Popularization of Science

The Henryk Niewodniczański Institute of Nuclear Physics, Polish Academy of Sciences actively participates in public outreach events, which are organized on a regular and wide scale basis. Some of these events are held annually in collaboration with other scientific institutions. Each year our Institute takes part in the following important outreach undertakings:

Małopolska Researchers’ Night

Małopolska Researchers’ Night is by and large the greatest event devoted to the promotion of science in which our Institute partakes. Each year on that particular night IFJ PAN prepares a number of interesting attractions for participants, in particular:

  • several tents are put up on the green premises of our Institute to present achievements and activities of all six scientific divisions of IFJ PAN, including experiments with the participation of the audience
  • Constructor's Tent, where everyone has the opportunity to build simple models of devices, such as: spectroscope, hovercraft, periscope, kaleidoscope
  • Visit to the most interesting laboratories along the trail "In the labyrinth of science"
  • regular screening of popular science films as part of the "Scientific Cinema"
  • “Tricks of Physics" experiments in which nature reveals its magical face
  • ”Physics for adults" - a demonstration of physical experiments for audience over 18 years old
  • an interactive lecture "Where is the lsimit of serious physics?" combined with a demonstration of simple experiments that can become the nucleus of amateur research projects
  • a task game called Scientific hare and hounds, intended for the youngest participants and referring to the laws and physical phenomena encountered in everyday life
  • the so-called “Lamusownia” (a junk room) - an exhibition of old experimental instruments showing how physics was once practiced.

In 2020 and 2021, the Małopolska Researchers' Night was organized in the virtual space of the Internet.

The events included live broadcasts as well as video broadcasts prepared especially for this occasion, including:

  • demonstrations of experiments "Tricks of Physics by Dr. Dominika"
  • “Experiments of a Young Engineer"
  • participants' interviews with scientists of the "Physics Couch" on interesting issues related to physics, latest discoveries or controversial theories emerging in public space
  • The world through the eyes of a physicist - a few minutes long films recorded by scientists and doctoral students of IFJ PAN, showing both scientific and non-scientific aspects of the life of physicists
  • Meanders of science - video materials devoted to various issues and scientific ideas developed at IFJ PAN
  • Lectures from the series "Science Horror"

There were also numerous competitions and quizzes, the main subject of which was physics.

"Physics Couch” film series

A popularization campaign in which scientists from IFJ PAN answer questions sent by viewers, including those about time travel and the magnetic field in superconductors, about the differences between the Big Bang and a black hole, about energy from cosmic rays. The organizer and originator of the project was the Team for Popularization of Scientific Research of IFJ PAN. The videos are regularly published and made available once a week on the Institute's website, YouTube channel and Facebook social network.

Festival of Science and Art in Krakow

The Institute of Nuclear Physics, Polish Academy of Sciences has been participating in the Festival of Science and Art in Krakow for many years. The aim of the Festival is to present scientific and artistic achievements, to show the practical benefits of scientific progress and innovation and their impact on the quality of life.

Visitors to the IFJ PAN stand may, among others:

  • participate in the "journey to the beginning of the Universe", find out what the Universe is made of and what its fate will be
  • learn about research conducted at the European Center for Nuclear Research CERN
  • unravel the secrets of proton radiotherapy of cancer cells and learn how the cyclotron and therapeutic facilities at the Cyclotron Centre Bronowice (CCB) actually operate
  • find out what gravitational waves, dark matter and black holes are
  • find out how to "catch" cosmic ray particles using an application downloaded on your smartphone; in other words, what is the international CREDO (Cosmic-Ray Extremely Distributed Observatory) project, initiated at the Institute in 2016.

Scientific Picnic of the Polish Radio and Copernicus Science Centre

The science popularizers from IFJ PAN take part in the Science Picnic of Polish Radio and the Copernicus Science Center aiming to arouse curiosity and inspire people to individually expand their knowledge. In previous years, IFJ PAN popularizers put up stands where they presented information, among others about: the CREDO project, fusion reactors, accelerators and radioactive radiation and its impact on human health. The popularizers also showed films and interaction models to illustrate the above-mentioned themes. The theoretical foundations, experimental and didactic aspects at the popularizing level were discussed with the visitors.

"Physics is the key to understanding the world" project

The project "Physics is the key to understanding the world" is a two-year program dedicated to a wider audience of all ages to arouse curiosity to explore physics around us and beyond. The program was co-financed by the "Social Responsibility of Science" program of the Minister of Education and Science. As part of the project, a number of popular science shows were organized, including:

  • "Fascinating Physics" (series of shows in the form of live broadcast)
  • "CREDO and cosmic rays"
  • "Surprising Physics"
  • „Particle accelerators"

We also organized various games, e.g.:

  • „Understand physics"
  • „Look deep into the universe”

and competitions that were very popular among children and adolescents. The materials provided as part of the project were published and shared on the YouTube channel and Facebook social network.

IFJ PAN popular science publication - "Physics in hot pursuit"

The materials included in the popular science brochure were based on interesting achievements of scientists from the Institute, which were made available to the media in the form of press releases and presented on the EurekAlert!, a global science news service, run by the American Association for the Development of Science (AAAS) in previous years. The content of the book is divided into six main chapters, arranged thematically in such a way as to increase its readability. The research results of IFJ PAN scientists are presented in an accessible and succinct form. The book was published by IFJ PAN in Polish and English.

IFJ PAN Open Day for students

Each year we organize an Open Day for students, during which scientists present current offers of student internships and diploma theses, but also show laboratories, sample preparation labs and experimental equipment, as well as discuss and explain the research conducted in these laboratories. This gives a chance for individual meetings with potential tutors of student internships or diploma theses. Information about this event is disseminated among universities all over Poland and among research groups in the country.

Children's Day at IFJ PAN

For several years, the Institute of Nuclear Physics has been organizing meetings for children on the occasion of Children's Day. The program of the event includes: a show of surprising physical experiences - "Tricks of Physics", workshops on building models of molecules, a series of mini-presentations at which children can learn what sound is, what the methods of its extraction are, what its color is and finally what we can learn by counting words in a book. There are also laboratories available to visitors, where employees of the Institute explain how to determine the content of radioactive trace elements in the human body and how to study cosmic rays.

The Institute of Nuclear Physics,Polish Academy of Sciences also organizes and co-creates other events popularizing science, including:

  • International Workshop on Elementary Particle Physics for high school students in cooperation with IPPOG and CERN
  • IFJ PAN Particle Physics Summer Student Programme
  • "Particle Hunters” contest - team detection of secondary cosmic radiation particles and local radioactivity using smartphones equipped with the CREDO Detector application
  • “QuickPhysX" popularization competition - PhD students and employees of the Institute prepare short, easy-to-understand popularization presentations on any topic related to physics
  • visits to selected laboratories of the Institute
  • popular science shows, conducted by Wiktor Niedzicki - a well-known promoter of physics, and Dr. Dominika Kuźma from IFJ PAN
    The Institute also published a booklet containing descriptions and photos illustrating selected simple physical experiments for children, entitled "Wiktor's Fourth Laboratory”.

Every year, the Institute publishes notes on important scientific achievements, on the global scientific press service: EurekAlert! These accomplishments are made with the significant participation of IFJ PAN researchers and are published in reputable journals.

Moreover, the Institute is active on the social platform Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, publishing information and films on the achievements of IFJ PAN and the ongoing popularization activities undertaken by the Institute.

IFJ PAN scientists are often invited by numerous scientific and cultural institutions to deliver popular-science lectures, participate in discussion panels and conduct laboratory exercises. They also actively cooperate with the media by publishing their texts on popular science blogs, such as Crazy Nauka, or appear on television, e.g. in the TVP Sonda 2 program, or in radio broadcasts.