Sunday, 21 December 2014

Interesting version of the iodine clock reaction

I love this version, including showing that it can be reversed. Nice musical accompaniment too!

Friday, 7 November 2014

Manchester Science Festival Finale: Comedy in Space

Well as always it was all over far too fast! Taking place down stairs in the MOSI main building was the finale, Comedy in Space hosted by Chella Quint. This was stand up comedy by women :) The volunteers were invited as a thank you for all of our hard work. We had drinks vouchers so I had 2 glasses of red wine. It was great to see some familar faces again and I got a hug when I arrived from a fellow volunteer which was nice. She loved my skull dress and scarf. On each of our chairs was a bag of flyimg saucers, a quiz (name that galaxy) and a piece of paper with a question on. They alternated between 2 questions and the one I got was if alien life visited us on earth which tv alien would you most like then to be like? I said Mork. We had to hand the quiz and the question in at the start. It seems that most people thought like me which is sweet to know.
 Chella was in a space onesie for the first half then changed into a black and white dress. We had space poetry by this women in red. One was a tribute to the festival volunteers.We loved that! There was also Jen Gupta who I have seen before talking comedically about her ridiculously long title and her job.
 We also had a lady doing abit of role play firstly quoting funny quotes about space and then she turned into a drill sargeant. Lastly was Helen Keen talking about well known women of space from the past. This included showing photo's and asking us if we thought they were criminals or role models.

   There was also room to give Pluto the stage and also Uranus which yes did include any innuendo, you can think of!

This was such a great night, what a way to end the festival!
All that remains is the credits

       So long, I hope to do it again next year if you'l have me

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Call of the Wild

Today, Saturday 1.11.14 is my last day as a volunteer this year. I enjoyed it very much but felt abit sad as I can't believe it is over already! I was at MOSI for the day from 9am to 4.30pm doing a workshop 'Call of The wild' with renowned wildlife sounds recordist Geoff Sample. My first festival event last week was a conversation with him and Marcus Coates. Always nice to get up close and personal and chat with the researchers and Geoff is such an amiable chap.

 This event started at 11am after a few technical hitches. I was to work with another volunteer on this all day whose name escapes me. He is a biomedical student.Not doing too well with names this year but hopefully I will find them out tomorrow night :) He is lovely anyway. We greeted the visitors and I had a list of names so I could tick them off. This is a popular event and after seeing it I can telly why.Such a pity that on both occasions there were empty seats even though it had been fully booked.
Geoff started off by setting the scene by giving us sounds of various location types and asking us what they were. They included the seaside, a forest and a waterfall. Next he played us various animal sounds and we had to guess what they were. They started off easy e.g cuckoo, crickets then proceeded to become a bit tricky and then became hard. I managed to get some photos when he revealed the answers and there are some creatures I'd never even heard of which I plan to look up, such as the Mole cricket and a bird called the Nightjar. So thanks Geoff for teaching me a few things about the animal kingdom. Anyway here are some photo's.
Please click on the photo's to embiggen.

The final part of this event required volunteers from the audience and the kids were more than happy to oblige. Some adults too! They made noises or said words into a microphone which Geoff then edited and altered the speed of using some software. This aspect does take some time.  It was fun how he changed peoples voices or words to sound like an animals. He explained that this can be done at home as there is free software and all you need is a microphone. This is a long but lovely event which takes time but after lunch it was repeated again. My colleague actually volunteered to have his voice recorded. We helped Geoff pack his things into his car afterwards and it was a nice chance to talk to him. He told us he was about to start writing a new book, so if you're interested, that is definitely something to look out for! So the science festival is all over already. Of course tomorrow is the last day and there is still plenty to see at venues all over Manchester.

I am really looking forward to the evening event Comedy In Space with Chella Quint. This is also a thank you party for we volunteers. We are promised drinks vouchers and all the flying saucers we can eat! I am of course looking forward to meeting up with fellow volunteers again and having a good chat and a few laughs. If you are there, say hello! I also look forward to volunteering again next year. If they will have me.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Screening of The Mummy

Last night at our beautiful John Rylands Libray I volunteered at a screening of  The Mummy (1932, Boris Karloff). Met and chatted with 3 other interesting and nice volunteers again. There was a talk before the film abou old techniques used to analyse mummies to see the person had died of or what medical ailments they may have suffered from. I was there to meet and greet at both events.

Most people will take any opportunity to visit this library and we are no exception. It is really something to see if you ever find yourself in this fair city.

After everyone was seated we wacthed the movie which started at 7.30pm and finished at 9pm. As it is a horror movie I wasn't expecting laughter but there was plenty of that amongst the audience. Also a couple of funny moments involving technology breaking down. I guess that is funny to me because there we were in this old ornate building with the lights turned down low watching an old black and white movie on a small ye olde projector screen when all of a sudden a computer error message popeed up. If that hadn't happened I'd have thought it was all done using the old school projection style.

It was a nice night for walking to the bus  stop and I was accompanied along Deansgate by one of the other volunteers whose name I wish I knew. Hopefully I will find out of Sunday at our Thank you party. So another successful and pleasant experience. It only remains for me to wish you all a very happy and safe Halloween. I am not doing anything for the ascience festival tonight which means I can go to our local beer festival which is currently happening. Looking forward to my last science festival session all day tomorrow though! x


Festival Goodies!

Yesterday I picked up one of these lovely festival tote bags. Isn't it a beauty? You can pick one up too for just £3 :)

Thursday, 30 October 2014

BFI Event

Wednesday night and we are half way through the festival already! This marks the first of 3 evenings dedicated to the BFI event.The venue was the main warehouse at our MOSI.

Each night a double bill screening of 2 films by a particular director. First up was Terry Gilliam with Brazil and 12 Monkeys. I have the latter on dvd and haven't watched it for years. It is a memorable and excellent movie. If you haven't seen it, I recommend you do. I was very happy to be volunteering on this night as out of all the films screened there is only one I haven't seen and that is Brazil. I arrived on time at 5.30pm and met the other volunteers. Had a welcome coffee, egg and mayo sarnie and some 'Swizzlers' as there was a big bucket of these retro sweets to keep us going. 2 volunteers were doing evaluations, one was showing people to the seats and I was on meet and greet and had to apologise as unfortunately our guestspeaker had cancelled due to illness. There was a bar and a free raffle to win posters and banners etc. Brazil started at 7pm and we all sat down at the back to watch it.  It has a great cast, was very funny and of course being TG, it was weird as well. Very weird. Whilst I am pleased to have seen it and really enjoyed it, I can't pretend I knew what it was about. Didn't really like the tragic ending for our hero played by Johnathon Pryce. I loved the music and even though I haven't seen this film before I have, oddly enough, heard the theme tune before which is lovely and I still have it in my head now as I type :D. It finished later than anticipated at 9.20pm rather than 9.10pm. We still had an interval and the raffle tickets were draw during this time. Then 9.45pm saw the start of Twelve Monkeys. The other volunteers had left during the first film, just me left! I stayed for 20 odd minutes, just long enough to see Brad Pitt being weird. This film was due to finish at 11.50pm but I left at 1.30pm, by which time it was raining alot but no matter. I wasn't cold and had had a great evening. Thank you MOSI!  
This evenings double bill is Total Recall and Starship Troopers. Both fab scifi films by the superb dutch director Paul Verhoeven. Starting at 7pm. Book and buy your tickets online.

If you'd rather watch something older and spookier why now pop along to the beautiful John Rylands library to see the 1932 movie The Mummy starting the one and only Boris Karloff. It starts at 7.30pm and is free but you must book.

I will be there so I would love to see you.

Finally tomorrow night sees the last installment of BFI at MOSI with a double bill by my favourite director Ridley Scott. Alien and Prometheus, whats not to love? :D

If you do attend any of these screenings, why not let me know what you thought of them in the comments below. Thanks and I hope you did enjoy them

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Science Festival Book reading

My next event as a volunteer wasn't for a few days and as I love the book readings I of course went to the second one at Blackwells too. There are 6 altogether but I can't make it to any more after this. This one was by George Marshall whose life's work has been to convince people that Climate Change is a real thing. His talk was about why people ignore climate change and to sum up the answer is largely because it is too far into the future and people can only deal with the present. This talk was a sell out and more chairs were needed. George is a very entertaining, eloquent and funny speaker and the talk did get political. He has good insight into that whereas personally I try to stay clear. I loved it and was really glad I got a chance to see his talk. I bought his book, had it signed and abit of a chat. I told him that as a scientist it is frustrating that people still won't believe/change their minds even when you present them with evidence. He agreed saying that it was maddening and that the best way to shift their beliefs is to say that this is what you believe or are convinced is true.Great Advice! I am now following him on twitter @climate george. If you want to know what his talk was about then buy his new book 'Why do people ignore climate change?'

George had his own introducer. He is the guy on the left.This was a great way to spend a Monday evening!

There is still plenty of great science and fab events to come at the festival so why not come along and see for yourself. It will entertain you kids too over the half term.

Enjoy :D


Science Spectular!

This event took place on Saturday 25th October at Whitworth Hall and Manchester Museum. It was an all day event and spectactular it was indeed. So much to see! I went to MOSI for 8.45am first to be briefed and myself and the other lovely volunteer I worked with on this, Victoria Edmondson were put in a taxi at 9.30am and taken to Whitworth Hall. I was not only excited about this event but looking forward immensely to seeing the Hall as I've never been there before. We met our contact Dee-Ann who had a transparent folder with info for us each, we were briefed and given a quick tour. We spent what seemed like a long time in the welcome area reading our info. The event didn't start until 11am anyway and here we met the 2 ladies who would man the welcome desk Suzanne whom we saw the most and I'm sorry the name of the other young lady escapes me.

  We directed people to where they wanted to be and the kids got a challenge card where upon completing an activity, they got a coloured star to put on the card. Once they completed their card and came back here they did a lucky dip to win either a festival bracelet or a purple bug. At one stage I went around asking the researchers if there was anything they needed. This was after going around with speech bubbles asking them why they thought science was spectacular, for the feedback board downstairs. I really enjoyed this, my first taste of what they were doing. I got to see a tank of tiny but very cute swimming turtles. I got to make some graphene too by using the traditional method of scotch tape. It was very sparkly. I hadn't epected it to be so pretty.Then we viewed it under a microscope slide. Just being 1 atom think it was of course the very light bits which are graphene as opposed to the grey and black bits. Happy to have done this as I have always had a thing about graphene. I was happy to see an RSC table about crystallography especially as this is the International Year of Crystallography. I had a nice chat to the guy who told me thi had been dropped on him at the last minute. He showed me an engine turbine with a coating on it and I mentioned to him the Horizon Race for Life film which I suggest he see.
 Whitworh Hall is fantastic with a big old church organ at one end and a great ceiling. Why didn't I think to take a photo? :/

 However the highlight of the morning was Engineers without Borders.  They were downstairs in one of the rooms along the corridor you see in the above photo. A smallish room and I noticed straight away in the middle of it was a bicycle. A guy messing about with a food blender came up and asked me if I would like a smoothie.Surprised by the question, lol but I said 'yes please'. He led me to a table then asked if I wanted to do it myself or to let him. I thought I might as well let him do it for me. So as I watched him chop up fruit and put in the blender I asked that EWB of course do stuff for the developing world and he said yes. He then went and put the blender onto the back of the bike! I said' you don't want me to get on the bike and pedal do you?' knowing the answer was yes lol.So I did and before I knew it I was being filmed but seeing me do this encouraged others to come in and have a go. So I was happy with that and my smoothie. Great fun! I wonder what happened to the footage.  
We had our lunch break and I was fairly cold by now having been stood in the welcome area for a while. Was hoping for coffee and a hot lunch in the cafe but alas no. They had laid on water, apples and small chocolate bars to sustain us. This was lunch too. I think my favourite part of the day was the afternoon when we got to work on a couple of stalls upstairs and chat to researchers. First of all we went on the 'Smart Materials' stall with too really nice guys whom I enthusiatically told I had a Masters in Polymer Science. I got a face full of jargon I hadn't bargained for as they were PDRA's! Kids seemed to love what they were doing putting coloured plastic ducks in water and they then changed colour. Also, lengths of wire into a beaker of water which seemed to magically return to its original shape. Here we met a lovely marketing lady called Sam who works at the uni and whom I now follow on twitter as @theginflip. How is that for a handle? :)

The next stall we went on for the rest of the afternoon was with the Life Science Department and their algae but I learned a thing or two here. They had a jar of pondwater and had taken a sample from  it to put on a microscope slide. Using a laptop and software this was rigged up to a small screen where you could look at the various algae in the pondwater and we got the kids to draw the ones they liked on a postive note which was then put on the nearby board (Algae hall of fame?') There is a wiggly one called spirulina. This apparently used as a blue food colouring e.g. smarties. There is even a picture of it and other bugs on the bag of smartie packets.

This is only the first part. The second part involved extracting the food colouring from powdered Spirulina and I watched as my colleague Victoria guided kids through this. A microspatula of  powdered Spirula is placed in a small pestle and mixed with 1 squeezy pipette full of deionised water. This was placed in a mini centrifuge and the supernatant placed in a portable mass spectrometer to show what the blue food colouring agent looked like. I was enjoying this so much I forgot to take any photo's. Such a mega event all round. Alot of energy and fun in this room! We had plenty of tidying up to do including moving boxes and stuff to Suzannes office just up the road. So we finished at 5pm rather than the expected 4pm. I had an event I wanted to go to at 5.30pm but it is nearby. A book reading at Blackwell's by Mark Avery talking about Martha the last ever Passenger pigeon. It was very interesting and he clearly loves Passenger pigeons. Martha the last one died of old age in Cincinatti Zoo. His interest was piqued because they were extinct and nobody has ever heard of them. Having enjoyed his talk and getting £4 off I bought his book but alas no signature. I love the book shops, a staple and favourite part of the festival for me.

Blackwells Manchester.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

In Conversation with Marcus Coates

I had the priviledge of volunteering on the first day of this years festival at this event. Thursday 23rd October, In Conversation with Marcus Coates and Geoff Sample. This event took place at MOSI at 7pm. I arrived straight from work  at 5.45pm as the others were getting their briefing. Our new coordinator/manager, the lovely Nichola asked me if I also do evaluations too. Never done it before so this is an opportunity to do something new. This mean't asking patrons to fill in a survey and also logging those who refused to. Doors opened at 6.30pm so myself and 2 other lovely volunteers whom I'd met at our induction course stood near the doors. There was a meet and greet, and a fellow evaluator using a tablet. I had a clipboard doing it the old fashioned way. People were very nice and this made it more fun than I thought. The time went quickly and soon we were seated to watch the event. It was interesting to hear about their careers and how they met and began their collaborations. Marcus Coates is an acclaimed artist who currently has an installation at MOSI called 'The Sounds Of Others' which is essentially what this talk was about. Geoff Sample is a Wildlife sound recordist and these 2 guys clearly love their work. They have spent many many hours listening to hundreds of different animal sounds! We were treat to some of them. Marcus started with a recording of himself saying 'hi' then altering its frequency and it became so distorted that it sounded like an array of wild animals, finally like some sort of bear.Very Funny! He continued doing this throughout the talk and the blue whale got mentioned quite a few times. Apparently their sounds are out of the range of human hearing. The Q&A at the end was fun especially as people asked questions about sounds which aim to mimic animal sounds rather than real animal sounds such as the pelican crossing! The audience were then lead to the 1830's warehouse with Marcus and Geoff to see and discuss the installation. We stood near the MOSI main doors ready to hand out flyers to  the patrons as they left. It was all over at 8.45pm and we went home. I hope to see this installation some time later in the festival week.


I will be back to tell you about the Science Spectacular show I volunteered at on Saturday 25th October. This was a fabulous all day event at Manchester Museum and Whitworth Hall. As if that wasn't enough I then went to a book reading at Blackwells :D Why don't you leave me a comment telling me about any festival events you've been to or volunteered at so far? I'd love if if you did.
Sarah xxx

Festival Garb

Here I am at home all dressed up in my new festival t-shirt, badges etc. You can't see that this years shirt is actually a vibrant blue and I'm sorry about the light glare. I'll get a better photo from the festival :D

Here is a pic of my ID and lanyard. I have to give it back when the festival is over but I can keep the t-shirt. Now you know what I look like, you can come up and say hi :)

Thursday, 23 October 2014

And so it begins...

The Manchester Science Festival that starts today! :D Here is a link to the website so you can have alook and plan your visits. There is so much going on and many more venues have been added this year too.

I an a volunteer (STEM Ambassador) for the festival and my first gig is this evening at MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry) itself. Can't wait! (Looking forward to see what colour our t-shirts are as well). I am volunteering at 'A conversation with Marcus Coates' who is a renowned artist currently with an installation at MOSI. Excited to be learning about that and how different sounds species make works! Here is a link to this event in case you are free and wnat to pop along and see it. Please do say hello if you see me

My next event is all day Saturday at the university and Whitworth Hall. 'Science spectacular' which has something for all the family and will be alot of fun! Here is a link

Once again if you visit and see me do come over for a chat. I love the science festival and when I'm not volunteering I am planning what events I will be attending myself. Hope to see you there :D


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Robin Ince is (in and) out of his mind.

Last friday, just 2 nights ago I attended the titular named event at out beloved MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry. It was hilarious and everybody laughed from start to finish. In case you've spent the last decade under a rock, Robin Ince is a comedian who loves science and co-hosts a popular Radio 4 show called the Infinite Monkey Cage which I love and can't recommend highly enough for science lovers. This is the 3rd time I have seen him live but anyway. I had my camera but as he got so into his chatter he did in fact forget to show us his slides though he did flash through them at he end when he realised. Love this mans mania. I did arrive incredibly early and bought a rather tasty glass of red wine and took a seat in the third row and got to see Robin Ince setting up. Needing something to entertain myself with I did snap these :)
On his knees there having technical hitches. Anyway, there was an interval but this event was time well spent. From 8pm to 10pm. He gave us stories from his life and work. Mentioning his radio show several times and doing impressions of Prof Brian Cox, his mancunian Monkey Cage partner in crime. Also impressions of Brian Blessed after asking a couple of kids in the second row if they minded swearing.Naturally they didn't!He talked about his admiration for Richard Feynman and showed us the famous YouTube video of Feynman playing the bongo's days before his death. He told us about making a speech at this dads 80th birthday and a bottle of cheap champagne exploding and covering him in booze and glass. He told us a recent tale of witnessing a certain Nobel prize winner (Sir Paul Nurse) struggling to open a taxi door. I did learn something though. I am now aware of a curious sea creature I had never seen nor heard of before and I want to share this with you. Please say hello to the piglet squid.
It has a certain cuteness don't you think? I wonder if anybody has or could make a piglet squid balloon animal? I'd definitely love to see that! If you get the chance to see this man live then do it. He always seems to have one tour or another happening. Next I will be attending TEDxSalford on Sunday 5th October at the Lowry Centre. I absolutely LOVE TED! Robin Ince is speaking at this event also and I think thre are some tickets left. Catch you later, take care xxx

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Rare Richard Dawkins interview!

Yes another Richard Dawkins so soon. I love him and stumbled across this rare 1 hour interview whilst surfing YouTube. this is fascinating so i thought i would post it for you to watch. i hope you enjoy it and find it thought provoking. It includes religion, alternative medicine.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Science needs women

I have seen this video before and absolutely love it! It is so inspiring I just had to share it on my blog and I will watch it again myself in future. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  It is sad and unfortunate and rather worrying that in 2014 there is still a lack of women in science and a lack of women being promoted to higher roles within science.

Friday, 29 August 2014


From University of Nottingham.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

5 fun Physics Phenomena

I stumbled across this video which I want to share. Actually I got it in my Youtube digest email and really enjoyed it so I hope you do to. The second video of course contains the answers :) Perhaps you would like to give yourself some time to think of explanations yourself before you watch these explanations. Until next time, keep safe x

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Richard Dawkins explains gay genes

I have been a huge admirer of Professor Richard Dawkins since I was a teenager doing my A levels. In fact I had the immense pleasure of attending an event last November in London in which Dawkins participated in. Anyway today I stumbled across this clip in which Dawkins explains via 3 possible theories how he supposes the 'gay gene' came about. I especially like theory 2 if only for the childish reason thats its not often we hear the professor swear and it sounds odd to me. That aside I found this whole video very interesting but I could listen to Dawkins all day. I hope you enjoy it at least as half as much as I do.

Thursday, 24 July 2014


It has been sometime since I last wrote. I am now off over the summer and hope to write abit on this blog as there hasn't been an entry since february. As you can see I have managed to keep my other blog up to date somewhat.

Sarah's Tracks

My heart is heavy though over the shooting down of the MH17 flight from Holland to Australia which resulted in the loss of everyone on board. Many who were world reknowned HIV researchers heading to Melbourne for the world AIDS conference. I mourn with the netherlands.
In AIDS news however there is some new hope

positive news about AIDS

Peace and love is whats needed now.

Sarah xxx

Saturday, 22 February 2014

The amazing rattle back

Many of you probably know what a rattleback is but I only found out about them recently. My other half learned about them from watching an episode of QI and was fascinated enough to buy us both one. I am the proud owner of this yellow one you see pictured here. as you can tell, it is a boat shaped piece of plastic. Those of you who are in the dark about this toy as much as I was may be wondering what is so remarkable about it. So let me tell you. it has a preferred spin direction. If you spin it in one direction it will happily spin away until it has gradually lost all of its kinetic energy due to friction and as you might expect then stops. However if you try to spin it in the opposite direction, it will resist and rattle about dramatically before then reversing its spin and once again happily rotating in its preferred direction.  This appears to violate the law of conservation of angular momentum which states that the amount of rotation an object has depends on its mass, shape and speed and this remains content if no external torque is applied to the object.
So this makes the rattleback a curiosity which has excited human imagination since prehistoric times. Indeed it is also known by several other names including "celt' ''celtic stone'' and ''space pet''.

here is a youtube video showing this effect somewhat dramatically on a much large rattle back.

This is a great video but doesn't really explain the effect and I haven't done so in any great detail either. I will say rather teasingly that I leave you to think about it or look it up yourselves. If you are a physicist, then perhaps, you know already and can explain it much better tan i ever could. I hope however that you enjoyed this post. Please let me know in the comments :)

Friday, 3 January 2014

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a good christmas and I just wanted to wish you all a happy, healthy and productive 2014. I'm looking forward to seeing what the International Year of X-Ray Crystallography brings. What are your plans? If you read my other blog 'Sarah in Training' you'll know that I am now about to get into serious training for the half marathon I will be doing in mid May for my favourite non-profit organisation. Aside from that I shall see what comes. I am waiting for the outcome of a research position I applied for at UCL just before xmas. Not hopeful but nothing to lose. Keep up the good science and take care!

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