Mammoth program at tunBasel

In May, around 14,000 people visited tunBasel, ten action-packed days as part of the Mustermesse Basel trade fair. The SNI also answered the call to provide an exciting program of events for children and young people to tinker, experiment, and experience.

Dr Kerstin Beyer-Hans (SNI) and Dr Giovanni Nisato and Giorgio Quaranta (CSEM Muttenz) compiled a fascinating program on the subject of light that offered the many visitors a whole new perspective on the topic: Sunlight and artificial light don’t just brighten dark rooms – the white light can also be broken down into its spectral colors, making the world much more vivid. The dedicated SNI/CSEM team demonstrated this with the aid of a spectrometer. Visitors of all ages then made their own spectrometers in just a short time. Kerstin, Giorgio, and their many helpers were met with wide eyes and surprised expressions as they made chocolate gleam in rainbow colors. A nanostructure imprinted into lightly melted chocolate created the same effects seen on butterfly wings. The experiments with polarization film, which were open to everyone, were just as fascinating and showed the crowds of children, young people, and adults how bees and ants orient themselves without sunlight and how the Vikings used the polarization of light for orientation and navigation. Another highlight of the joint SNI/CSEM stand was the laser game, in which players had to guide a laser to a specific target using various mirrors. An impressive experiment also showed how laser light is used to transmit information.

This year’s tunBasel ran over ten days, each lasting nine hours. The University of Basel was represented by the Department of Physics for the first five days, after which the SNI and CSEM took over the stand. For Kerstin Beyer-Hans and her assistants, this meant a few long days of explaining, helping to build, and answering questions with very few breaks. We couldn’t possibly take part in events like tunBasel without the fantastic support of the students and doctoral students. Thank you!