Sunday, 26 June 2011

Writing Science Into Fiction

Now here's an event after my own heart, at the Royal Society in London on July 20th:

Imagination and interpretation: Writing science into fiction

Starts: 6pm on 20 July 2011
Finishes: 7.30pm on 20 July 2011
Venue: The Royal Society, London

Speakers: Pat Barker CBE, Philip Sington
Chair: Prof. Sally Shuttleworth

Join Pat Barker CBE and Philip Sington in a discussion about representing scientists and science in contemporary fiction. Both authors have imaginatively used the archives of early 20th century scientists as the basis for major works of fiction. They will reveal what attracted them to these historical sources in particular, and discuss the pleasures and pitfalls of interpreting modern science in fictional worlds.

The event is free and all are welcome to attend. No ticket or advance booking is required - doors will open at 5.30pm and seats will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Angel: MSc in Nanoscience & Functional Nanomaterials

The University of Bristol is one of the best options to study science in UK, mainly because we are always in the education edge. Proof of this is the successful software developed by Leaning Science in partnership with the School of Chemistry: LabSkills. Currently, The Bristol Centre for Functional Nanomaterials (BCFN) brings a new and interesting academic alternative for every young student excited to get involved in Nanoscience world via a multidisciplinary approach:

The Bristol Centre for Functional Nanomaterials bridges academic disciplines in the faculties of Science, Engineering and Medical & Veterinary Science.  We are based in the Centre for Nanoscience and Quantum Information - the lowest vibration Nanoscience building in the world. 
The MSc in Nanoscience & Functional Nanomaterials includes the following units:

*    Lectures on Functional Nanomaterials
*    Training in Advanced Tools for Nanoscience including interactive
online modules
*    Communication and Management Skills
*    Two 3-month Training Projects and one 6-month Research Project

For further details follow this link...

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Milly: Would you eat this to save the planet?

There have been many disputes amongst politicians, scientists and the public regarding the validity of 'climate change' and how far we should go to try and reduce our impact on the environment. Many people agree that there is much we can do both in the short and long term however, on the quest for complete sustainability, has this scientist gone too far? Check out this link but be warned, it's not for the easily nauseated.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Angel: Coffe fact

"...the world population requires about 140 billion cubic metres of water per year in order to be able to drink coffee and tea."

Sunday, 5 June 2011

James: Friday afternoon Science

One of the things I really enjoy about my research group, here at Bristol, is what we in the lab refer to as 'Friday afternoon Science'. These are wacky ideas, still science based, that may or may not be useful for the work we are doing but which are outside the box ideas and most importantly fun or cool to do.
I can think of many things that have happened in my lab that probably would make any safety officer cringe. Such as trying to flare the end of a glass tube by putting it in place of a drill bit and then using a blow torch to heat the end. The science is sound, when partially molten the glass, driven by centrifugal force, will expand while staying cylindrical. However, the outcome was molten glass flung at hit speed across the lab. Another 'friday experiment' I am wanting to try is super heated and super cooled water. This is where you take water to above 100 degrees, or below 0. The key is to do it in a very clean glass so it does not boil, or freeze. Then when touch it will instantly boil/freeze all at once.

Note that this is very dangerous and as such I suggest extreme caution and safety equipment if anything here is to be repeated. I could use the old phrase 'do not try this at home' but it has come to be semantic satiation.
You may also think of these as the sort of thing that may have been thought of after a couple of drinks. One particular experiment comes to mind that was done here at Bristol.
Professor Sir Michale Berry was once awarded the Ig Nobel Prize, an honour for achievements that make people first laugh and then think, for levitating a frog. Defiantly something I believe was thought up after a couple of drinks, yet with a little thought you can see where it came from. You can use a giant magnetic field to levitate a diamagnetic material, if you wish to know the true details as to why I suggest you head to this Wikipedia link. But for the sake of this post I shall just say a diamagnetic material pushed back when it has an external magnetic field applied to it. Examples of diamagnetic materials are copper and lead, but also carbon and water the two main thing that will make up a frog. So why can't you levitate a frog, answer there is no reason you just need a magnetic field big enough.

This is a picture of the still living floating frog, from Michael Berry's original paper.