On Tuesday 4th December a group of 80 pupils went to the Arts Centre at The University of Warwick to listen to five highly inspiring speakers talk about their passion for various aspects of science.
Lecture 1: Greg Foot – ‘The Ocean lab’ written by Saffi, Ruby and Niyanna
Greg Foot is an aquanaut who explores the deep ocean. The dive that he talked to us about was off the coast of Bermuda, 245 metres deep and they wanted to do it for two reasons. The first reason was that the first ever aquanauts dived off Bermuda, 90 years ago. Their goal was to dive 245 metres. The second reason was that off the coast of Bermuda there is an underwater volcano also known as a sea-mount. The sea-mount is 33 million years old and is an area of great biodiversity.
Greg went on to show us a video of him exploring the deep sea, he was joined with the best scuba divers in the world. He explained to us that the deeper you travel under the sea, the darker it gets. This is because the water scatters the light, and the deeper you get, the more light is scattered. He combined all physics, chemistry and biology knowledge together to give us a better understanding of his career.
For example, he introduced a formula “E=hf=hc/” (physics) by letting us know how the light wave travels under the ocean; Acetylene reacts with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide and water (chemistry); the carbon dioxide is then used during photosynthesis carried out by the phytoplankton (biology).
Phytoplankton is found in the ‘sunlight zone’ from 0-200 metres deep. The area from 200-1000 metres is classed as the ‘twilight zone’. This area relies on ‘marine snow’. 1-4 kilometres is called the ‘midnight zone’ and if the depth of the ocean is 4-6 kilometres is called the ‘abyssal zone’.
As well as the physics involved in the dive, the number of species they saw in those depths were amazing. For example, scientists didn't know that moray eels could be found at these depths. One of Greg's friends did the deepest deep-sea dive in history, where he reached a depth of between 1000ft-2000ft and discovered a new species - the Hoff crab, named after David Hasselhoff due to its hairy tummy! The hairs trap bacteria coming up from the vent chimneys of the volcanoes which it then feeds off.
He concluded by telling us that the ocean is hot and sour (due to the increased carbon dioxide acidifying the ocean) and that there are three things we can do to fix it:
1. Use less energy – turn off the lights when we don’t necessarily need them or turn the air conditioning off for an hour each day
2. Use more public transport or share car rides with people nearby
3. Eat less meat – meat has a huge environmental footprint.
If everyone could pay a little time and effort, it would make a huge difference to the earth -the place where we have lived in for over 1 million of years.
Lecture 2: Suze Kundu – ‘Super Science!’ written by Emilio
I thoroughly enjoyed the science trip to Warwick University. I thought It was a great way to find out about university lifestyle while listening to some persuasive and compelling lectures. Overall, I believe that the lecture on ‘the science of superheroes’ given by Suze Kundu was especially interesting; it gave me a real sense of us living in a time of such advanced technology which can make what seemed science fiction: science reality. I loved the lecturer’s fun spirit and her down to earth attitude while explaining some complicated structures and their properties to us. For example, how to it is possible for scientists to make invisible cloaks? Maybe someday I might also try out Nanochemistry and make the transition from the gadget guy to a real superhero!
Lecture 3: Becky Smethurst – ‘Galaxy Zoo: From lab to your living room’ written by Clemens
The lecture on astrophysics was my favourite. It was about how the general public can help in the discovery of new objects in the universe. A physicist who had millions of pictures of galaxies which had to be classified into shapes and other categories had the idea to upload them to a website allowing the public to classify them. The website “Zooniverse” was created where everyone can log on and start classifying shapes, rotation, colour, and many other things. One unusual thing that was spotted was that different people perceive the rotation of galaxies differently and they think that this may be related to either being right or left handed; so, two people could look at an image of the same galaxy and one would say that the rotation was clockwise and the other may say that it is anti-clockwise!
The lecturer talked about this topic with huge enthusiasm and really wanted to get us involved in also trying this out which I enjoyed very much.
Lecture 4: Tom Warrender – ‘Medical Mavericks’ written by Heather and Eileen
We really enjoyed this lecture because Tom was highly entertaining as he involved a lot of audience interaction. In the lecture, Tom spoke to us about different technology that has improved and how we can use it to find problems in the human body. For example, he used an infra-red vein scanner to see the veins under the skin. This is technology that can help us see problems before we act or operate. It was also amazing to see a zoomed in picture of the inside of someone from the audience’s eye!
He then used a machine which is used to test how efficient your lungs are, he tested a volunteer from the audience who had a good lung capacity, Tom then did the test himself but didn’t pass it, which created a good “transition” to the next topic, as he specifically went to the doctor and let them check his lungs. He showed us a video, where the doctors inserted a small camera into his nose down to his lungs. Although it seemed disgusting to start with it was also very interesting to see how we look from the “inside”. Moreover, he let more and more people from the audience take part of his lecture and test different things themselves, like the one which you could hear the heartbeat by putting an ultrasound probe on your arm and the camera inserted down the ear so that we could see the smallest bone in our bodies, the stapes!
This lecture taught us that just one person can make a huge difference to how we can find a new medication for patients. Tom Warrender has had a massive impact on teaching children that medical research might be serious but that it can also be fun. He also introduced us to many different career paths in the medical sciences.
Lecture 5: Marty Jopson - ‘ZAP! The story of electricity’ written by Ned and Rococo
Our favourite lecture was called ‘ZAP! The story of electricity’ by Marty Jopson.
He made his whole lecture incredibly interesting with both scientific history and exciting demonstrations. For example, he went through back through the inventions and gadgets that he used and also how electrical soirees came to be popular. The aristocrats in society would pay physics researchers to carry out experiments as entertainment, during some of these poor children would be suspended from the ceiling and have electrical experiments done on them! He showed us that though these initial experiments may have been unethical they have led to significant advances in science. We all enjoyed listening to Marty using a Tesla coil (invented by Nikola Tesla) to create the correct frequency of sparks to produce music like the themes from Pirates of the Caribbean and Star Wars! He also showed us the difference between volts and amps which most people have trouble in understanding, so it was very useful as well as an entertaining lecture.