Can you tell the difference between Quarks and DNA?

A survey commissioned by the Institute of Physics (IoP) has found that a staggering 98 percent of UK adults don't know what the world around us is made of. Just under two percent of those asked gave the right answer, quarks, the basic building blocks of all matter in the universe. The survey asked over 500 people what makes up the nucleus of an atom, and reveals a surprising lack of knowledge of nuclear physics which generates almost 25% of the UK's electricity supply, and provides the isotopes used in over 27,000 medical procedures every day.

Next week (Monday 5th April) nuclear physicists will gather in Edinburgh to discuss the latest advances in our understanding of these fundamental particles. The IoP Nuclear Physics Conference will examine the latest research into the nuclei of atoms what they are made up of, how they hold together, where and how they are made in stars, and how this knowledge can be used in applications that directly benefit mankind.

Dr Jim Al-Khalili, from the University of Surrey and a speaker at the conference, said: "Studying the nuclei of atoms will unlock some of the deepest secrets of the universe, helping us to understand how all the matter we see around us was created, how the universe evolved and how it will ultimately end. Just as importantly, the applications of this sort of research in nuclear medicine is at work in hospitals every day saving lives and its applications are a vital aspect of building safe, sustainable energy resources for the future."

Highlights from the conference programme:

    WIMPS in Yorkshire? Boulby salt mine key in search for dark matter
    The Exotic Nuclei Factory
    How many quarks in an atom? Discovery of pentaquark turns existing theory on its head
    Death by quantum tunnelling?
    Liverpool team to boost ability of hospital positron emission tomography (PET) scanners
    Making nuclear power safe through alchemy: the transmutation of nuclear waste produ

Contact: David Reid
Institute of Physics

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