University of Leicester marks the first day of British Science Week 2015 with classic science experiment on March 13

University of Leicester project to replicate the Doppler Effect on Friday 13 March for British Science Week

Leicester, UK, 11-3-2015 — /EuropaWire/ — Schoolchildren from the East Midlands will be jumping on board a steam train on Friday 13 March to perform a classic science experiment as part of a University of Leicester project to mark the first day of British Science Week 2015, taking place between 13-22 March.

Students from Limehurst Academy, Woodbrook Vale High School and Charnwood College, will be boarding at Loughborough Station on the Great Central Railway and will be riding the train to Quorn Station, where they will be replicating a classic science experiment originally performed by a Dutch scientist, Christophorus Henricus Didericus Buys-Ballot, in 1845 that provided the first experimental confirmation of a physics phenomenon called the ‘Doppler Effect’.

The event has been coordinated by STEM Ambassador, Dr Emma Chung from the University of Leicester’s Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, and the STEM Team at Leicestershire Education Business Company (LEBC) in partnership with the Great Central Railway and hopes to inspire young people to consider careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

In the original experiment Buys-Ballot placed a group of musicians on a train and asked the driver to rush past him as fast as he could while the musicians played and held a constant note.

Listeners on the platform were able to detect a change in the pitch of the note – called the ‘Doppler shift’ – as the train passed them. Measurement of the Doppler shift makes it possible to estimate how fast an object is moving, which is useful for detecting blood flow through arteries, speeding cars and how fast the universe is expanding.

In this re-enactment of Buys-Ballot’s original experiment, which is funded by the Wellcome Trust, students will be using electronic recording equipment to measure the frequency of the sound from the train and calculate how fast the train is moving.

For comparison, the speed of the train will also be measured using speed guns provided by Leicestershire County Council.

Dr Chung, who is organising the event said: “Our ‘hands-on’ Science Week provides a brilliant opportunity for students to see science in action, and for people of all ages to talk to find out more about how our lives and understanding of the universe have been shaped by the Doppler Effect.”

Doppler’s theory was later expanded to include light, using Albert Einstein’s theory of Special Relativity, and now provides a vital tool for mapping the motions of stars in the Milky Way.

The event is funded by the Wellcome Trust and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and is organised by the University of Leicester in collaboration with STEMNET and Leicestershire Education Business Company, the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, the Institute of Physics (IoP), Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM), Great Central Railway, Leicestershire County Council, British Medical Ultrasound Society, National Space Centre, the British Science Association and ASDEC, the UK’s first commercial 3D vibration consultancy and modal analysis centre based upon advanced, non-contact laser Doppler vibrometry measurements and supported by experts at the University of Leicester.

This concept will be explored further in a free public lecture on Wednesday 18 March entitled ‘From inside the body to outer space using the Doppler effect’ held at the National Space Centre Planetarium at 7:30 pm.

The lecture will see Dr Chung demonstrate how the Doppler Effect can be used to measure blood flow through arteries using ultrasound, with a live demonstration provided by special guests from the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.

This will be followed by juggling Astrophysicist Dr Mark Wilkinson from the University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy exploring how Doppler’s theory was later extended using Albert Einstein’s theory of Special Relativity to analyse the light from distant stars.

Dr Chung added: “These events link past scientific achievements with modern day research and medical applications, which we hope will inspire the scientists of the future. We hope everyone who takes part in these events will come away with a sense of enthusiasm and passion for scientific discovery.”

British Science Week taking place 13-22 March is a UK-wide programme of events and activities, aimed at people of all ages, to celebrate science, technology, engineering and maths.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

For more information please contact Dr Emma Chung at emlc1@leicester.ac.uk

About the Great Central Railway:
The Great Central Railway (GCR) is a heritage railway in Leicestershire, named after the company that originally built this stretch of railway. The GCR is currently Britain’s only double track mainline heritage railway, with 5.25 miles (8.45 km) of working double track, period signalling, locomotives and rolling stock. It runs for 8.25 miles (13.28 km) in total from the large market town of Loughborough to a new terminus just north of Leicester.

Four stations are in operation, each restored to a period in the railway’s commercial history, the 1950s Loughborough Central, Second World War and the remainder of the 1940s Quorn & Woodhouse, the Edwardian Era Rothley and the 1960s Leicester North.

The event is funded by the Wellcome Trust and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and is organised by the University of Leicester in collaboration with STEMNET, the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, the Institute of Physics (IoP), Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM), Great Central Railway, Leicestershire County Council, British Medical Ultrasound Society, National Space Centre, and British Science Association.

About British Science Week:
British Science Week (BSW) is a ten day celebration of the best of British science, technology, engineering and maths – featuring fascinating, entertaining and engaging events across the UK.  This year, British Science Week takes place from the 13th to the 22nd of March 2015.

PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: The Doppler train leaves Loughborough Station on Friday 13 March at 10:00am. The experiment will be performed at Quorn station from 11:00am – 12noon. Please contact Dr Emma Chung to arrange on emlc1@leicester.ac.uk

  • Free family-friendly public lecture taking place at National Space Centre Planetarium on Wednesday 18 March at 7:30pm invites people to learn about the Doppler Effect and its modern uses in Medicine and Astrophysics

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