On 29 June 2022, the Star Wars universe came to Lymm Festival, a local summer festival, bringing families and friends together in a variety of organised events.
In this sold-out evening event, Prof Carsten Welsch, Head of the Liverpool Physics Department and Head of Communications at The Cockcroft Institute, presented what is science and what is fiction in the Star Wars movies. This included the physics behind the famous lightsaber, hyperspace, and of course…The Force.
The talk also linked the Star Wars universe to current research activities at the Cockcroft Institute and the University of Liverpool and showed how this can be (at least) as exciting as what is shown in Star Wars.
Using actual scenes from the Star Wars films and Star Wars characters, Prof Welsch examined some of the iconic technologies and concepts that feature in the films and show how they relate to the world of physics and connect to the research programmes that University physicists are involved in.
Amongst other technologies, Professor Welsch used the laws of physics to consider whether or not it is actually possible to build a lightsaber, the ancient weapon of the Jedi used to cut through blast doors or enemies alike.
He also showed how physics – specifically matter and antimatter interactions – can explain the light and the dark side of the Force which physicists are exploring in the antimatter research network AVA.
“Please come back – I want to bring my daughter. I think she would be inspired / engaged to think about studying physics.”
The event was a great success with 100 people from the local community taking part, some of them even travelling from Prescot, Wigan and Manchester to experience the talk.
The talk was accompanied by cheering, laughter and smiling faces and people had a fantastic time posing with the Star Wars characters before and after the event. With many of them wearing Star Wars inspired clothes and even bringing their own lightsaber along. The Q & A session after the talk was very well received with questions ranging from antimatter physics and medical accelerators to how to build your own working lightsaber and the parallel universe paradox.
Feedback from the event was exceptional, with one attendee stating: “Really great to see an expert science communicator at work – great CPD for an aspiring Physics teacher!” and another participant saying that the best thing about this event was “Learning about the real life application of particle acceleration and how local it is!”.
93% of the participants indicated after the event that they know about the use of accelerator applications in daily life, compared to 19% at the start of the evening. With 85% stating that they are now aware of Liverpool’s connections to a global community, compared to 20% before.
Prof Welsch and his helpers from the QUASAR Group had a lot of fun and couldn’t have wished for a better audience. A big thank you to the organisers of Lymm Festival and the wonderful group of volunteers for making this event possible.