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Physics Teacher Meeting on ESA, Quantum and New Science Campus

Bert van der Hoorn organized the triannual meeting for over 60 physics teachers and interested researchers on a multitude of subjects. Speakers included Volkskrant science journalist Martijn van Calmthout, project manager of the new science campus Tom Westerhof, Henk Buisman from LION’s teaching department and SRON director Roel Gathier.

Gathier kicked off the evening by explaining the way in which ESA missions are designed and approved. The obligatory contributions of the member states add up to 500 million euro, but additional spending pushes ESA’s budget to 4.4 billion. This money is divided over space missions of various scales. Large missions cost typically 1 billion euro and are led by ESA headquarters about once every 6 years. Medium-sized programs cost 550 million and are executed at twice that frequency. This still leaves a large budget for several smaller missions of different magnitude. ESA’s long-term program is built around four main questions; ‘How does life form?’, ‘How does our Solar System work?’, ‘What are the fundamental laws of physics in the Universe?’ and ‘How was the Universe created?’.

After the dinner break, Henk Buisman took the stage to introduce his new website on quantum classroom experiments. Teachers can select an interesting experiment and take their students to LION to learn about the quantum world through enquiry-based learning.

Martijn van Calmthout spoke about his motivation to write his new book ‘Echt Quantum’, in which he explains quantum mechanics to none other than Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr. Since their deaths mid twentieth century they missed out on several important discoveries, so they have some catching up to do. Van Calmthout meets these two greats at a historic location; hotel Metropole in Brussels, famous for organizing the Solvay conferences.

When the evening turned into night, Tom Westerhof elaborated on his project to build the new building for Leiden’s science faculty. On February 23rd of this year the first phase will officially be completed, to be followed in 2020-2021 by the completion of the second phase, and eventually a third one. Among others, the building will contain an almost vibration-free lab, enabling scientists to conduct experiments with great precision. Zuid-Holland’s soft clay soil makes this extra difficult. Still, the lab will experience the second least amount of vibrations in The Netherlands.

Publ. 27-01-2016 15:32
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