One way RIKEN does this is by opening its doors to the public in its annual Open Days held at each of its campuses. The Wako Institute, RIKEN’s administrative headquarters and home to a number of its major research centers, greeted crowds of visitors to its Open Day on April 17 with an array of handson experiments and events, and more than a few surprises.
Each area of the campus covered different areas of science. Those who headed south were introduced to nanoscience, superconductivity, lasers and biotechnology. In the central area, visitors learned about brain science, supercomputing, molecular simulations and magnetism, while a trip eastwards brought encounters with heavy ion beams and nuclear physics. Venturing from lab to lab, visitors extracted DNA from broccoli, poked mysterious moving gels, estimated the age of their gut and played magic ball in a virtual baseball stadium.
The Open Day also featured two lectures by prominent researchers at RIKEN. Tohru Motobayashi of the Nishina Center for Accelerator-Based Science explored the mysteries of heavy ion physics through instruments at the RIKEN Radioactive Isotope Beam Facility. Naotaka Fujii, team leader of the Laboratory for Adaptive Intelligence at the Brain Science Institute, explored how brains communicate with each other and how this affects the design of technology for interfacing brains and machines.
Beyond the grounds of the Wako Institute, Open Day events also took place at the Tsukuba Institute on April 17–18, and later at the Harima Institute on April 29. The Yokohama Institute and Sendai Facility open their doors to the public later this summer, on July 3 and 31, so those who missed the events at Wako still have a chance to experience this unique event.