Monday, 31 December 2012

My reflections of 2012

My how time does fly especially when you are having fun and yes its that time of year again. That time when many of us look back over the passed 12 months. For some of us it will have been a good year but unfortunately for some, maybe not so good. For me personally I feel it was a good year, certainly a good time to be british, and so I thought I too would put my thoughts into a blog post. In early January I signed up to do the Amsterdam Marathon which mean't I started the year in training for this already, so no more alcohol or junk food for 10 months. Anyway more about this event later on. I have always loved the TED conferences/talks and am very pleased they are as popular as they are now, thanks to the internet. Just so much innovation and inspirational stuff going on all over the world. This means I had a secret longing to attend a TED Talk but thought that such a thing was still a long way off. Anyway my luck was in this year as I attended 2 local TEDx talks, both at Salford. The first was TEDxSalford 1.0 at the Lowry Centre at the end of January. This was an all day event which didn't disappoint, I really really enjoyed it and all over the speakers were amazing and so inspirational. However, one talk stood out among the rest and I still think about it now and again. It was a talk given by a mystery guest who was a NASA astronaut. His name is Col. Ron Garan and the reason I loved his talk was because he talked of changing the world and in a way which I have always felt. I.E. all countries should get along and work together to effect change.I truly believe that this is the only way to make a real difference in the long term. Listen to his amazing talk for yourselves.

The end of March was a very exciting time and I would say the highlight of my year. There was a convention taking place in Charlotte, North Carolina called 'The Mad Monster Party' and Rutger Hauer was going to be there autographing things with all proceeds going to his non-profit organisation 'Starfish' which helps HIV+ women and kids all over the world and has done so for 12 years. I went along for the whole weekend as a helper and it was the best fun!It was so good to meet more lovely people and a few friends whom I'd so far only known via the net. Meeting friends always adds to the fun for me. Of course it was a real treat helping out Starfish and hanging around with Rutger and the team. This year I personally am celebrating 10 years of supporting and fundraising for them.Here is a photo of us all.

I was sad when it ended but wouldn't have missed it for the world.
Early April saw me back at Salford for TEDxSalfordChange. This event was half a day and free to attend. It included a live link up to Berlin where one of the speakers was Melinda Gates. As usual and as you would expect from TED, all talks were terrific. The Gates Foundation were co-organisers of this event and you can find out about it and listen to the speakers on their Facebook page
Whilst americans celebrated 4th July, physicists were very excited and happy to have discovered the Higgs-Boson particle at the LHC in CERN, Geneva. This completed the standard model and is just a very small blip on a graph but great news for the science world. 
This year our queen, Elizabeth II celebrated her Diamond Jubilee
, 60 years on the throne. Alot of events celebrating this happened nationwide especially in early June. The end of July saw another exciting event the Olympics from London. I am not a great lover of sports especially watching it and have heard many comments about how we can host it given the state of our economy and heard many people including co-workers moaning about taxes etc. Despite not being a sports watcher I disagree with this view. I feel proud that the UK is included and takes its turn to host the games. I loved the enthusiasm for it which seemed to dominate Twitter at the time.
In early July I was in talks with a prof from Tel Aviv University about the possibility of me spending 3 years over there doing AIDS research. What a career change that would've been. However it was not mean't to be and there is no point in dwelling on it.
August was a sad month as the world said goodbye to first man on the moon Neil Armstrong. We drank a whisky at our bedtime to commemorate his life and mark his passing. RIP xxx

 The end of August also saw me revisiting one of my favourite cities, the beautiful belgian city of Ghent. We spent 4 nights here before I return to work and it was my other half Glynn's idea. I worked at the university here back in 2001 and loved it. A medieval city with great history and gorgeous views wherever you look.  See for yourself.

The end of October saw me in Amsterdam running the marathon I mentioned at the beginning of this post. I wanted to mark my 10 years of running and fundraising for Starfish by running in my favourite foreign city so here I am. I also met a couple of dutch friends whom I'd only known online up until now. They are also great Rutger Hauer fans and supporters of Starfish. I can now also say that I have ran around an olympic stadium. I have got used to that idea now but it still thrills me!

 Not long after this was over with I signed up for the Liverpool Half Marathon which is 17th March 2013. Needless to say I am not in training for this yet and am enjoying my window of eating and drinking what I jolly well like thank you.
This year ended on a sad note with the death of a national treasure, everyones favourite presenter of astronomy Sir Partick Moore just missed reaching 90. About 11 years ago I had the pleasure of watching him lecture at my university here in Manchester. He was introduced by Astronomer Roayl Martin Rees and of course he was talking about the universe. He had his famous monocle and xylophone with him. Afterwards I watched others queue up to get his autograph and kicked myself for not having anything with me he could sign. So I tried to talk to him outside the lecture room afterwards. He was only interested in handing out flyers promoting Jodrell Bank though. I have no clue what I would have said to him and he was a huge guy. He will always be missed RIP xxx

 Well I think thats everything, I certainly hope I haven't missed out anything of note from this year. It only remains for me to thank you for reading. Thank you :) and also...........Happy New Year! Celebrate it safely and I hope that 2013 is incredibly good to us all. I am optimistic. Lots of love xxx

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Day 9: Higgs Boson

Sunday 4.11.12  Looking forward to visiting the John Rylands library and hearing a talk about the Higgs Boson by a man I have been tweeting with for some time Ian Sample. He has a new book out about this subject. Before talking about it he spoke of Peter Higgs for a while whom he has met. Journalists think Higgs is a shy genius because he is reluctant to talk to them. However, apparently he just thinks they are idiots. Apparently he was always going to be a theorist because he is worryingly bad with experiments in the lab lol. It was a fascinating talk as they all are. At last I also bumped into fellow chemist Louise who loves Didsbury bless her. She greeted me at the desk and I saw her later on too handing around the microphone. I left happy but saddened that the festival was over so quickly as usual. Hopefully I will be a volunteer again next year. I do apologise for the lack of photo's. It was just not possible this year. Thanks for reading and take care.   

Day 8: book readings

Saturday 3.11.12 I had such a good time at Blackwells bookshop last Saturday that I decided to come again this week if it didn't clash with any other festival event I had wished to attend. So I found myself here again at 11am for a talk entitled 'on being' by Prof Peter Atkins who is a renowned chemistry professor. In fact he wrote my undergraduate text book Physical Chemistry so I felt quite honoured to be listening to him. His talk was bascially about science verses religion and he used alot of big english words lol. Science of course wins and he was rather like Richard Dawkins I guess. His book was only little so I bought it. The next talk at 2pm was called why Humans like to cry by a lovely neuroscientist who also enjoys poetry, opera and speaking german. I also bought his book. And lastly at 3.30pm a former chemistry teacher spoke to us using a white board about the Higgs Boson. As I'd bought 2 books already I decided to not buy his. I know where I can go when I do need to buy it. I also discovered labcoats and purple hoodies here too. I went home happy.  

Day 7: Contagion

Day 7: Friday 7.11.12 Back at the MOSI cinema at 7pm for the screening of this film which never having seen before I was certainly excited to see. It was introduced by microbiologist Joanna verran and starred Jude Law, Kate Winset, Gwenyth Paltrow and Matt Damon. It was a realistic medical thriller about a deadly SARS like virus. It was as I expected by then I do love a good movie. There was a discussion afterwards with a guy whos name sadly escapes me. He was from the universities department of History of science and  medicine. Awesome way to end the working week

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Day 6: The XXX Files

Thursday 1.11.12 This was part of the science after dark series and was one of the highlights for me. Largely because it took place in my favourite pub, The Lass O'Gowrie and I managed to persuade my other half to accompany me. Also it had adult themes and kept us very entertained betweem 7-10pm. Three entertaining talks from experts at the Manchester Metropolitan University. They were Embarrassing bodies (i.e. infectious diseases) with Prof Val Edwards Jones, Famous people with congential diseases by Dr Chris Murgatroyd and Evolution of the Penis by Dr Michael Carroll. This last speaker was a soft spoken irish man and so full of the blarney though I must admit to never hearing an academic say the words shagging and knob as much as this guy did. All in fun in the cosy upstairs room of the Lass.  

Day 5: The cost of Transport

Wednesday 21.10.12 This panel discussion was the event of choice for me this evening and it took place at the Manchester Conference Centre. A very nice place and I think the first time I have been in for years since it was refurbished. This was a 2 hour affair from 6.30-8.30pm with light refreshments first and some free literature some of which I picked up along with a free 2 gb memory stick. The discussion was about the latest developments and their potential impact on the future of transport. It was a four member panel which included the Chief Scientific Advisor DOT, Rod Smith and a non expert comedian who has attended the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Timandra Harkness. She was very good and of course funny. I agree with her about wanting a flying car as long as it is powered by hydrogen, water or electricity. Strangely I don't recall electric cars being mentioned at all. Road tax was discussed alot with one audience member asking if it was right to punish us with increased taxes. I agree in recovering the amount needed to pay for repairing roads etc but not to continue increasing taxes forever.  

Day4 The Wasted Conversation

Tuesday 30.10.12 saw me at MOSI for this event which was held on the 3rd floor in a lovely but draughty room. Blankets were thoughtfully provided. The wasted works sculpture was on display for us all to see and looked very pretty and purple as light shone through it. This is artwork by Gina Czarnecki which explores the life giving potential of 'discarded' body parts as well as their relationship to myths, history, cutting-edge stem cell research and notions of what constitutes informed consent. The sculpture was made out of a resin and resembled a palace. Close inspection revealed that it had milk teeth on it! The artist Gina was there for a discussion with stem cell scientist Prof Sara Rankin. They talked about how they got together to collaborate and how they had an interest in each others field. That is a scientist with an interest in art and vice versa. Gina had apparently been to the Sundance Film Festival last year. They also talked of having to get approval for this project from the health service. It is still possible to donate your milk teeth if you wish to.

Here is a link to an interview with Gina on the science festival Blog. Very interesting it is too :)    

Also there were a couple of armchairs for us to try out. Their cushions had been injected with fat collected from liposuction. It came with a caveat to be gentle as the fat may seap out. We should see the shape of our buttocks on the cushion upon standing up. To be honest I wasn't taken with this idea. I didn't see anyone else sit down on them either. Full points for creativity though. Another thoroughly enjoyable after work event.  

Day 3: The man in the white suit

Monday 29.10.12. This week as I am working I can only attend evening sessions of the festival as it doesn't line up with half term for me this year. Not letting this stop me though. On this particular evening I attended a screening of a chemistry film at Manchester Metropolitan University All Saints building. I was a tad late as I couldn't find the building. 6PM start. Little did I know this was an old Alec Guinness film made by Ealing Studios way back when. It was introduced by a microbiologist who mentioned German Expressionism. This reminded me of a swedish friend of mine who is really into that. We were also told 3 main things about modern film making 1931: wobbly sets 1951: wobbly props and 1991: wobbly cameras (I think). LOL. I found it interesting as being a chemist I would! I felt sorry for Alec Guinness character in the end by the way his supposedly new wonder material came undone (literally!). There was an offer of pizza and a pub discussion in the end but it was 9pm so home time for me. A thoroughly nice night. I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings. I was hoping to find the whole movie on YouTube but I could only find clips so I will leave you with one of those. I hope it encourages you to see the film if I'm not the only person not to have seen it


Sunday, 28 October 2012

Day 2: Domino Computer Challenge

Sunday 28.10.12 I now have a festival program but there didn't seem to be much I could go to today. I went to one event today but boy was it worth it. The domino computer challenge. This event which also happened yesterday was created by mathematician and MOSI science communicator in residence Matt Parker. Basically, it uses dominoes to illustrate how a computer and its circuitry work to solve a calculation, here a simple addition sum. Ten thousand dominoes were involved. This event was billed as starting from 2pm and finishing at 4pm. I arrived promptly before 2pm to find domino builders still setting up. After some time I asked a nice guy at a nearby table (he was one of the builders) and he told me they had been at it since 8.30am! It will more than likely be ready from 3pm and will only take a minute. Got to admire the patience of everyone involved and it was fun to watch them. As it turned out all was ready by 3.30pm. I filmed it on my cameraphone and you can watch my YouTube video below. Sorry about the poor sound quality. No matter what the outcome it was still great fun! I took some photo's as well. Enjoy.


 Also exciting today was a live link up to Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes! You can tweet a message to them on code and they will decipher it and send it back to you :) 'Baby' is here too!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Manchester Science Festival 2012

Well its that time of year again. I cannot believe how quickly it has come around. Since 2009 I have been a STEM Ambassador and was really looking forward to contributing in this way again. I don't know what happened but somehow I didn't get the memo and so started to panic about missing out. After making enquires it seems I have indeed somehow missed the boat and the deadline has passed. Gutted but on the plus side I get to attend some of the festival. Not as much as I would've liked because this year it doesn't quite match up with half term either. Anyway enough explanations already! Today Saturday 27th October is the first day of the festival. I started off at Blackwells book store 11am to see an author's talk entitled 'Waking The Giant' by Bill McGuire. He is a professor of geophysics at UCL and has in the past been a UK government advisor and also done some documentaries. This is also the title of his new book. It was a scary, realistic, eye opening and fascinating talk followed by a good and lengthy Q& A. I really enjoyed it, bought his book and had it signed. A great start to the festival for me. The talk centres around the fact that climate change triggers natural phenomena such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunami's. Bill is actually a volcanologist by training. We learn't that 2010 was the hottest year on record and that 2000-2010 has been the hottest decade on record. Another startling fact was that it only takes a very small pertubation to trigger such events. Also  ice sheets are heavier than one might think and can easily cause the surface of earth they are in contact with to bend. I shall enjoy diving into his book which here had a £4 discount :) Next I went along to Manchester Metropolitan University to see a chemistry event entitled 'Fireworks: How do they work?' This was a great show for kids and adults alike. The pyrotechnician in residence Matthew Tosh would make a great children's tv presenter and I loved his t-shirt. It had a hazard symbol on the front and said 'pyrotechnician' and on the back which I saw first it said 'if you see me running, try to keep up!' He put on a splendid show explainng every stage of how a firework is made starting with Caron black powder which set alight on its own isn't very impressive. He worked up to flashes, whistles, fountains and even did a sonic boom and there were smoke rings and flash metal which I suspect is magnesium. Lots of smoke and smells and the kids were really entertained. Also he explained how rockets get their thrust and why he doesn't like them. Basically he doesn't trust them.As he explained he is a trained pyrotechnician and the fireworks he used are specially designed to be used indoors. I wish I had thought of filming this with my cameraphone. I saw that it was being filmed and so hope to see it again online. I would highly recommend seeing his shows. Back in the corridor afterwards, where students had stands doing various things, there was one which caught my eye. A young PhD student with a research stationary bike was talking to a few people about his work. He is concerned about us becoming a nation of overweight people and researches how too much body fat can lead to diabetes. He was very nice and mentioned running alot. I told him I'd just ran a marathon and how could I get to be a better runner especially during training. He said something about reaching my limits. I had hoped for more useful advice but never mind. He was telling us all to start off by doing low intensity running and this will build up more energy mitochondria and we will even notice a difference on our second run. He was nice and slim and I mentioned diet. He said it doesn't matter he eats rubbish (10 mars bars a day!) but lots of excercise. This was a pleasant way to spend 30 minutes. My last 2 events of the day were two author talks back at Blackwells.  The first by a cancer researcher from Greenwich University talking about her new book 'How millions survive cancer'.  Due to advances in technology and treatments thats how. She was a lovely lady from NYC and I enjoyed a brief chat with her afterwards. Dr Lauren Percochino was her name and I got her business card and told her about The Christie and The Paterson Institute for Cancer Research. She had a tiny model of a breast for us to feel so we could get an idea of what a malignant lump would feel like. A frozen pea, certainly very hard. I feel reassured that I now know what to look for. The next talk was very entertaining and involved a demo and I managed a small glass of red wine. Prof Chris Cooper from Essex University whose book and talk were called 'Run, swim , throw, cheat' which was about doping in sports. Very topical in light of the recent Olympic games here this summer. In fact he was the media contact for the games. He drank a small bottle of coke thoughout his talk and had 6 disposable wine glasses and 2 bottles of a red berry drink to demonstrate how athletes can top up their blood count which technology these days can now detect anyway. He had to rush off so answered questions whilst he packed up his things. All in all I've had a good day one and am now all fired up about the festival. Went home happy wanting more.         

Saturday, 22 September 2012

A methane rocket

Last Monday, that is 17the September, in one of our labs we gave the A level physics students their first science demo: a methane rocket! Always great fun for everyone. Our physics technician provided the empty drinks bottles and attached abit of plastic tubing on the outside of it with gaffer tape so that it could be threaded onto the string in the lab. Myself and a colleague as chemists were asked to generate the fuel :D we generated oxygen using manganese dioxide and 100% vol hydrogen peroxide. The rocket contained a 70:30 mixture of oxygen and methane which we of course got from he fumecupboard gas tap. This was great explosive fun and I can't believe we were allowed to do it indoors. This demo was the idea of our new physics teacher. Looks like were are in for a fun year if not an explosive one. I filmed it using my phones camera and thankfully I spoke softly enough for the mic to hardly pick up my voice. Here is that video I hope you enjoy. Perhaps you can tell me in the comments either here or on YouTube what you think? Is this a demo the kids would remember? I think I would :)


Sunday, 26 August 2012

Goodbye Neil


I was extremely saddened yesterday to hear that one of the great hero's of the 20th century had passed away. I am of course referring to the amazing Neil Armstrong the first man to ever set foot on the moon. He was 82. He may have avoided the limelight as often as he could and been a relucant hero, describing himself as 'just an engineer' but from now on the world has changed and is a poorer place without him.
Upon going to bed lastnight my partner asked me to bring into he room his bottle of favourite whisky. I was puzzled by this and didn't make the connection at first. Its not as if this is a weekend bedtime ritual of ours or anything. So, when I entered the bedroom with his bottle I saw he had 2 shot glasses ready and waiting by his bed. After expressing my puzzlement as I climbed into bed he said  this is to celebrate Neil, he was an important man'. This made me a tad emotional but so we sipped and reflected on this great mans life. My partner has always been interested in the planets and the Apollo Missions. He can talk in  great detail about it as if he were there! This is the only time we have ever carried out such a commemoration in this way.
On my early morning run today I saw the moon. Okay it was more or less daylight and rather faint but it was there so I looked up and winked as I trotted along, couldn't help but smile too even through the sadness. When I returned home I found my partner watching From The Earth to The Moon. I joined him and we watched it over breakfast. My partner has been watching such things in remembrance for most of the day. In the Shadow of The Moon was next.
Our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends at this time. RIP Neil Armstrong, and thank you. The world will not and cannot forget you. xxx

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Do you remember the LOL's of the Apollo 11 mission?

As I was born in 1969, the year that man first set foot on the moon I of course have no recollection of this historic event but also, keeping track of how long ago this happened is obviously a no brainer for me. In todays world of tech and social media most users are familiar with many acronyms used as a shorthand tool in which LOL means 'Laughing Out Loud'. I am sure that they had lots of fun aboard Apollo 11 but back in the 1960's LOL mean't something entirely different. It stood for 'Little Old Ladies' and they had a crucial role to play in this mission. It is a pity we don't hear more about these unsung hero's well I never did until my other half mentioned them. I thank him for inspiring this blog post :) The LOL's worked for Raytheon (which co-incidentally my better did too once upon a time). Intrigued? Then read on, dear reader, read on! The computer for this mission was developed by MIT and looked like this:
Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC)

Initially it was thought that the AGC would only require 4KB of ROM (Read Only Memory) and 0.5KB of erasable random access memory (RAM) would be adequate. Perhaps it is just my humble opinion or the benefit of hindsight or something but that seems a bit naive to me. I am no computer whizz though so sorry if I'm wrong about that. As the software grew, the need for more ROM to store it on increased, so the final memory specs were 36KB ROM and 2KB of erasable memory. In those days, computer programmes were not stored on a hard disk in the modern style but in ROM which was fabricated by weaving a copper wire either through or around a tiny magnetic core. If a wire passed through a core it represented a '1' and around it a '0'. In this way, the software was painstakingly woven together by a team of women weavers at a factory. The team at MIT called it the 'LOL method' who threaded the cores in the Raytheon factory, core by core, wire by wire, bit by bit, the software programmes were woven into the hardware. Although if you ask me, they don't exactly look like old ladies to me.

 The end result was tough and space flight enviroment-resistant, and could be wrapped carefully into a relatively tiny space on board the space craft. The prototype designs looked like tangled pieces of rope so the team dubbed them  'rope memory'. It took approximately six weeks to manufacture a rope and so all programming had to be stopped six months prior to a mission, to allow time for manufacture and then testing before flight. Once the rope module had been produced alterations to the code were impossible. The computer's 2KB RAM needed to write and read live mission data and was manufactured from cores in this way with the '1's and '0's written temporarily to each core by using a high enough current to flip the cores magnetic direction between clockwise and counter-clockwise, and read using a second lower-powered pulse of current to sense this magnetic field direction. To make the most of this very limited erasable memory, different programmes running at different times used the same blocks of memory in a sort of  'time-share' way, overwriting each other as they ran.

close up of fine wiring achieved

core rope memory
a finished core rope memory

(Credit for images:Raytheon)

This computer was more akin to the modern computer system  in a car as opposed to a personal desktop or laptop computer with a QWERTY keyboard. I will leave you with one further piece of info which I found fascinating but which also amused my highly developed inner child. Back then the unit of memory in the AGC was the 'word'  (byte was never used). Sounds cool doesn't it? ;) The 'word' was made up of 15 bits for memory storage and 1 extra bit for error detection code called 'parity'. Interesting? What do you think? 

So thanks to the LOL's of Raytheon and to the Haynes Apollo 11 manual 

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Cause to celebrate

Last Wednesday, 4th July, americans everywhere were quite rightly celebrating their independence day as usual. Happily however, in the science world there was another reason to celebrate! The LHC (Large Hadron Collider) particle detector at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland may have discovered the elusive Higgs Boson particle which understandably sent a wave of excitement and joy through physicists around the globe. As a scientist who has a couple of friends who are physicists I witnessed and felt their joy. One of said pals was close to tears bless her. I am a chemist but as I understand it, in physics there is a Standard Model made up of all particles in the universe. Most of these particles are known about eg electrons, protons, quarks etc. However there is a gap in this model, where the never before detected Higgs particle is thought to live. Physicists have been trying for over 50 years to find the Higgs Particle named after Dr Peter Higgs of Edinburgh university, UK who first theorised about the existence of a field which pervades everything in our universe. Here is a video fromFermilab which explains Higss Boson quite nicely. I like this explanation

Particle physicists and the LHC still have plenty of work to do. This new particle dectected at 125eV is thought to be the Higgs Boson and amounted to just a tiny blip on a graph. CERN still need to confirm that this is indeed the particle they have been looking for. The Standard Model is not quite complete and doesn't consider gravity. Will scientists now be on the lookout for the graviton particle? I will keep my eyes peeled on this story and also to see if Dr Higgs gets the Nobel Prize he deserves. Could it happen for him this year? I truly hope so. I realise I wasn't as quick off the mark as many people have been in commenting on this discovery but if it is the Higgs and the scientists involved are 99.999999% sure it is, then this momentous ocassion will no doubt be talked about for many many years to come.  I will leave you with this video from The Big Bang Theory in which Dr Sheldon Cooper is attempting to explain using pictures what a Higgs Boson particle is, to the layperson, namely Penny.I hope you enjoy and thanks for reading

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Transit of Venus 2012

On June 6th this past Wednesday a historical event occurred. Namely the planet Venus would be clearly visible travelling passed our sun. A once in a lifetime event which won't happen again  until 2117. I feared that my camera phone wouldn't get a very good image but that didn't matter as I had technical issues with it in the end anyway. I wasn't too disappointed because just as I expected Twitter was all, well twittery about this, the astronomers of course being especially excited. Therefore I was expecting to see great photo's and I certainly was NOT disappointed. It doesn't matter what field of science you are from or indeed wether you are a scientist or not, who isn't in awe of our magnificent universe? Just as I imagined, thankfully and gratefully, there are many magnificent photographs and indeed YouTube videos of Venus gracefully making her way by the Sun. I love the internet and I think it is absolutely amazing that no matter where you are in the world (almost) you can witness this marvel and document it in some way and then share it with the rest of humanity online.
As I unfortunately didn't capture the moment I have searched the web for some fab pictures. I made a discovery which pleases me and makes me very proud. I didn't know this because even though I love the history of science I am a chemist and not directly involved with any field which does study the universe. My wonderful discovery was that back in 1639 the first transit of Venus was observed by a local (to me) amateur astronomer from Salford named William Crabtree. I found a beautiful painting of him making this very observation and here it is. I wish I could find out who painted it so I could give him proper credit.
There are lots of amazing photo's on the web of Wednesday's transit. Here are some beautiful pix I found on just the first page I looked at. I think this are glorious and I'm sure you dear reader if you've looked have found many more yourself.  I hope you enjoy these anyway

(Credit: Shellee/WV Outpost)



 Facebook has an entire page devoted to this so you can find more gems there

(Credit: Marquez)
(Credit: HD image by NASA Goddard)
For the nerds enquiring minds amongst us
(Credit: NASA)

I'll finish with one of my favourite photo's. I think it looks rather like a scene in a western, perhaps a closing scene with the sun going down. Do you agree or am I wrong? :)

(Credit: Douglas Brown/The Denver Post)

Saturday, 2 June 2012

TEDxSalford review

5 months later but better late than never right? :) I expected great things from this day and I wasn't disappointed. Even the sunshone for the whole event. The entire thing was organised by students from Salford University so well done to them. Every talk was great, every speaker was too. They were so inspirational, some funny but all made you think and some were heartwarming also. The theme was 'we are all explorers' so yes very inspiring. Thank you guys! Whilst I was fascinated by every talk I do have a favourite. Our mystery guest was a NASA astronaut and since learning this I have been excited to know his identity. I never thought it would be colonel Ron Garan with whom I have been following on Twitter for some time (@astroron). At the time he had only been back on earth for 6 months and had some awesome pictures he has taken from space to show us. Whilst a few of the talks on this day were about helping others this one struck a particular chord with me. The colonel spoke of what he calls the 'orbital perspective' there no real boundries really between nations so we should all try to help each other, help the developing countries. It is our responsibility to find solutions to our planets problems, clean water, an end to poverty etc. and all of us can do something. Wonderful , love it. I hope I am playing my part. See my other blog. He is Col. Ron Garan's talk

Also, here is a link to the TEDxSalford Facebook page where you can enjoy all of the talks.

 What's more on 5th April I was lucky enough to attend my second TEDTalk. This was entitled TEDxchangeSalford and was free to attend and took place over half a day. The exciting thing about this was that the second half involved a live link up to Berlin where we were treated to a talk by none other than Melinda Gates and what an amazing and moving talk it was too. Another amazing fact about this link up was that it was streaming live to 200 countries at the same time! I had my camera phone this time but my pictures are not good and unfortunately my mpg of the Berlin talks didn't work. Ah well I shall be more used to my phone by then as its new. I would recommend TEDTalks to anyone if you get the chance to go to one then please do. You will be glad you did. 

Friday, 25 May 2012

Oooh I so need to come back here and blog about TEDxSalford. In the meantime I have stumbled across an innovative new science and filmaking project called Please take a look and I hope you get excited about it too. Its a chemistry project to rival Nottingham universities The Periodic Table of Video's. I love it and to prove it I've made a financial contribution.

Also, Happy towel day :D

Friday, 27 January 2012


As this is my first post of 2012 I first of all want to wish you all a very happy, healthy and productive new year xxx I am insanely excited about attending my first ever TED conference tomorrow! In case you are not aware of these wonderfully, inspiring and innovative events TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. Check them out on Twitter and Facebook. Anyway I am so pleased to have the opportunity to be going to a TED conference, it is one local to me: TEDxSalford, starting at 10am though we are to be there from 9am and finishing at 8pm although it may continue abit longer. I will be back with all of the glorious details as I'm planning on taking notes of each talk. I just can't wait to have this experience and to discover the identity of the mystery NASA astronaut! Here is one of there Facebook pages.

I hope to see some familair faces and chat to some interesting people xxx

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