High-throughput event

More than 600 'diplomas' were awarded to budding crystallographers for successfully fishing crystals! PHOTO: DESY 2015
More than 600 'diplomas' were awarded to budding crystallographers for successfully fishing crystals! PHOTO: DESY 2015


Energy, enthusiasm and endurance on tap as thousands attend 12-hour Hamburg Night of Science.

Of the 30 000 people who took part in the sixth biennial Night of Science Event in Hamburg, more than 18 000 made their way to the DESY campus between midday and midnight on 7 November. In the new PETRA III extension hall, the EMBL team of around 30 volunteers showcased the Unit’s structural biology research through games, tours and hands-on activities. The ever-popular crystal fishing game for children attracted hordes of budding crystallographers, players had a ball with the newly designed protein transporter game, and the queues of visitors wanting to explore protein structures and the beamlines did not wane over the 12 hours. Weary but satisfied, several of the happy helpers give their impressions of the event.

“I particularly enjoyed communicating and interacting with the visitors. It is invigorating not only to make complex science understandable, but also discussing various topics, from pure science to philosophy! In the end, the interests and questions of the visitors are as diverse as the people themselves – this is what makes an event like the Night of Science truly unique.” Fabio Dall Antonia, Scientific Software Engineer

“It was tiring but very fulfilling. It amuses me that the kids always want to fish the most difficult crystal and always ask what they can win – so competitive! I’m amazed how many people turn up to see and learn about our science.” Annabel Parret, Staff Scientist

“I am always delighted by the general public’s genuine interest during the Night of Science. The later it gets and the more exhausted we get, the more detailed the questions seem to become! This open day and DESY’s open campus policy contributes to a high acceptance of this research site in the middle of a large city.” Stefan Fiedler, Team Leader

He looked like he had survived Armageddon: exhausted, but victorious!

“I love the enthusiasm and happiness of the kids when they see the things we do on the campus for the first time. When they stop to spy protein crystals under the microscope, sometimes it’s hard for the parents to get them moving again – they want to see more and more! It’s fun explaining to visitors about our work; when someone tells you that they now understand things more, it’s what the Night of Science is all about. It’s also great to explore the campus among the beautiful lights and exhibits, and see so many families having fun – it’s like a summer festival taking place in November!” Claudia Hackenberg, postdoc

“Each time I went to pick up a new group for a beamline tour I was amazed how long the queue was. Giving the tours was great fun – people were so fascinated and asking loads of questions. At midnight I saw one of the group leaders who had also been giving beamline tours taking a two-minute break. He looked like he had survived Armageddon: exhausted, but victorious!“ Sophie Zimmerman, postdoc

The city’s Night of Science and DESY Open Day take place every other year in November. Expect more fun and games in 2017!