Instituto de Óptica “Daza de Valdés”

Science Week Activities of the Institute of Optics


Madrid / October 30, 2023

The “Daza de Valdés” Institute of Optics actively participates in Science Week every November, as do the majority of centers and institutes that the CSIC has throughout Spain.
Science and Technology Week is the most important scientific dissemination initiative in many autonomous communities. Since 2001, it has been organized nationally with the objectives of bringing science to the public of all ages, stimulating a taste for scientific knowledge and encouraging citizen participation in scientific issues.
Its main characteristic is that institutions and research centers open their doors for two weeks so that citizens can visit them and learn about the latest advances in science and the main lines of research that scientists are developing.
Below are the activities we organized this year:


La visión humana: qué sabemos, qué no sabemos, y cómo esto limita los avances en inteligencia artificial

This talk has an informative focus and is aimed at the general public, but we consider that it is also of interest to students and researchers. We will begin by talking about the biological bases of vision and explain that, although there is knowledge that is well established, there are many things that science has not yet been able to explain.
Next we will talk about visual perception, the scientific models that exist to explain perception, and the important limitations of all of them, which are often revealed when we observe visual illusions.

Finally, we will comment on how the incredible advances in artificial intelligence in recent years are based on using systems, called artificial neural networks, whose elements imitate the functioning of visual neurons but in a very simplified way: what we find is that Artificial intelligence systems suffer from serious problems, which do not affect humans, and which severely limit the effectiveness of these systems.

El láser: de la guerra de las galaxias a la microcirugía

Lasers are just over sixty years old. In this period of time they have gone from being “a solution in search of a problem” to being fundamental elements in many areas of our lives, to the point of being considered one of the three great inventions of the second half of the 20th century. In this conference we will review with examples what the properties of lasers are and why these have made them such versatile tools as to be used in fields as distant as medicine, astronomy, communications or industrial materials processing.

Gymkhana ‘Descubriendo la luz’

The gymkhana discovering light is an informative activity whose objective is to show the properties of light and its applications in a fun and interactive way through different workshops held at the CSIC Institute of Optics. In the workshops, concepts such as light refraction and reflection, holography and 3D images, fluorescence and chemiluminescence, the human visual system and telecommunications, among others, are worked on. All workshops are connected to each other by a gymkhana: after each workshop the public must answer a question correctly to move on to the next level (workshop) of the gymkhana. After passing all the levels (and if COVID measures allow it), the public must overcome a laser maze (the activity of the laser maze has yet to be confirmed).

Tecnologías ópticas en el descubrimiento del ADN. Rosalind Franklin y la Fotografía 51

DNA is the basis of life, and yet, until recently it was largely unknown. In 1952, Photograph 51 of Rosalind Franklin using X-ray diffraction, managed to identify the helical structure of DNA. In this workshop we will review the Optics behind this very important experiment in the advancement of human knowledge.

Do you want to learn a little more about Microscopy, Optical Diffraction and the role of Rosalind Franklin?

The sublime usefulness of useless science. The Rosetta Stone of Life. XVI Colloquium Marie Sklodowsca Curie. Pedro Echenique (D International Physics Center) will present a particular case of “useless” science and the impact it can have on applied science.

Microscopy, diffraction, and the impact of Rosalind Franklin. Gabriel Cristóbal (IO-CSIC) will address the different synergies that have allowed the development of new forms of microscopy.

IO-CSIC Communication

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