40 Years and 40 Objects

The Department of Oncology is one of 40 people or institutions that donated an object to the ‘40 Years, 40 Objects’ exhibition, which opened today at the Museum of Oxford.

The Museum of Oxford is 40 years old this year, and to commemorate this anniversary and celebrate the modern history of Oxford, the museum is exhibiting 40 objects which have either been made or found in the last 40 years. The University of Oxford is represented by a piece of Frozen Lightning from the Department of Oncology.

Frozen Lightning is the Department’s name for a Lichtenberg Figure. It is made using a machine called a Linear Particle Accelerator or Linac which is housed at the Old Road Campus Research Building to help scientists undercover the way cancer cells repair the damage caused by radiotherapy.

As well as being very beautiful, Frozen Lightening symbolises the way the Department of Oncology brings together people from different areas of expertise to understand cancer better and help make tomorrow's cancer medicine more effective than today's. The Linac which made the piece of lightning was designed and built by scientists and engineers in the Advanced Technology Development Group and the Mechanical Workshop in the Department of Oncology. The machine is run with software developed in house, and works in combination with biologists to solve a medical problem. 

Dr Martin Christlieb, Public Engagement Manager in the Department of Oncology, who attended the exhibition launch event on Saturday said “This object represents what is possible when the right people unite around a human problem. The object is symbolic of the talents that work, unseen, in Oxford every day.

The free exhibition is located in the Town Hall on St Aldate's in Oxford and runs until 20 February 2016.

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