The secret world of Teddington’s national laboratory will be opening its doors to the public in aid of Cancer Research UK.
Around half of the 388 laboratories housed in the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) will be open to the public and dotted with family-friendly, hands-on demonstrations on May 17.
Manned by 600 scientists, NPL is located in Bushy Park and is the UK’s National Measurement Institute, boasting the invention of the radar and the control of UK civil time, as well as many current research projects including new antibiotics to tackle resistance and more effective cancer research treatments.
Head of marketing Mary Harrison said: “NPL has been the secret body behind industry and a lot of things that happen in the world.
“Because we don’t take the credit for anything we do we pass it on to industry and commerce for them to then take to market.”
The event, which takes place every two years, is set to attract 4000 visitors –which is maximum capacity and 1000 more than the last event in 2016.
As well as amassing scientists and businessmen from all over, the event is very much geared toward the local community, with liquid nitrogen displays and how to make water rockets examples of the family-friendly demonstrations happening on the day.
Housed in the striking 17th Century Bushy House, Ms Harrison said: “A lot of people drive past the building and wonder what we do inside of it because it’s quite an impressive building.
“When we open our doors it attracts a lot of interest, which is really good especially for the local community because they always wonder what we’re working on.”
Their current cancer project, which was one reason prompting NPLs decision to donate all funds raised from the event to Cancer Research UK, looks at the “Google Earth of cancer.”
Just like you can use Google Earth to zoom so far into the planet that you can see the colour of your living room carpet, Ms Harrison says that NPL scientists are trying to do the same with cancer cells to understand why parts of the cancer cell survive even when targeted with radiotherapy.
She said: “Our scientists are there to help save lives, protect the environment and enable our citizens in the UK to feel safe and secure.
“So we’re basically there, and I know it sounds like a utopia, but it’s absolutely true I’ve never come across an organisation like NPL before, that has genuinely been put there for the greater good of the UK market.”