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Durham University

Durham University News


Spectacular light show celebrates new Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics

(1 March 2017)

Black hole image from Worlds, Systems & Creations

Stunning images of the cosmos will be projected on to one of Durham City’s newest landmarks to celebrate its official opening next week (9,10,11 March).

Called Worlds, Systems & Creations, the multi-media projection is a collaboration between artists and cosmologists.

It will form part of the opening celebrations for Durham University’s £11.5m Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics on Lower Mountjoy (formerly the Science Site), South Road, Durham.

Stunning images of the Universe

Worlds, Systems & Creations has been created by artists Ross Ashton and Karen Monid, with music by Isobel Waller-Bridge. It begins with the story of 18th Century County Durham astronomer, mathematician and architect Thomas Wright who was the first person to describe the shape of the Milky Way.

It also features stunning computer simulations of the Universe carried out at Durham University’s Institute for Computational Cosmology, some of which featured in The World Machine exhibit projected on to Durham Cathedral as part of Lumiere 2015.

Worlds, Systems & Creations is free and no ticket is required. It will be open to the public on Thursday 9, Friday 10, and Saturday 11 March, 6.30pm to 8.30pm. Each showing lasts eight minutes and there will be six showings an hour.

On Friday 10 and Saturday 11 March, visitors to the projection will also be able to learn more about the Universe through a series of outreach activities in the nearby Dawson Building, on Lower Mountjoy.

Tour of the Cosmos

Activities include the chance to build a Universe with the Universe Creator, take a virtual reality "Tour of the Cosmos" and watch the 3-D movie Cosmic Origins created by the Institute for Computational Cosmology.

Parking for visitors will be available in Durham University’s Elvet Hill car park, off Elvet Hill Road, and main Engineering car park on Lower Mountjoy, Stockton Road entrance. Both are a short walk from The Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics. A University map can be found here.

A series of talks to celebrate the opening of the new centre will take place on Thursday, 9 March, 3pm to 6pm, in the ApplebeyLecture Theatre, Geography (West Building), Lower Mountjoy, South Road, Durham. Speakers and topics are:

  • Professor Carlos Frenk (Durham University) – Cosmic architecture
  • Daniel Libeskind (Studio Libeskind) – Time in space;
  • Professor Hiranya Peiris (University College London/Oskar Klein Centre) – Cosmic collaborations;
  • Professor Mark Hannam (University of Cardiff) – Gravitational waves: the soundtrack of the Universe;
  • Lord Martin Rees (Astronomer Royal, University of Cambridge) - Progress and prospects -- what will we learn in the next 20 years?

Tickets are required for the symposium and are available free on a first-come-first-served basis from For further information please call +44 (0)191 334 9354.

Lord Rees will unveil a plaque to mark the official opening of the new building on Friday, 10 March.

Place of light

The new building for The Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics has been designed by renowned architects Studio Libeskind, New York.

It houses Durham University’s Institute for Computational Cosmology, the Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy and the Centre for Advanced Instrumentation.

The development was made possible thanks to generous donations of £3.35m from The Ogden Trust, whose Chairman is Durham physics alumnus and entrepreneur Sir Peter Ogden, £1.5m from The Wolfson Foundation and a further £900,000 from a private benefactor. Additional funding was provided by Durham University.

Professor Carlos Frenk, Director of the Institute for Computational Cosmology, Durham University, said: “The new building for The Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics is a stunning architectural gem in the beautiful city of Durham.

“We hope that many people will come and help us celebrate the opening of this new landmark and learn more about the science of the Universe.”

Leader of Durham County Council, Cllr Simon Henig, said: “Durham is at the cutting edge of innovation on many levels and this project is a tremendous example of what can result when science and culture combine. It is exactly this enlightening mix of technology and academia that is helping to build our growing national and international reputation as a place of light.”