EGO, Virgo, and the Global Open Lab Days 2015

EGO, Virgo, and the Global Open Lab Days 2015

by Massimiliano Razzano (University of Pisa)


Light is a cosmic messenger, and much more. In Virgo, we use light as a tool to measure the spacetime and detect gravitational waves. That is why the scientists of Virgo participated in the Global Open Lab Days (GOLD) initiative promoted by the committee of the International Year of Light (IYL2015). During GOLD, labs across the world welcomed visitor to come and see how they study the nature of light or are using light to study Physics.
The European Gravitational Observatory (EGO) participated in GOLD and opened its doors on May 9th, for an entire day dedicated to Virgo and its scientific goals. The open day was a great success, with more than 300 visitors at the EGO main site in Cascina, near Pisa.


Visit in the EGO Hall during GOLD at EGO, May 2015

 Explaining the first prototype of Virgo superattenuator during the Global Open Lab Days at EGO, May 2015. (Credits: EGO & The Virgo Collaboration)

The day started with guided tours of Virgo from 10 AM to 5 PM. About 150 people attended the tours and learned what gravitational waves are and how Virgo and LIGO will open a new window on the Universe. “For EGO the popularisation of science is an important task and we always try to engage the local population and schools, showing the research we do for the experiment Virgo” says Elena Cuoco, researcher and coordinator of the Education and Public Outreach activities at EGO.

In the auditorium during the GOLD event at EGO (2015)

Listening to the Global Open Lab Day seminar at EGO, May 2015.
(Credits: EGO & The Virgo Collaboration)

There was also a special programme for the evening that started at 8:30 PM with a public seminar dedicated to the wonders of the Universe and the Virgo experiment. After the seminar, visitors had the chance to see a model of the Virgo interferometer and some interesting experiments about gravitation, including a modern version of the famous, yet fictional, free-fall experiment attributed to Galileo.
The programme also included guided visits to the control room of Virgo to see the status of the upgrades toward Advanced Virgo. Thanks to the telescopes of the amateur astronomers in Pisa (AAGG), the visitors could also observe Venus, Jupiter, and other celestial objects. More than 150 people gathered at EGO during these evening activities.

Some of GOLD EGO team! (2015)

Part of the staff for the Global Open Lab Days at EGO, May 2015 (Credits: EGO & The Virgo Collaboration).

For GOLD2015, we also inaugurated a special TwitterWall for EGO and VIRGO, which was shown in the main hall and in the Virgo control room. Everybody can contribute to this TwitterWall, by simply Tweeting us @ego_virgo.
“During the last months we have set up an office of communication on the site of EGO and a European group Virgo outreach, with contributions from every country of the Virgo collaboration, to improve our outreach activities”, Cuoco adds, “The event organised on the site of EGO on May 9 and its success is a great satisfaction for all of us who worked on the event organisation”.
Lot’s of kids and adults excited to learn more about Virgo and gravitational waves. Lot’s of questions, answers, and good science. This was how EGO gave its first contribution to the International Year of Light.

Massimiliano Razzano (University of Pisa and INFN-Pisa)

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