Friday, 18 December 2015

ISS get a new british visitor

An historic event took place this week in the UK. On Tuesday 15th December astronaut Tim Peake became the first brit* to go up to International Space Station. He has remained active on social media and seems to be loving it.Who wouldn't? Here are 2 articles covering his first few days about the ISS.

Science doesn't get any more exciting than this. You can follow Tim Peake on twitter to get more or less continuous news and updates @astro_timpeake

Christmas is almost upon us. I have had a fantastic year and will be back to reflect upon it.

Love Sarah x

*In 1991 Helen Sharman became the first brit in space and first woman to visit the Mir space station. She went to Sheffield University and was a chemist to boot!

Friday, 6 November 2015

Last Day...Sunday 1st November

Last day of the Manchester Science Festival that is. So much to see on this last day and I am still sad it is finishing and know from previous experience I will be thinking about it with fond sadness for a while yet. Alot of things going on at MOSI (see website) but I spent the day recuperating and I was excited for tonights volunteer do at the Ball pool. This is a way of saying thank you to us all and kicked off at 6pm. Out of 72 volunteers I would say that most of them were here so that is nice. There was free alcohol and pizza too! I hadn't been sure about the food situ and had some pizza at home, turns out a few of the others had done the same. This didn't stop us digging in! I really enjoyed myself, the lovely converstaions and laughs with people who think the same and 2 go's in the ball pool. We had talked about building a ball mountain when we got in and we did.The fun thing was everyone else outside of our wee group, saw what we were doing and joined in :D At one stage, I picked up a red ball. This was meaningless to me but people noticed and commented, saying things like 'oooh you've got the red ball'. So I began to wonder what this mean't, had I won a prize? Apparently not lol. The STEM team left early, one by one, first of all Pen, and then Marieke but not without saying goodbye as well as how much they loved working with us. I left at 9pm-ish with my table, this includes, Holly, Duncan, Magelena and Charlie. Holly mentioned again at this point that it would be good to have a volunteer facebook group and she would contact Pen about setting one up. I love this idea s I love to keep in touch so hope this happens. Still waiting....So now it really is all over, and just remains for me to say thank you to the STEM Team at/and MOSI for being brilliant as usual. I really did feel appreciated and valued. I loved it and meeting new faces and meeting up again with other returning volunteers. If you have never done this and want to try it out then you really should give it a go. Lets do it all again next year! Check out the pix below and more on Facebook xxx    

The Bar!


My bubblebath :)

View from entrance
Red ball!


Thursday, 5 November 2015

Manchester Science Festival continues...

...although I am beginning to feel that the end is nigh. It has been fabulous so far and I know it will be over soon. Too soon, love it! So today, Friday 30th October saw me at MOSI for the day.I spent part of the morning meeting and greeting visitors and then was asked if I would man (or is that woman in my case?!) the adult Ball Pool on the first floor. This is very popular and I had wanted to see it and have a play myself so I jumped at the chance.As it turned out, I was here for the rest of the day and it was ace :D I had fun talking to Alex, another volunteer who was womaning the till/tickets (You see what I did there?) I had to monitor the queue (maximum capacity of 30) and read out the safety guidelines to visitors and make sure they understood and signed the disclaimer. Alex and our festival director, the lovely Marieke, were really pleased with the job I was doing, getting people in to capacity for each session and keeping out the kids. It was thrilling to hear and even though it seems like this isn't much of a job, it all counts and I did really enjoy it. No photo's though.
On Saturday 31st October I did the 'science Spectacular' at Whitworth Hall in Manchester Museum, Oxford Road. This means I was there all day and having done this last year I knew what to expect. I have been looking forward to this very much since I found out I would be doing it. This was an extra day for me and the organisers remembered me from last year which was nice. It was largely the same as last year so I didn't take any photo's of it. Please see last years blog entry about this event for photo's. Sorry about that! Once again visitors were commenting on the beauty of the halls architecture particularly the ceiling. All tables of science were amazing, the turtles were back and as cute and tiny as ever. There was also Graphene, Nuclear energy, Engineers Without Borders, Cancer Research and Life Sciences from Manchester university with their Spirulina and blue smarties. New, to me at any rate was a table about diabetes and I had a good chat with 2 very nice ladies there as my other half now has it. So much fun for the kids, lots for them to do and they can collect a star after each activity and a full card will let them pick up a goodie at reception. I had expected to do some meet and greet at first and it looked that way.   There were science buskers outside and I was asked if I would like to do some busking. I jumped at the chance because I did this for my first 2 festivals and really miss not doing it. So I spent the morning outside Whitworth Hall and then outside Manchester Museum doing this and it made me feel nostalgic for previous festivals. I did straw oboes, balloon kebabs, Alka Seltzer rockets and rope handcuffs. I thought it was a shame there were no lava lamps and I have lost the knack of balloon kebabs but I wasn't the only one.  They proved to be the most popular.There was also the cartesian diver using a water bottle with a sachet of ketchup inside (never seen it done this way before). The busker doing this was such a fun guy and was telling people they could make the sachet move by focussing their mind LOL Computational Biologists eh? There also a volcano demo which was epic! This involved coca cola and Mentoes. I'm only sorry I never got photo's of any of this. After lunch in the new Alan Gilbert building cafe, I was able to take a look around both in the Museum and the upstairs events and ask if anyone needed any help. The museum is having a refurb including getting a new cafe which looks interesting. I had  a look at the current 'Gift for the gods: Animal mummies revealed'. This included being able to activate onscreen mummy scans and was a great exhibit to see. A very peaceful one to walk about alone if you so wish. Also a free drop in event. I really enjoyed all there was to see upstairs. I walked around and spoke to somebody on most tables. One which particularly caught my eye was one which wasn't there last year and was all about diabetes. My interest is in learning how to manage it as my partner was recently diagnosed with type II. The first lady I spoke to was a lovely mexican who has diabetes in her family and I could've  talked and listened to her all day but didn't want to monopolise her. I had told her my plans regarding what I wish to do and she said she loves it when people do things for other's/charity work and said some people are passionate about it. I think I will remember that for a while. At the end of the table was another lady not talking to anybody and there was a poster about diabetes related kidney complications which caught my interest as Glynn only has one anyway. Overall it is common sense really and I only learned one thing. That is, if it gets bad, even type II's can end up taking insulin supplements. There was also a face painter here too. At the end, I hung around at the reception desk looking after everyones belongings whilst they took everything up the road to Suzanne's office and I took down feedback comments from the board. As I was leaving I was asked if I ahd recived my thank you card. I knew nothing about this, it was certainly a nice surprise! Suzanne ruffled though a box behind the desk and gave me a card and a small box of Lindt Lindor chocolates. This makes me smile all the way home with a warm heart. I did feel valued as a volunteer. So thats is it, the festival continued on Sunday 1st November but it is all over now for me. I had a fab time and look forward to next year. Take care!        

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Royal Photographic Society

So Wednesday 28th October I was back at Liz West's wonderful installation 'Your Colour Perception'. Its such a shame I never got to meet the artist whom I was told was in another country(can't recall which!). Although a quiet event at University of Salford there is no need to say I hope that everyone who came enjoyed it. Most of them spent a long time in there and said great things about it. See Day 1, if you wish to see photo's. I really enjoyed this event with my polish colleague Marcin. We had some fun and interesting conversations about for example, 3D printing and Star trek. It would be nice to do an event with him again. We volunteered for this event all day.
Thursday 29th October, saw me at University of Salford, MediaCity where there were 3 events for the Manchester Science Festival. I worked with 3 other volunteers whom I had already worked with. We had a table at the main entrance which mostly advertised the Siemens sponsored Royal Photographic Society who had an impressive exhibition on the 3rd floor. Opposite our table was another one with a lady from Unison.Se wanderd over at one point and when I told her I was a member already she gave me some freebies including a squeezy turtle and a heated travel mug. At the end of the corridor not far from us were 2 installations housed in a black room. The first being Kinetic Flux, another free drop in event. Hung up was an infinity symbol made of glass with a small infra red camera underneath. You go in and move around. This is abit startling at first as it crackles and turns white. You are influencing the flow of kinetic energy which monitors your movements and illustrates the effect of speed, distance and direction via glass sculptures and electric light. Outside the black curtain was a compter screen where people can see your skeleton as you move around. Very cool, even if you appear headless!
Kinetic Flux

Salford Selfie

 Kinetic Flux. Apologies for poor picture quality and thumb nail.

All 3 events are wonderful. I really mean that, but I was most excited to see the 'alienated Chernobyl' event and I was not diasppointed. It had proven to be popular and I was genuinely curious anyway.Who wouldn't want to see what it looks like now? Since the nuclear disaster 30 years ago, Chernobyl has been a no go area and this virtual reality experience shows how animals and plants have adapted to their contaminated enviroment. Wear VR goggles and choose which area to get transported too and see what it looks like now.One could sit there all day! Or step inside a white curtained area and watch the everchanging images on them. This is what I did and the images changed quicker than I could photograph them but as you can see I still got plenty. This is awesome it was so nice to see and just like being there. Loved it! These images were obtained due to the presence of weather resistant and radioactivity resistant tiny camera. Amazing! What do you think?
Virtual Reality Chernobyl

Images from Chernobyl. This is what it looks like now...

Wildlife during the day and also during the night.

I looked forward to the photographic exhibition, mainly because they were scientific in nature and I was curious to see what the artists had done.There were some really creative pieces and some which involved alot of work. Many were beautiful to me and my favourite is one called 'Starry night'. No surprise there to all who know me :) This photo was actually a leaf! There were 2 lovely chemistry themed photos next to each other and thermite has never looked so pretty. One particularly lovely photo took myself and a colleague by surprised when learned it was a Honey Bee anus! Yes we did have a good giggle but were in awe as to how such a photo was achieved. I took so many photo's so I will just leave a selection here including said bees bum! Please check out my albums on Facebook as I plan to have one on the RPS pictures alone for the budding or veteran enthusiast to gaze upon :)
RPS sponsored by Siemens
Sample of RPS Exhibit

'Angry Corpuscles'
'Starry Night' leaf
Honey Bee Anus
So worthwhile seeing this exhibit if ever you get a chance.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

A life in Science: Richard Dawkins

I have been looking forward to this event for a long while and was superexcited! This conversation took place at The Lowry Theatre, Salford, lastnight Monday 26th October at 8pm. It was chaired by Roger Highfield who is Director of External Affairs for the Science Museum Group. Whilst part of the Manchester Science festival, this event didn't require any volunteers so I was just another member of the audience. The festival did get a plug though, at the start and again at the end. I believe some people from MOSI, may have been in the audience downstairs. I was up in the gallery but did have a good view. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take photo's but I did get this shot pre-event from my seat :)

Prof Dawkins talked about his life. He has written part two of his autobiography which is called A Brief Candle in the Dark and is doing a tour. He read extracts from it and told us stories on such things as how he met his wife at Douglas Adams' 40th birthday party, the christmas lectures and anecdotes from his days at Oxford. After a 20 minute interval there was a Q&A where some good questions were asked but perhaps inevitably the first 3 at least were about religion. Then Richard read a final poetic extract which was rather funny. An evening very well spent in my opinion.  At 9.50pm I found myself joining a queue to get my book signed (which I had bought in the interval for £15). This queue went down quick as I had hoped it might and to speed it along no dedications or photo's with RD were allowed. There were people hanging about from Manchester Humanist Society signing people up and I gladly gave my email address. The guy I spoke to was very funny and looked familiar but he took off before I could ask if we'd met before. I suspect he may have been at MOSI in the past, perhaps one of the singing scientists? Later I discovered he was in fact an actor though his name is not familiar only his face. I had taken my 30th Anniversary copy of The Selfish Gene along with me planning to get that signed instead but I was on the verge of bottling out as I knew thwy wanted to get through this asap. When I asked a couple of the folks managing the queue if  he would sign it I got a very positive and laid back response ''of course he will, he's a nice person. He will sign both'' I felt happier and decided to go for it. At 10.30pm, it was my turn and I had seen the lady before me shake his hand so I thought I would do that. He seemed a little hesitant but shook it. He was cold relative to me. I asked if he would sign both books and he said yes and did so. That was literally it, but he did then give me such a lovely big smile. Very warm. I am still thinking about that and still on some sort of happiness cloud!!

Tomorrow I am back at Salford University doing Liz West's 'Your Colour Perception' .See 'DAY1'. Please do call in and say hello should you be there. I will be on this event all day. I will be back to blog about my day on thursday which sees me back at Salford University with the Royal Photographic Society. I am looking forward to discovering that and the nearby installation about Chernobyl. There is still so much to see at science festival in venues all around Greater Manchester.  Film screenings, walks and tours, conversations, something for all ages. Don't forget about the Science After Dark for adults, and the ball pool. Evaporation and Cravings at MOSI itself but lots of other things also happening at the Manchester Museum and plenty to see at Manchester Art Gallery and the Central Library.

Manchester Science Festival 2015

Day 3:Drones Expo

Saturday 24th October (also Sunday). I did this event all day and it was such fun, kids and adults alike love this and I do too. It only took place over these 2 days but I am sure there are such events as this at other venues which you can go to if you wish. So worth it. Here all the action took place at MOSI behind safety nets and for free. There was just a 10 minute queue and we were so pleased at how patient everyone was and to see the kids enjoying it so much. There were remote control quadcopters with LED's and demo's of larger ones on the hour. These demo drones had movable camera's attached to their undersides allowing people to see themselves on 2 big screens at the back. Who can resist a wave? You can see 2 videos below of these drones being demo'ed. The really cool part is that there were 2 Rolling Spider drones which operate with an iphone and I just happened to have my iphone 6 with me.So yes I installed the free app and off I went. I was told these are easier oto control.That may be true unless you are me! It was amazing. I fully intend to buy one of these for myself in the future. As a volunteer it was my job to change and recharge the batteries which only have a life of 6 minutes. There were spare parts and mini tools as well as we are the drone technicians. There was a table near the screens with 2 drone repair experts and spare parts too. Also people were free to go and chat about drones and find out all about them A guy had made 2 films using drones which he called 'Game of Drones'. What else? :) They were seeing peoples reactions to being given parking tickets and also following people who don't pick up their dogs poop. So far this event is certainly one of the highlights for me. Please check out these photo's.

Two large drones being demo'd

                                Please enjoy these 2 videos of the large drones being demonstrated.

  Whilst I was at MOSI, I got a glimpse into
the adult ball pool which is epic! I can't wait to join in the fun with this next week. This pool consists of 81,000 balls and will be here for the duation of the festival, so last day November 1st. From 10am untill 5pm every day at a cost of £5 adults only. Go know you want to.....check out my 2 sneaky photo's.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Day 2: Body of Light

Friday 23rd October. I spent the whole of today in the 1830's Warehouse where the main event was The Body of Light Dance. I hadn't known what to expect but I really enjoyed this. So much so I ended up filming it! You can see the raw video further below. This is a really popular event and visitors only had good things to say about it. I never heard a negative comment. This event by Dance Manchester is a fusion of dance and technology. After the performance the choreographer explained how it worked (sensors on the clothing, talking to the computer essentially). There was then an opportunity to have a go yourself. The kids loved it! This is a free event and you can drop in anytime. There were 2 performances in the afternoon but the choreographer and tech dude were available anytime to chat about this. Nice stuff.  I hope you too enjoy the performance :)

The venue in 1830's Warehouse.

Not entirely sure why YouTube have turned this video through 90 degrees. Sorry about that.

There are plenty of other things to see in the 1830's Warehouse as well as this being the home of the 4D Theatre which is great for younger kids where you can watch and experience a 15 minute animated short called Pirates. I have, thats also great fun! In this building is an event called Cravings where you can learn how food shapes our appetites. This is a free drop in event which is here until September 2016 so you have plenty of time to see this. Its on the second floor.  I found myself talking and having fun with other visitors. Like most people I got most of the sniff samples wrong. I was surprised by this until I had a go myself.  It is bizarre :) There is also an impressive model of the human gut with explanatory notes. Here are the photo's.


Gut Model

The Sniff Test
Up on the second floor is an amazing exhibit called Evaporation. Artist Tania Kovats celebrates the oceans and tides, in partnership with british chemist James Lovelock who developed Gaia Theory (look it up, read the photos below or pop along and see!) Evaporation consists of 3 metallic bowls filled with seawater. They were set up at the start of the festival and are left to see what they look like at the end of it. There is also a collection of bottles of seawater from the worlds oceans. It is hoped, and the aim is that one day the collection will comprise of a bottle from ALL of the worlds oceans.Sounds impossible doesn't it but it's looking good! here are some photo's:

Project info

Gaia Theory

                             Bottles of seawater from all the worlds oceans. Such a   beautiful sight!


This exhibit is here until May 2016 and is a wonderful contribution to this years science festival. You do want to visit this! Excited for my third day tomorrow when I will be at MOSI all day once again volunteering at the Drones Expo. 

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