside the synchrotron and the laboratories – note that extensive walking will be involved
- An opportunity to talk to Diamond employees and ask them about their work and the facility.
Due to demand for places, they are being allocated by ballot — and you can apply for up to 6 tickets here before noon on 4th May.
Buses from Didcot train station to Harwell Campus take about half-an-hour on route X32, but run only hourly on a Saturday at 21 minutes past the hour.