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Physics Competition Prize winner

Visiting the ESRF in Grenoble

Madeleine Fletcher 13C shares her experience after winning a trip to the ESRF: "In June I was lucky enough to go on a trip organised by Warwick and Liverpool universities to the ESRF in Grenoble, a huge science experiment that fires high speed electrons round a cylindrical tube in order to create extremely powerful beams of x-rays, which are then used for the analysis of materials. This trip was the prize for a female-only, nationwide essay competition on the life of Ada Yonath, a noble prize-winning physicist. About 20 girls from across the country were chosen to go on this trip to see physics in action. We met at Warwick University for a day of ice breakers and basic research into the facility before we ventured to Heathrow airport where, after waiting in a very long line for security, we boarded our plane to Grenoble.

We then woke early to arrive at the syncrotron for 9am and after some security checks were allowed to enter the site. This site does not only contain the syncrotron but a nuclear facility and biological labs, used for research into new pharmaceuticals. We carried out some small experiments which demonstrated the basic concepts of refraction and absorption which are key to the much larger and far more complicated experiments ran by the 100’s of scientists from across the world at the ESRF. We were then taken a tour of the syncatron and the biological labs where we were given the opportunity to talk to many of the scientist working there. I found this the most beneficial part of the trip, as a group we asked questions about the science but also about the work-life balance of a scientist, how family life can tie into the work of a researcher.

After this long day we were given time to explore the beautiful town of Grenoble including a trip on the cable cars. Overall this trip was a great opportunity to visit a new place with a wide range of like-minded people from across the country and I thoroughly enjoyed it."