5 August 2016 11:16

From the physics of fireworks to livestreaming from CERN, science met music at WOMAD’s first Physics Pavilion.

The aim was to reach out to a non-scientific audience in a new way by making science accessible and exciting to festival goers at WOMAD, a four-day world music festival in Charlton Park, Wiltshire.

Professor Roger Jones, Head of Physics at Lancaster University, Connie Potter of CERN Outreach, and Mr Mike Large, WOMAD’s Chief Operating Officer, came up with the idea for the Pavilion while Mr Large was visiting CERN, where Professor Jones works on the ATLAS experiment.

One of the most popular events was a discussion between Doctor Who executive producer Steven Moffat and Professor Jones about his work and the science of time travel.

Visitors were also able to listen to a different sort of playlist with a ‘cosmic piano’ that uses cosmic rays and particle data from the Large Hadron Collider turned into sound to create live music.

Professor Roger Jones, curator of the Pavilion, was delighted by the response to it.

“WOMAD has always covered the broad sweep of culture, but until now has not really brought in science. The appetite for more is clear: we have been asked to go back 50% bigger next year, and there is interest from the sister festivals around the world.

“Almost every one of the 18 sessions had to turn people away, and the session with Steven Moffat on Science and Doctor Who required the side of the tent to be removed to double our capacity.

“I am immensely proud of all our team that made for such a successful first Physics Pavilion at WOMAD 2016; it was an honour to curate it.”

Professor James Wild and Dr Sarah Badman, of Lancaster University’s Physics Department, were also involved in the Pavilion, running sessions on space weather and the aurora.

The Physics Pavilion was funded by WOMAD, Lancaster University, CERN, the Institute of Physics, and the Science and Technology Facilities Council.