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City and Islington students make a cosmic ray gun

14 December, 2018 — By Helen Chapman, Max Aitchison

City and Islington College students in the lobby of the Institute of Physics, from left: Toma Kolev, Merian Alit, Zodiac Morris, Ella Reynolds, Jake Halliday, Dimona Viderlieva, Jonathan Licka, Albert Holloway and Lewis Brooks


Enterprising A-level students from City and Islington College constructed London’s first-ever cosmic ray detector on Monday. Built in partnership with the Institute of Physics – and installed on the roof of its new building in Caledonian Road – the contraption will detect cosmic rays falling to Earth from across the universe. Cosmic rays are extremely high-energy radiation, often originating from outside our solar system. Upon impact with Earth’s atmosphere, they can produce showers of secondary particles that scatter down to the earth’s surface.

Dr Jaap Velthuis, impact director for physics at the University of Bristol, explained the importance of building a network of detectors to catch the cosmic rays. “Cosmic rays have the same energy as a tennis ball after Andy Murray hits a good first serve but concentrated in one tiny proton. The interesting ones don’t come very often – only about one per square kilometre per year – so you need an enormous range of detectors. This will be one of many,” he said.

The students’ detector will become part of the HiSPARCs network – a huge collection of detectors spread across schools and universities in north-west Europe – and they will be responsible for its upkeep.

“HiSPARCs is a research project which allows A-level students to do real, publishable, high-quality research in cosmic ray physics,” said Dr Velthuis.

Aisha Frampton-Clark, 16, is currently studying A-levels in maths, physics and chemistry at City and Islington College. “It was really interesting being able to do something where we’d get real practical results and actual data we could analyse rather than something purely theoretical,” said Aisha, who plans to study engineering or physics at university.


Festive lunch for stroke survivors

Laura Prikken, Stroke Project manager, and Gavin McHugh, De Beauvoir Arms manager


The De Beauvoir Arms in Southgate Road treated stroke survivors to a festive lunch to mark the beginning of the season-to-be-jolly. The pub teamed up with hackney charity, the Stroke Project, to put on a free three-course seasonal lunch last Thursday.

Gavin McHugh took over The De Beauvoir Arms in 2013. He said: “Christmas is a time for giving back. Strokes can affect anyone and almost everyone knows someone who has been affected so putting on lunch for The Stroke Project which does such valuable work in assisting survivors and organising social events, seemed the perfect way to do it.” Stroke Project manager Laura Prikken said: “It can be difficult to lead a normal life after a stroke. Many people are disabled and may be living on their own. Having the opportunity to get out and socialise with other survivors is crucial to their well being and recovery.”The meal was part of Heineken’s Brewing Good Cheer Campaign, which encourages pubs across the UK to bring those in socially isolated situations together by hosting free lunches. To find out more about the campaign see:


Street artist’s knife crime message

Street artist Ben Eine and part of his STOP KNIFE CRIME mural


An Old Street wall has been painted in order to pack a punch. Street artist Ben Eine, known for painting large letters bearing simple messages, has unveiled a new piece of work in Old Street, saying: STOP KNIFE CRIME. The mural is near where Tom-Louis Easton, 22, was stabbed to death in 2006. Tom’s mother, Dolores Altaras, and his family founded the Tom Easton Flavasum Trust in 2007 aiming to steer young people away from knife crime by supporting projects that use the arts. Ben, who lives in Hastings and is known for his murals around the East End, agreed to paint the message on the 70x8ft wall for the Flavasum Trust for no fee.

He said: “The situation with knife crime is just getting worse and worse and people have had enough. More has to be done to prevent it. This has to stop.”

Peter from the Flavasum Trust said: “Ben’s paintings near where Tom was stabbed to death are a constant reminder to anyone passing along Old Street that something tragic happened there. When he first painted CHANGE, people were taken aback and wanted to know what it was all about. Ten years later knife crime is still with us and Ben still gives up his time. We love and respect him for that!”

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