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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 October 2007, 10:31 GMT 11:31 UK
Queen pays visit to 'super-scope'
The Queen visiting the Diamond Light Source in Didcot (Picture by Tim Bearder)
The Queen was shown work being done on viruses at the site
The Queen has paid a visit to the biggest science facility to be built in the UK for 30 years.

The 300m Diamond Light Source in Didcot, south Oxfordshire, is described as a "super microscope" and covers an area equal to five football pitches.

It is considered the most advanced X-ray machine of its kind in the world.

The Queen toured the site on Friday and was shown how the technology can used in fields such as medicine, environmental and historical science.

The diamond light source synchrotron is housed in a doughnut shaped building and is based around a vast ring around which electrons are shot at enormous speeds.

The energy produced from their passage generates intense light beams - no wider than a tenth of the width of a human hair - that can probe matter down to the molecular and atomic scale.

Dr Thomas Sorensen, of the Life Sciences department, talked the Queen through the work being done on viruses.

He said: "She seemed very interested that we needed something so large to study something so small.

"Diamond gives us the opportunity to literally shed light on things we couldn't see before.

"Designing new drugs is a bit like cutting a key. Here we can find out what the lock looks like."

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