Sunday, 13 November 2011

Manchester science Festival 2011: day7

So it is the last day already. Of course I enjoyed myself but I felt a little sad. I think we all did. It has certainly passed by very quickly! Again today I did the evening session at MOSI.

It was entitled Dr Sketchy's Sketchorama
and went on until10pm I think. Andy
and I left at 9pm. It was an awesome
and popular event with many participants and was described as a life drawing event with a science twist. Naturally! :)

I really enjoyed it and was responsible for signing people in. Again we had a bar but it wasn't as good as fridays ;). Just usual beer this time. We had some magnificent cupcakes though. Compliments to the baker for those.

First up on stage was a familiar face. One David Price, award winning Science communicator whom I remember being 'Mr Maths' last year. He also used to be the host of Didsbury Science bar. One minute he was dressed in a suit and the next he looked like a sumo wrestler. He was demonstrating an objects centre of mass/gravity. Then the drawing began. a 50 year old body builder posed in many ways and the audience had only one minute to draw each pose. It looked like fun but I hadn't brought any drawing materials with me. However, I did notice the MOSI managers joining in, talented they were too. In fact it looks like this event drew the right crowd, no pun intended! I don't really understand the significance of the skeleton either even if tomorrow night is halloween. The next act was a contortionist from Britain's got talent apparently! It was time to go home though for Andy and me, so all done and dusted for another year. What a way to finish, thanks MOSI! XXX

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Manchester science Festival 2011: day5

Today Friday I did the evening session at MOSI. I have to confess that I didn't feel the best as we went to the Didsbury Beer festival lastnight, for the first time! Feeling sad as this is my penultimate event but everyone entered into the spirit of things and had a fab time. This event was called Spacetacular and that it truly was. I greeted people and encouraged them to visit the bar and dress up. Its great to see people joining in and there was alot of tin foil and glitter involved. There were bottles of festival ale and cocktails but I wasn't up to that. It was £5 a bottle but they all sold out! The first half of the night took place over the road in the power hall. Researchers to mingle with and talk too, a planetarium show and a caravan with a guy talking about Carl Sagan. I would've liked to see that myself but I did see some nice costumes.The second half was going on until 9pm so I didn't see it all. As I was saying goodbye to the lovely young lady on the desk, a familiar face popped up. His name escapes me but I must have met him last year. He was wearing a boiler suit and a black curly wig and had told me earlier that he liked dressing up lol. Anyway we wanted his picture taken with me which I thought was really sweet. We did see a fabulous astrophysics student named Jen Gupta doing a spot of stand up about Star wars. She was dressed as an imperial trooper including mask. I have a friend who would approve of that but to me the ultimate scifi movie is Blade Runner. Then a guy came on talking about his work making satelite parts. A lovely evening. 

Manchester science Festival 2011: day4

I spent the day at the Manchester Museum on Oxford Road working with another lovely volunteer by the name of Amena which she told me is israeli for trustworthy which is nice. The theme there this year is Egyptology. Setting up the crafts aspect this year was certainly quicker than in previous years! The kids were making pyramids. We directed people around the museum and then filled in evaluation forms. The afternoons event was awesome, we helped out in a class after lunch wich involved mummifying oranges. Good messy fun for kids of all ages. Alas we were not allowed to take pictures of that but I look forward to the teacher putting up pictures on her website. Don't worry, no toxic chemicals involved, and so one is allowed to take ones mummies home. I aim to try one myself when I have time.

Manchester Science Festival 2011:Day 3

Wednesday, day3, at least for me, though officially it is day 5. I spent the whole day at University of Bolton. It was such a fun day where we made a periodic table out of rich tea biscuits, icing sugar and sprinkles. I worked with a lovely lady named Beth and it was great to visit this university. I think we all had fun! I took plenty of photo's of this.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Manchester Science Festival 2011:Day 2

Tuesday. Today I did the afternoon and evening sessions. I spent a lovely chemistry filled afternoon in the Power Hall at MOSI. I helped a lovely young scientist by the name of Declan who had come up from the University of Bristol. He had a beautiful molymod with him of crystal violet lactone but more on that later. First of all he was to do a demo outside which illustrates the different properties fuels have and why chemists look at this when making fuels for different applications. As he was setting this up my job was to try and encourage people to come along and to make sure they stood well back. It was easy to entice people, in fact no effort at all. I think the large safety screen might have something to do with it as this clearly indicates the possibility of explosives :) When ready he mixed some sodium carbide with water and lit it. It burned with a yellow flame leaving soot i.e carbon behind. I know this is not a hot flame! Next we have some methanol in a large plastic container which burn't with a blue flame. It was quite difficult to see but it was there. This is a hot flame. There was also a large hot chocolate tin which we watched intently  and shot up in the air with a bang but I can't recall what gas that was. Finally he had 2 small bottles of liquid methane but they failed to ignite after being filled in bristol and travelling to Manchester. The crowd were thrilled, it was awesome. Once indoors, he had 2 amazing desktop demo's to show us. One was a small sealed tube of a supercritical fluid* Sulfur hexafluoride. He heated it in hot water, it vaporised and then condensed back into a liquid. Nothing great about that you maybe thinking but then he produced another sealed tube of the same size which had more of this stuff inside of it. After heating it produced a quite visible mist. He described this as beautiful. Next was my favourite demo, the above mentioned lactone which is a derivative of the indicator crystal violet lactone. He blew purple bubbles with it which wowed the kids, and was very pretty and deliberately got some of it on himself and the table.When asked of course the kids said yes the problem is it stains. Then an amazing thing happened. He rubbed his skin and the table with his index finger and the colour disappeared, not a trace left! He explained that it is of course still there and we must remember this as it is very toxic. He then explained using the molymod that the just one tweek/movement within the structure causes this to happen. He refered to this as the 'mousetrap' in which the lactone part of the molecule readily moves one of the 3 rings out of alignment. The molecule wants this to happen and it does so when friction is applied to the structure. Like rubbing it for instance. It is no longer absorbing visible light but absorbs in the UV region. So we humans can no longer see it. There are as yet no applications for this but Declan said that it may have possible uses in security. For detecting fingerprints on stolen paper money I would guess.  At 3pm the outdoor demo near the train tracks was repeated but alas still no joy with the methane in a bottle. Then the indoor demos were repeated. Thanks for a funtime Declan, I did learn something. Then I had my break. I was very thirsty and hungry at this point. The evening event I was sent to with another volunteer (who was lovely but I can't recall her name :() took place at the Whitworth Art Gallery. I was very happy about this as it is on my way home. We were packed off with a lunch bag and had a fun evening sitting at a desk booking people in. There were 2 speakers though we only stayed for the first one who was a scientist talking about all things biology. I remember her saying that we are all amazing. I like this, we are unique too. She had a gift for us all, a box was passed around for us all to select a colourful butterfly made from acetate. She spoke of and showed us a DNA installation she had installed somewhere. There was a fun installation still open in the gallery, 2 screens made of silk and we could see ourselves on it. Of course we look strange. A most enjoyable day I went home happy.          

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