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ESRFEuropean Synchrotron Radiation Facility
ILL Institut Laue-Langevin
PSB Partnership for Structural Biology
EMBLEuropean Molecular Biology Laboratory
IBSInstitut de Biologie Structurale
ILL, 2015
PSCMPartnership for Soft Condensed Matter
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French Science Festival 2010

Once again, for its 19th edition, the Fête de la Science encountered a great success with four days (21-24 October) of exhibitions, visits to labs and events. ILL and ESRF held a common stand at the "Village des Sciences" right in Grenoble city centre. The first two days were more particularly dedicated to primary and secondary schools.

On the ILL side, pupils were invited to taste several samples of drinks representing different tastes (bitter, salty, sweet, acid) before being explained how, using neutron diffraction techniques, researchers try to identify the taste buds responsible for the bitter and salty tastes in the mouth.

On the ESRF side, pupils could build their own pocket spectroscope (or rainbow box) from a matchbox and a piece of grating, and observe magnificent spectra produced from any of the sources of light around them. In total, more than 300 spectroscopes were made and taken back home with great delight. ESRF staff also performed a demonstration about supercooling: bottles of water cooled at -7°C were taken out of a deep-freezer with the water still in the liquid state, but once the bottle was knocked against the table, the visitors could see the water rapidly turning into ice. They learnt that water can be kept liquid down to -39°C!

Just in front of the ILL/ESRF stand, the Institut de Biologie Structurale (IBS) was present with cuddly toys, which attracted a lot of children. But these of course were much more than toys: they represented living organisms from which some proteins of interest are extracted and studied at the IBS.

The IBS organised two other events. They received visits from secondary school pupils at the institute and invited them to discover proteins essential for life. With the researchers, engineers and technicians of the IBS, they had the opportunity to visit laboratories, take part in scientific experiments and discover the world of living on the atomic scale. For the first time, the institute also invited primary school pupils to participate in one of three workshops (short experiments involving proteins and DNA) followed by group visits to laboratories. About 240 pupils took advantage of this opportunity to discover science or get information about careers in research.

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