Young researchers disover microscopy, lasers and light spectra at MPSD Girls' & Boys' Day

April 10, 2019

The MPSD had promised 'Ultrafast Lasers and Ultracool Physics' for the 2019 Girls’ & Boys’ Day – and those who took part were not disappointed! Twelve school students worked with a high-powered microscope, steered a laser beam, analyzed the color spectrum of light and gained many insights into the daily research work that goes on at the MPSD. A fascinating and literally 'ultracool' encounter with liquid nitrogen rounded off their day.

Two Girls' Day participants discover the pixels of their mobile phones under the microscope under the supervision of Alexander von Hoegen

One group prepared single hairs with much concentration in order to examine them under the microscope. It came as a surprise that hairs of different colors also have a different structure! A few doors away, the girls learned how to set up lenses and mirrors so that a laser beam can reach a target. Even hand-built spectroscopes were deployed. The girls used them to investigate a range of light sources and their color components – from tea lights to their mobile phones.

Single hairs were enlarged up to 2000 times under the atomic force microscope

The event gave the 11 girls and one boy a practical introduction to the world of physics and its smallest dimensions, says group leader Guido Meier:

“Who knows, after all, the size of a transistor in a smartphone or the cross section of one of the receptors in a fly’s eye? Or that of a human hair? The participants really enjoyed their work. They learned just what a diversity of structures and forms can be found in the smallest things and developed a hands-on understanding of micro- and nanometers in the process.”

Girls’ & Boys’ Day was set up to introduce young teenagers to occupations which are dominated by the opposite text. The MPSD and the Max Planck Society are committed to attracting more excellent women to research posts and senior scientific positions.

One of the girls steers a laser beam towards a target
Using hand spectroscopes, the girls examined the color spectrum of various light sources
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