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Princess Royal visits Diamond Light Source Laboratories

Earlier this week, Anne, Princess Royal visited the Diamond Light Source Laboratories in Harwell to commemorate its tenth anniversary. The Queen opened the facilities a decade ago where the lights of this microscope, which omits light ten billion times brighter than the sun, were first turned on.

Her Royal Highness had to wear sunglasses indoors as she explored the laboratories. She also cut a ribbon on a new ‘beamline’. Diamond is the UK’s national synchrotron or a massive microscope.

A large ring-shaped particle accelerator is located at its centre. The ‘machine’ fires electrons at amazing speeds. The speed causes the light to be as bright as it is — ten-thousand times than the sun. This light then is aimed toward ‘beamlines’ shown in laboratories located around this ring. Scientists from several disciplines from all around the globe can use the microscope to study everything from drug molecules to catalysts for car exhausts, according to the Oxford Times.

One perfect example of this took place last year during the deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus in Africa. Using Diamond, scientists from Oxford University were able to map out the structure of the virus. This had never been done before then. Diamond Laboratory CEO, Andrew Harrison, accompanied the Princess Royal during her tour.

He told the Oxford Times and Her Royal Highness about all the successes Diamond has accomplished: “We give biologists essential information about the origin of diseases which can be used to develop drugs.

“We played a key role in the development of a foot and mouth vaccine, and we are helping in the development of anti-cancer drugs and antidepressants.

“This is the best place in the UK and the second best place in the world to do this research. And if the Princess met some bright sparks today, the next time she visits Diamond it might be even more sparkly.”

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