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


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