Monday, 9 July 2012

Royal Society Summer Exhibition 2012

NSB, had been waiting excitedly for the Royal Society’s Summer Science Exhibition for several months, and went along (with No1 and No3 Son) to find out if the event matched the billing.

It certainly did. The Exhibition was, frankly, AWESOME.

The NSB crewdid not stop being amazed, entertained and educated for the entire time that we were there. As with most things that are successful, it was the people that made the event what it was - the stands were manned by such enthusiastic and engaging researchers that one could not help but be interested by the work they were doing.

The grandeur of the Royal Society Building, situated close to Buckingham Palace and Westminster, also added to the atmosphere of the event as did the various historical documents, portraits and equipment that were dotted about the building.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, IKEA have never been invited tender for decoration of the Royal Society's Entrance Hall

In addition, some of the rooms had had walls full of interesting books - for some reason “The Day the Universe Changed” by James Burke particularly caught NSB’s eye, perhaps not a surprise given that NSB is an 80’s kid.

Crowds, books, science and world class coving - what's not to like?

There were 21 exhibits in all, which are outlined here. They ranged from work done by La Sainte Union Catholic School on the relationship between air quality and lichen distribution to the multi-national, multi-telescope, multi-billion pound ALMA radio astronomy project.

Even the wall paintings were a thing to behold. . .

It was great to see that all the exhibitors had stuff you could take away with you to find out more about the subject, and the level of interactivity was really high - there were lots of interesting and unusual activities that the public could participate in.

The presentation by La Sainte Union School

And, although it was certainly busy, there was never any kind of long queue for a particular exhibit or activity.

There was so much good stuff, in fact, that it's a bit too much to fit one post, so the following have been split off into separate posts:

The University of Edinburgh's Edinferno robotic football team.

Research on the genetic makeup of the UK

Epigenentics - or how the environment can affect how DNA works

Doggerland - Europe's lost world

Biological nanomotors

Football playing robots (please insert England related joke of your choice here)

The "Breathless Genes" exhibition included a bookshelf of books..

You'll never guess what all these books represent...

Each of which contained hundred of pages of close typed text...

They are all full of text

Which, close up, could be seen to be the genetic code. Apparently, that whole set of books represents the DNA information contained in each of the cells in our body. Crikey

Ah- the genetic code, so that's what they are all about.

Meanwhile, at the "Laughing Brains" area, Professor Sophie Scott was explaining how laughter was the only sound that was recognised across all human societies and that it was a very deep, primitive emotion that is shared with many other creatures - which makes it all the more strange that we feel comfortable allowing our everyday conversations to be interrupted by laughter.

One of the posters showed how the use of visual communication techniques such as Skype or (very old skool, this) talking to each other result in increased happpiness.

Scientists and error bars - it's just a fact of life.

Winningly, the exhibit even had a stand-up comedian performing in a corner, to ensure that all the visitors experienced the emotion that the exhibit was all about.

Stand Up ??? At a science exhibition ?? Surely some mistake?

As well as the exhibits, there were a series of talks scheduled. No1 son went to one of these and commented that it had been really interesting (trust me, for No1 Son that is a pretty emphatic endorsement). Apparantly, the talk had been by someone who was a serial inventor of products and a successful participant on Dragons Den.

A sensor from an ALMA radio telescope - gives great SKY+ reception too, apparently

But perhaps the best guide to just how good an event it was came as we left the building and NSB asked No3 son to give the exhibition marks out of 10.

"It was so good that you can't mark it out of 10", he replied.

Related Content : Talk by Prof Poliakoff on the Royal Society

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