Monday, 27 December 2010

Merry Christmas everyone!

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all had a good one. It was a quiet affair for us this year remembering 2 people we've lost. As its my favourite season I made the best of it. As there was still a substantial amount of snow and the ground and it was everywhere I consider this a successful white xmas.  Back home now and looking forward to the new year and New Year's Eve when we will be seeing Queen WWRY musical. I can hardly wait for that. I just want to wish you all a happy healthy and prosperous 2011.  Thank you for reading. I hope you have some great plans for the day/evening and some great resolutions too. As 2011 is the International year of Chemistry I'm hoping it is going to be a good one for me professionally. Keeping me busy and hopefully presenting me with lots of great opportunities. Lots of love from Sarah xxx 

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Day 9

31st October. Sadly this means it is the last day of the science festival for this year. It has been a full and fun week, enjoyed by one and all. I was Maths busking in the air and space hall for most of the morning. My chosen busk for today was the tying a knot in the scarf trick. I seemed to spend most of yesterday handcuffed to Katie but today I was with Duncan. He did the mind reading birthday trick. Around mid morning was a steam engine demo and we stopped to watch that. A very amusing guy who asked questions of the kids in the audience. The demo included 2 coke cans filled with hot water to show the power of steam. They were crushed. I was impressed by this and think it will be something I remember from this festival. At 2.30pm I helped Duncan assisted an event he had helped on earlier. A workshop given by a lady from Imperial College London. This was called ‘Through the looking glass’. Different shapes were built from plastic models and viewed at various angles through homemade kaleidoscopes. Then it ws time to go home, its all over L I went to collect my things and most other people had gone home. Carolyn presented me with a gift bag containing a bottle of red wine. A sweet note on it thanked me for all I’d done from the MOSI team. I was very touched and hadn’t expected this. Thanks very much! xxx Duncan and I chatted with the mathematicians who were keen to recruit more buskers and invited us for a drink. So we joined them in a nearby pub for coffee. I met Bubblz the maths clown at last aka Caroline and a familiar face started speaking to me. I realised it was a guy I’d seen in costume dressed up as mathematician John Dee. His real name is Costel and he lives near me so we exchanged email addresses as you do. These maths people never switch off. They had to travel back to London and be at work the next day, some had written prep to do for this and he they were surrounded by luggage talking about maths and looking rather comfortable. It was truly wonderful to meet and work with all of thse lovely and skilled people during the course of these 9 days. I shall miss it and thus hope to do it again next year. I looked forward to the xmas do which of course has now passed. I hope everyone is well and wish them luck in all they do if I don’t see them again. XXX   

Day 8

Saturday 30th October. This morning saw the beginning of a largely maths themed weekend and I sent most of it at maths busking. This took place in the air and space hall of MOSI. We were briefed by 2 experienced maths buskers Rufus and Katie who had come all the way from Oxford University. Maths is my weakest subject, so I was abit apprehensive though I needn’t have worried. One of the busks we did was the rope/handcuffs one so at least there was one ‘trick’ I could do.  We also challenged people to put a knot in their scarves without letting go of it with their hands. There was also the turning your waistcoast inside out whilst handcuffed. That’s a neat trick and I needed  bit of practice. Like most things, its easy when you know how. We made emergency pentagons from strips of paper and read people’s mind telling them their birthdays. I still have that card with all the numbered boxes on. I can do it, but didn’t memorise any of the number sequences like my fellow buskers did! You can find out all about maths busking from this link
I was back science busking in MOSI in the afternoon. One of the STEM managers made we laugh by asking how I was so alert and full of energy after all this time. Funny because I felt like a zombie and thought I must’ve looked like one too. Bless her! The penultimate day and so I’m feeling a little sad anyhow. Before we went home today we were treated to the 4D theatre which was fantastic, I had fun there too. Two 20 minute animated films are showing, we saw one called pirates in the museum. Of course we had to wear special glasses to feel the effects and feel them we certainly did. Our chairs moved around at angles to the movement of the characters onscreen. We had a couple of blasts of air. One squirt of water on our faces. Crabs or whatever nibbling at our angles and finally bubbles coming out of the screen. It was difficult to tell wether these were real or onscreen and I was sat at the back. Like everyone else I put my hand out to feel them and oped one. So real then. Alas no photo’s from today.  

Day 7

Friday 29th October. Today I was at MOSI, all day busking. Firstly upstairs in the lobby and it did get quite busy. After lunch they wanted us to busk downstairs to try and get people in. Somehow that didn’t happen, we were happy doing it upstairs were it was warmer and we saw enough people. It was quite overwhelming sometimes! During lunch we met Seth, a maths busker, who showed us a few tricks. All in all a fairly quiet day. It seems that way as the festival will soon be over :(

This evening it was time for us to revisit The Briton’s Protection and revisit a talk I really enjoyed last year and found rather quirky. You’ll see why after this description lol. It was called ‘Drinking up Time’ and takes us an a time travelling adventure to explore the scientific understandings of alcohol, since 1600. Dr James Sumner of Manchester University meets Newton, Davy and others to do this aided by his time machine which is of course a wine box! There were a few changes this year and the time machine now has flashing lights. A lighthearted hilarious talk I’d encourage everyone to see if they get the chance. Enjoy these pix. I did try to capture the wine machine.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Day 6 Manchester Science Festival 2010

Thursday 28th October. I was at the Manchester Museum, Oxford Road again today, the whole day this time. My contact is the same lady I met last year and I remember her because of her funny name. She, however, didn’t seem to remember me. This years theme at the museum is Chinese Technology. I enjoyed working with 2 other Ambassadors this time, the very quiet, young asian named Ashwin and Becky who likes to get stuck into things. We were told there would be a talk about the history of the museum at 12,30pm and one of us would need to evaluate that. I volunteered though felt a bit mean because I think one of the others should have done it as I had that experience already on Tuesday. However I got picked to do this, probably because I know what to do. Anyway we helped to set up our event which was about silk worms and given a crash course. So we were silk worm experts for the day. There were arts and crafts for the kids to do. They could either make a silk moth or a silk gown. We helped cut out the shapes using a template so that there were plenty of each. Didn’t want to disappoint any of the kids. Two of us, one who was always me lol sat at a small desk near the entrance. We had pictures of the life cycle of the silk moth to talk to the kids about as well as a small glass case containing all the stages of a silk moth from eggs to moth. I learned a few things myself, and the kids seemed genuinely impressed. It was very interesting. The worms can only grow to a maximum of 3mm and their entire diet consists of just one leaf! Their cocoon is composed of the silk and once they have emerged as a moth the cocoon is submerged into water and drawn out as a thread. It is awesome. We have samples of different silk threads to show people too, light fabrics and heavy ones. So at 12.30pm I was lead upstairs to the lecture theatre and introduced to the speaker. To my surprise she was accompanied by a quirky guy I remembered from last year. His very entertaining talk in my favourite pub last year was one of the high spots of the festival for me. I told him this, he thanked my and asked if I wouldn’t mind giving out flyers because he was doing it again tomorrow night. I knew this and had every intention of seeing the talk again. This lunchtime talk was very informative and lasted an hour. It had the odd title of ‘Arguments and umbrella stands: Victorian Manchester’s natural history collections’. It was an interesting history lesson elucidating the origins of today’s collections within this museum. At the end of the talk a mysterious object which had been referred to as ‘the artefact’ was brought into for us all to see. I forget its exact name but it was something like ‘stratological scale’. It was discussed and judging by the questions which were asked, some audience members knew what they were taking about.
Totally a new area for me though this was.

 I was sat at the back for the talk itself as I had an evaluation for to fill in for the festival. Chatting to the speaker, and James afterwards I told them I would seem them tomorrow night at his talk. Apparently the talk I’m going to this evening is by a friend of theirs so I shall see them tonight. Back to being a silk moth expert for s while. I had a late lunch and went for a wander. I sauntered along the area behind the Manchester Museum and really enjoyed it as, I’d never been here before, despite living in Manchester for 11 years! The museum is always super busy during the festival but I had a great day. During the afternoon session, I had my name written in Chinese! 

This evening’s talk at The Briton’s Protection was by Manchester University’s Dr Carsten Timmerman. He is a historian of medicine and his talk was entitled: ‘Cigarettes and smoking bans-The science and the history’. For 3 years now smoking has been banned from all enclosed public places in England. This talk deals with 6 decades of concern over the dangers associated with cigarette smoke. He talked about the politics and the epidemiology of it. Dr Richard Doll discovered the link between smoking and cancer. It was many many years before people believed that there actually is such a link.We were invited for a few drinks by todays museum speaker and James. Glynn had to work the following day so we said we would gladly have a drink with them tomorrow night. Another great day at the festival as far as I am concerned. Went home happy

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Manchester Science Festival day 5

Day 5, Wednesday 27th October. I was at MOSI all day mostly participating in busking in the upstairs lobby.Late afternoon I evaluated an event called 'seeing is believing' and I went and had a go myself before they cleared everything away. It was weird but amazing! Organised by the British Science Association, this was a combination of art and science allowing us to look at the science behind out of body experiences. I placed by right hand on the table underneath a wooden box where I couldn't see it. On top of this box is a hand made from a rubbery flexible material which simulates my own hand. The lady kept stroking, massaging and rubbing the fake hand. I felt first! After a while my actual hand felt as though it was being stroked and manipulated. So it is possible to trick your mind even though I could clearly see the lady playing with the fake on. Oooooh creepy! A sad note was that this was Zena's last day of the fesival, sniff! I had worked with her a fair bit and she was full of fun and a very lovely person. I was sad to see her go as was one of the STEM managers who happened to be around. We hugged and got emotional. I managed to snap this smiley pic of her before she left and was sorry she couldn't make our xmas meal.

After going home to get changed I came back to MOSI, as a member of the audience.Therw was an awesome event happening this evening which concluded the RSC's 350th anniversary celebrations. Four reknowned speakers were invited along to talk about the latest developments in their fields. See photos ;) These research fellows were Prf Andrew Sharrocks discussing biomedicine (cancer research), Prof. Barbara Maher from Lancaster University discussing climate change and enviromental pollution (magnetite particles). The third speaker was Dr. Alexander Oh discussing particle physics. The fourth speaker was from Manchester University and was this years joint Nobel prize winner for physics! Both nobels work at the materials department here and won it for their discovery of graphene in 2004. Dr Konstantine Novoselov spoke about this and he was very funny. Alas Prof. Andre Gheim couldn't be with us this evening. Each talk was very interesting and at the end they formed a panel at the front and answered questions. A most enjoyable evening. Fellow STEM Ambassador and award winner lol Claire was also there.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

A geeky meal and awards ceremony.......

Lastnight, tuesday was an amazing night. It was the christmas event for us STEM Ambassadors which is MOSI's way of thanking us for all our hard work at the science festival ;) We all met up at a fantastic indian restaurant which is just near MOSI. It was wonderful to see everyone again, I had hoped for a big turnout. Nice to see happy faces and everybody having fun. The food was fabulous and we had the biggest naan breads I've ever seen! They were served up on a metal rack and placed in the centre of the table where you could just tear a piece off. After the meal were thank you speeches and 3 prizes were given out so it was abit of an awards ceremony really. I was most surprised and thoroughly delighted when the first award winner was me! I hadn't expected it because at the end of the festival itself I was presented with a bottle of red wine for my sterling efforts ;)  Below you can see a photo of the award. Isn't it beautiful? This is for my outstanding dedication during the Manchester Science Festival. I was there for the whole time expect one afternoon. Loved it! This award is now a treasured possession and I am really touched. Thank you MOSI. xxx

Saturday, 11 December 2010

The number that is Lady Gaga

Day 4, i.e. Tuesday 26th October.  Catchy title for a public lecture eh?

Of the evening events I attended this year, this was far and away my favourite. It was mind blowing! It started at 7pm and was mean’t to be a 90 minute talk but overran. As if that wasn’t a long time to be speaking. It included visuals and audio and covered a whole range of topics including, quantum mechanics, relativity, string theory which left you wondering what this has to do with Lady Gaga. However as Professor Gaydecki. said a few times, all would become clear in the end and have relevance, and it did! It was essentially about digital systems and a breakdown of their  various components and how they work and integrate together (reductionism). It makes you question reality! I guess he could have chosen any artist but of course Lady Gaga is known by the youth of today, and so it would appeal to them.  The show ended with a montage and I think it would be nice to see this on YouTube. It was accompanied by a really touching tune which I’ve heard before but don’t recall the name of the artist. ‘Light up’ I think the song is called. The Prof said that scientists may be good at communicating their subject but not so good at expressing how it makes us feel. That is what the video was mean’t to convey. I am glad I was sat at the back because I felt quite emotional. It featured images such as the Apollo 11 astronaut team, newborn babies. Awesome. Thank you Prof, I shan’t forget this lecture and I do hope that I get to see it again some time. That is, if it doesn’t pop up on YouTube first.  I hope these pictures, give a flavour. 

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Days 3 and 4 of the Manchester Science Festival 2010

Day 3, Monday. From 9am until 4.30 pm as usual. I was on the information desk downstairs for the whole morning. This was chilly but fun and I stood up in the end to help customers coming in. We were all given Festival hoodies to wear but alas we weren’t allowed to keep them. After lunch I was sent along to the Super K again. I was thrilled about this of course! I noticed straight away some improvements from the first day. We were better briefed and thus better able to give the public a better experience. It was also explained to them that we were only role playing ;) We all had a go in the boat today. I thoroughly enjoyed it, though still never witnessed the live link to the real thing in Japan. I did take this opportunity to take another awesome photo though. 

Day 4 Saw me spending the morning science busking at MOSI. Again it was cold and we wore the hoodies. We periodically spent the morning doing this just outside the museum too. Shivering fun. Here are the lovely Zena and Becky.

In the afternoon I was drafted on my ownsome to The Manchester Mueseum where I had a fantastic session seeing some live animals during  what was colloquially named ‘The frog talk’!  The talk was 1 hour long and the kids loved it. I sat at the back, evaluating the talk. It was most enjoyable and as you can see I got some rather nice pictures ;) The guy giving the talk was really, really nice. I hope I’m in just as good shape when I’m his age. I hope you enjoy these photos and manage to get a good look at the animals in them. All sorts of amphibia.

tiny little leaf frog
I had taken more pix of these beautiful creatures but unfortunately it doesn't seem as though you can get a good look at em. You can always google and visit The Frog Blog!  This talk was given twice this afternoon so I had double the pleasure ;) Thank you to Dr Andrew Gray of the University of Manchester for a wonderful talk. 

I am grateful for any feedback and comments. Thanks for reading and don't be a stranger xxx