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Science Honours Academy


Symposium – Light

The SHA symposium on the 9th of February started at 18:15 with drinks and walk-in. After a short introduction the speakers were announced; first on was dr. Dries van Oosten, who gave a lecture on nanophotonics and the nature of light. He spoke about how light is constructed as both waves and particles. While the topic was specialized (e.g. a waving electromagnetic field that pulses with discrete energy levels), the speaker was able to bring his talk in a lively manner that allowed the audience to easily follow his thought process. He showed diagrams of research in which the energy of several thousands of atoms was measured which he coupled to pictures taken by a normal camera of how short lightwaves of high energy were distributed more widely in a narrow glass set-up than longer lightwaves of lower energy, illustrating that the principle of energetic ground states is also applicable to light.

The second speaker was dr. Sabrina Oliveira from the department of pharmacy. She spoke primarily about her own research into nanobody 7D12, which targets cancer cells and can be visualized by optical imaging. A nanobody is much smaller than a regular antibody and thus has many advantages, including faster concentration at the tumor and faster clearance of those nanobodies that have not bound to the cancer cells. Waves in the infrared part of the spectrum are able to detect the 7D12 nanobody up to a few millimeters under the skin without harming the cells, as the rays used in PET-scans and X-rays do. Clinically, this could revolutionize the process of diagnosing patients with (skin)cancer.

After dr. Oliveira there was a dinner break in the hall of the Ruppert building. Pizza was available and the participating students had the chance to socialize and discuss the previous two presentations.

Half an hour later, the next speaker began. This was dr. Andries Meijerink, and he talked about LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) and lasers. His talk was fun and there were many demos in between. He had brought fluorescent tubes with him and showed how different colours powder gave the light different colours. Unfortunately, due to time restrictions he was unable to perform his last demonstration.

The last speaker was dr. Diederik Keuskamp; his talk was about plant ecophysiology and how different light intensities, angles and wavenumbers influence the ‘choices’ plants make when they grow, e.g. in which parts they invest their sugars and thus their energy. It was a very interesting topic, and his powerpoint presentation was very clear and understandable, showing how the cells reacted to the light and what they did with the light available to them.

Then the presentations were finished, and there were free drinks and snacks available. Dr. Andries Meijerink performed his last demonstration involving a 50-euro bill and a special light, and then the evening was over.

The symposium was really interesting as there were many different approaches to light, most of which many students have never heard of. The evening was well-organized and the atmosphere gezellig. The speakers came from diverse backgrounds and each shed their own light on the topic at hand, which made for an interesting and memorable evening.