Day 1 British Science Festival :D

So, my first day at the British Science Festival is done 🙂 I’ve been to five events today as well as investigate the university and spent am embarrassing ten seconds in the Lapworth Museum…
I’ve met so many more people today including ones I literally met five seconds ago in my flat! I’m sure you will all be pleased to know that I ditched them early to write this blog 😛
Our food is from a little set-up cafe called the Flask and Bunsen with beakers for flowerpots (surely a great idea for a science themed party if any of you are cool enough), but is mostly sandwiches, so we might be forced to foray into Birmingham city centre one evening to supplement this diet.
So far all of my events have been on campus at the university, where there are actually surprisingly few people wandering around for such a large festival. Everyone reading this should come next year– most of the events are free and there are such amazing speakers!
Now for all the science and stuff.
My first lecture was on virtual palaeontology- using x-rays to make 3D images of fossils otherwise hidden in rock and other engineering type computing techniques such as looking at stresses and strains on the bones to work out how the fossils would have moved. There were two speakers, both of whom went to Imperial and were excellent at describing their work and what it was like doing their day to day research. Some of the comparisons they made to modern day animals were really interesting too- for example looking at what genes are expressed but then not actually acted on by embryos of horseshoe crabs helped them prove a hypothesis for where this little fossilised creature fitted into the evolutionary tree.
I will try and get links to some of the videos of the internal structures of the fossils they scanned (when it’s not one o’clock in the morning) because they were actually breathtaking!
Unfortunately I didn’t have time after the lecture to go to their talk in the museum where you could see the actual fossil samples, because I was straight off to see ‘What maths can tell us about how an animal is feeling’. This was a lecture awarded to a researcher, so maybe I went in with too high expectations, but I really didn’t enjoy this talk as much. The use of fractals to explain levels of complexity of chickens behaviour seemed interesting but wasn’t that well focused on, and the speaker also presented the fact that lots of chickens together moved as a wave as if it were meant to be mind -boggling. Everything moves as a wave. Breaking in cars on the motorway, a slinky falling, if you remember my previous blog. People waving. You take my point.
The next lecture I attended was Lord Dick Taverne talking about the politics of science. He was such an adorable man that I am actually slightly in love and might even buy his autobiography. He is a former barrister and MP who is now a member of the House of Lords and founded Sense about Science and has so so much experience and enthusiasm with science in policy and the media. He also raised some interesting points about reasons for life peerages to the House of Lords being given to experts, because if they were reformed and made electable, those scientific experts simply wouldn’t get in.
I also attended ‘A perfect picture’ about photography, which was interesting, but a bit too practical for me as I like maths and not actually having to take pictures.
Finally, in the evening I went to Science Showoff which was eight different scientists doing stand up about their work. Some of them were brilliantly original and funny, (again I will find links later) and the host was great, so it was a great way to finish off my first day 🙂 (He apparently also volunteers for Science London, which is something I am also trying to get involved in.)
I have taken loads of pictures but my phone doesn’t seem to want to upload them, so I will put them all together in potentially a very picture heavy final blog!
Goodnight everyone! I’ve got to be up in six hours…. the things one does for science. 😛

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