Frequently asked questions
27 Apr 2010




Here is a selection of frequently asked questions, more can be found in the download.


What does ISIS stand for?

Isis was the principal goddess of ancient Egypt.  She had power transcending that of all other deities and was able to bring the dead back to life.  Isis has been considered by many to be the symbol of renewal of life.  Most notable, perhaps, was the revitalising of her lover who needed reassembly after battle.

This was a particularly appropriate name for the new neutron source since large amounts of its equipment were recycled from previous accelerators in the United Kingdom (Nimrod and Nina).  It also lies near to the river Thames, which is known as the ISIS in this part of Oxfordshire.

When was ISIS built?       

Construction of ISIS began in 1978 when Nimrod, the existing accelerator on the site, was switched off and dismantled.  In 1980, plans were made to begin experiments in 1984, when construction of the majority of the new facility would be completed.

ISIS was formally inaugurated and named on 1 October 1984 by the then Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Margaret Thatcher FRS MP.  She was accompanied by the Secretary of State for Education and Science, The Rt. Hon. Sir Keith Joseph MP, Science Ministers from Italy, Luxembourg and Spain, and representatives from many other countries.      

At 7:16 pm on Sunday, 16 December 1984, the culmination of 7 years of hard work by staff throughout the laboratory paid off, and the first neutrons were produced.  Initially only 5000 pulses of protons were fed to the target, but this was sufficient for test experiments to confirm that ISIS would be the world’s leading spallation neutron source.