Friday, 28 October 2016

Christmas Lectures: Day 12

So, last time I mentioned a new section of the Ri website I had been helping to work on which had a bunch of old archive video footage of science done back in the early 1900's by the Bragg’s. This is all now live and can be found here:
So, who were the Bragg’s? William and Lawrence Bragg were a father son duo who led the field of x-ray crystallography (Looking at the molecular structure of things). They’re also the only father son duo to have jointly received the nobel prize with both of them actually being alive. (Also I’ve actually touched one of their nobel prize book things). So if you do anything with molecular structures or crystallography, this is worth a look.
Pretty soap bubbles are a thing

So, what have I been doing? I’ve now finished 2 press releases, one for a bursary competition to win tickets to the Lectures, and one to advertise the event we have going on in Edinburgh. Hopefully something based on them will appear on websites and in newspapers which is kind of exciting. (To be fair, they have since been edited so it’s not all me, and most of the actual basic writing I took from elsewhere so it’s not exactly my work anyway). I’ve also been emailing loads of people and places asking them to spread the word about our Edinburgh event, and it is kind of awesome to see them all up on the websites.
I also got to go help out in the prep room for an afternoon (the prep room is where we test out all the experiments and things for the Lectures and other cool video’s made by the Ri). Once December starts, the Ri channel will release its Advent calendar, and you’ll be able to see what we were doing. (Your only hint is that it involved liquid nitrogen and lots of mess).
Liquid nitrogen is cool

Also Wednesday afternoon, I got to go help out in the Young Scientists Centre. It’s essentially a science lab down in the basement next to the museum where school kids can come do some science. We had a group over from Ireland who were all around 15-16, and on their strange and kind of awesome year of doing practical’s and school trips rather than lessons and exams. They had to solve a ‘crime scene’ by matching up a set of DNA. They had 6 samples – the crime scene sample and 5 ‘suspects’. By processing and running the DNA using electrophoresis, they could see a match between the killer and the crime scene sample. It was nice to see kids of that age being able to try something that I have done, sometimes on a daily basis, during my PhD, and that I didn’t get to try until my third year of my undergraduate.
This is what DNA looks like after electrophoresis. Sort of...

I’m also watching through some old lectures from 1991 (the year I was born!). I’m going through checking for copyright content so we can release the old lectures on youtube so everyone can enjoy them. The ones from 1991 are really interesting, presented by Richard Dawkins on evolution. Plus I’m sorting out some fact sheets on the lectures, and press releases for the Lectures themselves.
Finally, here at the Ri they have evening events on, talks and lectures and things on various topics. Staff get to steward the events (Be the guy on the door who checks your tickets etc) and then watch the session, which is pretty awesome, and you get paid to do it. This week I managed to get 2 shifts, one for a talk with Mike Massimo, an astronaut who has been into space a bunch of times and now has a book out about it. The other was on the science of stress, where they had a panel of neuroscience experts on stress giving everyone an introduction to the subject. They were both good evenings, but meant I was pretty knackered the next day a I didn’t get home till gone 10. Totally worth it though.
So I think that’s pretty much it. It’s all going well at week 2, and I’m still enjoying it. I’m also getting more used to the travelling and times so hopefully I’ll be less tired as time goes on.
I’ll update again next week. Have fun!

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