My contribution to a thing at Questacon

It was called ‘Night Rocks After Dark‘ and I was trying to make crystallography interactive.

We assembled some hair. (See this link.) Two laser pointers, no higher than class 2, a CD, an LP (someone asked me what it meant — ‘long player’), a 78 and a 45.

Songs to learn by

Cover of 78rpm record…

Some balls, lots of balls, some blocks, not so many but still quite a few. I talked about stacking balls to make hexagonal close packed and face centred cubic structures, talked about how you can’t just ‘zoom in’ forever to see how atoms are arranged, which leads into diffraction as a way to see the too-small-to-see, and a proof of concept by looking at diffraction from CD, records and hair.

Simple gear to measure width of hair.

Simple gear to measure width of hair.

Talked about how important structure is — graphite and diamond are both carbon, for example (had models).  Would not want to use powdered diamond as a lubricant…

Diamond and graphite.

Diamond and graphite.

Talked about how when you stack up cubes you can only make faces with certain angles, which was some of the first evidence that solids were made of unit cells.

Cubes to make a pyramid.

Cubes to make a pyramid.

Note: There are no people in the pictures not because I got no interest but because it is not legally simple to use pictures taken in a place like Questacon of people who may not want their images published.

I got some interest. Not a massive amount, but enough that I gave up counting.
A couple of visitors were very interested, and the balance was not bad between having too many people to really engage with properly (since it was very much a hands-on set up) and too few to keep me busy.

Would have been nice if there were a few more, but it was still worthwhile.

The crew at Questacon are enthusiastic and helpful, and it was a pleasure working with them. I’d like particularly to thank David Cannell and Patrick Helean.

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About Darren

I'm a scientist by training, based in Australia.

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